Mary Keitany of Kenya won her third consecutive New York City Marathon on Sunday, finishing in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 26 seconds, and leaving her closest competitors in the dust.
Keitany pulled away from the elite women’s pack less than halfway into the race and ran most of the race alone, her No. 1 spot uncontested over more than a dozen miles.
The men’s race was more conventional, with a pack of elite runners sticking together for more than half of the 26.2 mile course before 20-year-old Eritrean runner Ghirmay Ghebreslassie pulled away. He crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 51 seconds, becoming the youngest man ever to win.
Lucas Rotich of Kenya finished second in the men’s field. Abdi Abdirahman, an American, finished third.
Ghebreslassie finished fourth at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over the summer. But Keitany was cut from Kenya’s Olympic team — despite being the second fastest female marathoner ever. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, only Paula Radcliffe has ever run a faster time than Keitany’s 2012 London marathon time of 2 hours 18 minutes 37 seconds.
Sunday was Keitany’s triumphant return, showing that she could not only win, but do so without the luxury of fellow elite runners to pace her throughout the race. Sally Kipyego of Kenya took second place in the women’s race with a time more than three minutes slower than Keitany’s. Molly Huddle of the United States was third.
In the women’s wheelchair race, the American Tatyana McFadden won her fourth New York City Marathon title in a row, and her fifth overall, according to the official race press release.
McFadden has dominated wheelchair racing since 2004, when she won her first Paralympic Games medal as a 15-year-old. In 2012, she described how she won the right to compete as a young athlete at Atholton High in Howard County, Md.
NPR’s Joseph Shapiro reported:
“[McFadden] wanted to be part of the high school track team. But on the eve of the first track meet, the coach refused to give her a uniform. She wouldn’t be allowed to compete.
“After her mother complained, Tatyana was allowed to race, but not side-by-side with her teammates. At her first meet, her teammates and other competitors in the 400-meter race ran first. Then the track meet stopped and Tatyana was allowed to race — going around the track in her wheelchair, racing against no one. ‘That was the most humiliating, embarrassing thing I’ve ever done, ever,’ she says.
“She didn’t want to be the girl in the wheelchair; even then, she wanted to be seen as a top athlete. ‘People look at you and in their minds [they] see, ‘Oh, the girl with a disability in a wheelchair is running for a high school team. Congratulations.’ And for me as an elite athlete, it’s not what you want as an elite athlete.'”
On the men’s side, Marcel Hug of Switzerland narrowly won the wheelchair event, edging out Kurt Fearnley by six hundredths of a second, according to race regulators.