Kenyan athlete Hellen Obiri defends Boston Marathon title

Tuesday April 16 2024
Hellen Obiri

Kenya's Hellen Obiri crosses the finish line to win the women's elite race of 128th edition of Boston Marathon, US on April 15, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


Kenyan athlete Hellen Obiri has retained her Boston Marathon title.

Obiri shook off a three-way thrilling battle with the 2017 and 2021 champion Edna Kiplagat and 2022 New York City Marathon champion Sharon Lokedi in the last seven kilometres to seal a double.

Obiri, 34, clocked two hours, 22 minutes and 37 seconds, beating Lokedi to second place in 2:22:45 as Kiplagat came third in 2:23:21.

However, Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma ended Kenya’s five-year reign in the men’s race in Boston with a gun-to-tape performance on Monday in the American city.

Lemma, who was making his debut in the marathon looked all set to break the long-standing course record but wilted in the second half of the race to win in 2:06:17.

Read: Kenya’s Chebet, Obiri rule Boston Marathon


Lokedi took the pack of 20 athletes through 5km in 16:36 before Obiri led through 10km in 33:27, 15km in 50:58 and 20km in 1:08:42.

The 2021 Chicago Marathon silver medallist Emma Bates of the USA guided the pack through half way in 1:12:33 with no one making the first move.

The pack of over 15 athletes still clustered together through the 25km mark in 1:26:05.

Then Bates took the challenge to go ahead of the pack cruising past the 30km mark in 1:43:27, three seconds ahead of Kenyans; Obiri, Vibian Chepkirui and Mary Ngugi. 

However, things started to unfold with seven kilometres to go when Kiplagat stepped on her gas pedal as the pack started to disintegrate.

It was now a thrilling three-horse sprint between Obiri, Lokedi and Kiplagat, the 2011 and 203 world champion in the last phase of the race.

Kiplagat then couldn't keep up with the pace as Obiri and Lokedi sized up each other, hitting the 40km mark in 2:15:54.

It didn’t take long before Obiri asserted her supremacy to show Lokedi a clean pair of heels to retain the title and make her intentions clear ahead of the Paris Olympic Games.

Two-time defending champion, Evans Chebet from Kenya and compatriot John Korir gave a late chase in the second half but that would cost them as another Ethiopian Mohamed Esa edged them out in the last two kilometres.

Read: Kipchoge wants to 'make history' with a third Olympic gold

Esa, who finished second in Tokyo Marathon last year, dug in to finish second in 2:06:58 as Chebet, who was chasing a hat-trick after back-to-back wins in 2022 and 2023, settled third in 2:07:22.

John came in fourth in 2:07:40 with compatriot Albert Korir clocking 2:07:47 for fifth.

Lemma, the fourth fastest man in history, threw down the gauntlet from the word go to build his lead to one minute and 21 seconds when hitting the 15km mark in 42:43.

Lemma, who ran the fourth fastest time when he won in Valencia in December in 2:01:48, breaking the late Kelvin Kiptum’s course record, stormed through halfway in 1:00:19 to stretch his lead to one minute and 49 seconds.

Behind were Chebet and compatriots Albert Korir, Cyprian Kotut, John Korir and Ethiopian Haftu Teklu, who crossed the halfway mark in 1:02:08.

Lemma hit 25km in 1:11:44 as Chebet and Kotut gave chase to cross in 1:14:05, two minutes and 21 seconds off the pace though.

Lemma, who was competing in Chicago for the first time, stretched his lead to two minutes and 49 seconds after 30km in 1:26:56 and certainly with a maiden victory in sight.

Chebet, Kotut, John and Albert gave chase to clear 30km in 1:29:45 but Lemma was in firm control hitting the 35km mark in 1:42:56 although his lead reduced to two minutes and 14 seconds.

Chebet, John and Albert stepped on their gas pedal to cross 35km in 1:45:10 but Lemma started to wilt with the course record of 2:03:02 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011, that was in sight fading away.

Lemma went into the last two kilometres with a one minute and 22 seconds lead from Chebet and John Korir, hitting the 40km mark in 1:58:51 against 2:00:13.

As Lemma sensed victory in sight, Chebet would shake off John Korir in the last two kilometres but not for long as Esa edged both of them out for silver.