RUNNERSCheruiyot continues Kenya's domination of Boston Marathon
Russia's Zakharova is women's champion
By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press, 4/21/03
BOSTON - Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot needed a photo finish to win his marathon debut. In his second race, he made sure that wasn't necessary.
Cheruiyot won the Boston Marathon by 23 seconds on Monday to give Kenya its 12th victory in 13 years. Russia's Svetlana Zakharova won the women's race to prevent a second consecutive Kenyan sweep.
Cheruiyot (pronounced cheh-REE'-yot) finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 11 seconds to earn $80,000, an olive wreath and a bowl of beef stew. It was just his second career marathon, having won his debut in Milan in December.
In Milan he finished with the same time as two others but was declared the winner by an edge. This time, he wasn't challenged over the final five miles to win by more than two city blocks.
"I was ready to face anything," said Cheruiyot, who felt like he had a chance to win at about 15.5 miles. "I said, 'OK, I'll win this."'
Cheruiyot is the eighth Kenyan to win Boston since his country began its domination in 1991. Kenyans swept the first five spots in the race, with Benjamin Kimutai second and Martin Lel third.
Russian Fedor Ryzhov was the first non-Kenyan, in sixth, and defending champion Rodgers Rop was seventh. Eddy Hellebuyck was the first American, finishing in 2:17:18 for 10th place.
"It's disappointing," Hellebuyck said. "I'm representing the U.S. and I'm 42 years old. Where is everybody?"
Zakharova finished in 2:25:20 to beat fellow Russian Lyubov Denisova by 91 seconds. Her biggest challenge was staying on the course when the television truck turned away before the Back Bay finish line; she is the first Russian to win since 1993.
American Marla Runyan was fifth -- the best finish for a U.S. runner since 1993. Runyan, who is legally blind, trailed a bicyclist who provided her with her times at the checkpoints and guided her to her water bottles.
She traded positions with defending champion Margaret Okayo of Kenya and the two Russians until Zakharova pulled ahead at the 13.1-mile mark. Kenyan Joyce Chepchumba was third and Okayo, who set the women's course record of 2:20:43 last year, finished fourth.
Rop was in a pack of a dozen that trailed leader Vincent Kipsos through much of the early race before Kipsos dropped out by Mile 14. Nine Kenyans ran together at the 15-mile mark before some began falling away from the pack.
South African Ernst Van Dyk earned his third consecutive victory in the men's wheelchair race, finishing in 1:28:32 without a competitor in sight. Christina Ripp of Savoy, Ill., who finished second last year, won the women's wheelchair race in 1:54:57.
A field of 20,260 left the starting line at noon after the traditional serenade of "Young at Heart" by 95-year-old Johnny "The Elder" Kelley, who started a record 61 races, winning twice. An F-15 flyover followed the national anthem to give the Patriots Day race a patriotic flavor.
Temperatures climbed to 70 and a slight breeze blew at the start, as runners filled Hopkinton Common, some stretching, others listening to music on earphones. Vendors offered everything from lemonade and fried dough to mutual funds.
It was 58 degrees in the Back Bay at the finish.
The race marked the 20th anniversary of "Joannie's record run," the 1983 race in which Joan Benoit shattered the world record and Greg Meyer took the men's race for an American sweep.
No U.S. man has won since then and a sweep hasn't even been hinted at since 1985, when Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach won the women's division and Gary Tuttle finished second in the men's.