Changed race, familiar result: Kenyans sweep Boston Marathon

The pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon returned Monday to its original course after a 30-month absence. Mylar blankets and fall foliage replaced the blooming daffodils, while masks were used as a space for the race's smaller, more socially distant counterpart.

Changed race, familiar result: Kenyans sweep Boston Marathon

Diana Kipyogei and Benson Kipruto completed a Kenyan sweep. This was the eighth consecutive sweep at the 26.2-miler's most prestigious and oldest race. The event, which is now in its 125th year, moved from its spring date due to the coronavirus epidemic.

"We were hurt, wounded. "Now is the comeback story," Meb Keflezighi (2014) winner, who shared grand marshal duties alongside hospital workers who had been affected by the pandemic. "Hopefully, this is an example of how life is returning to normal after the pandemic."

Despite organizers putting runners through COVID-19 protocols, and asking spectators to keep their distance from them, there was still a large crowd in Hopkinton to Boston. The rain cleared early and the temperatures rose to the 60s.

Before picking up their bib numbers, participants in the field of 18,000 had to prove that they were not infected with the coronavirus. Masks were required indoors in Boston as well as on the buses to the start. They were also handed out with finishers' medals on Boylston Street.

The race started earlier, with a rolling send off to avoid crowding at the corrals and along the course.

The Kenyans were not affected by any of these changes.

Kipruto stated, "There isn't much different on the course."

Winner in Prague and Athens, Kipruto finished 10th in Boston in 2019. He broke from the pack just three miles away as it turned onto Beacon Street. The tape was broken in 2 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds. Lemi Berhanu was second in the race, 46 seconds behind the winner in 2016. Colin Bennie, Princeton, Massachusetts was seventh.

Kipyogei won the women's title and a $150,000 first prize. She finished in 2:24.45 in her major marathon debut. Edna Kipligat was 23 seconds behind the 2017 winner.

Marcel Hug won the men’s wheelchair race, despite taking a wrong turn on the last mile. He finished the slightly detoured route in 7:08:11, seven seconds behind his course record. Manuela Schar, also a Swiss woman, won the women’s wheelchair race in 1;35:21.

Hug, who raced Boston eight times, and has five wins here, was awarded a $50,000 course record bonus after he failed to turn into the second turn. He followed the lead vehicle, instead of turning onto Hereford Street from Commonwealth Avenue.

Hug, who was second in Sunday's Chicago Marathon by 1 second, said that "at the moment I am really upset." "I hope that in an hour or two hours I will feel happier."

CJ Albertson broke away early, leading by two minutes at half-way. However, Kipruto held on to his lead and lost nearly two minutes. Albertson, the world record-holder for the 50K (42.2 mile), was 10th.

Albertson, a Fresno native, said that he tried to keep the pandemic interesting by taking Peloton classes. He finished at the top of the leaderboard 57 times, and also set a new record by running a 2 minutes nine minute marathon on the treadmill.

"I was bored and unmotivated trying to find something to keep me busy. He said that he had made up the whole thing. "Having a race such as Boston... actually racing with the world's top in one of the most enjoyable atmospheres to run in -- second only to Fresno -- is unbeatable. It was an incredible day.

Running enthusiasts rushed to the Back Bay finish line in the afternoon. They turned to the streets and pumped their arms to encourage the smaller crowds to cheer.

Boylston Street was filled with spectators, many of whom were standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Few were wearing masks as Boston requires them indoors. Some people said that they didn't worry about COVID-19 because they had been vaccinated outside.

The course was characterized by a rolling start and a shrunken field, which allowed for social distancing. This was in response to a changing pandemic that caused organizers to cancel the race last season. It had been cancelled after a group from Boston returned from the 1896 Athens Olympics. They decided to organize a marathon.

The race has survived through World Wars, and even the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It was delayed, cancelled last year and then moved to the spring of 2021.

This is the first time that the event has not been held in April, as part of Patriots' Day which commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Race organizers paid tribute to Ellison "Tarzan", the 1936 and 39 winner, and Patti Catalano Dillon (three-time runner up), both members of the Mi'kmaq tribe.

As authorities vow to be vigilant eight years after the bombings on Boylston Street, near the Back Bay finish line that left three people dead and hundreds more injured, police were visible along the course.

Participants at Hopkinton Green were greeted by light rain. Around 30 uniformed soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard were among the first to depart at 6 a.m. Soon after 8 a.m., the wheelchair racers (some of whom had completed the 26.2-mile (42.2km) distance in Chicago the previous day) left the Hopkinton Green. They were followed by professionals from the men's & women's fields.

"We assumed everything was a given before COVID-19. National Guard Capt. Greg Davis, 39, was walking for the fourth consecutive time with the military group. "This is an historic race, but this is a historic day."

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