Kenyans Kipruto, Kipyogei sweep in Boston Marathon return
BOSTON -- Kenya's Benson Kipruto won the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon on Monday when the race returned from a 30-month absence with a smaller, socially distanced feel and moved from the spring for the first time in its 125-year history.
Although organizers put runners through COVID-19 protocols and asked spectators to keep their distance, large crowds lined the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston as an early drizzle cleared and temperatures rose to the low 60s for a beautiful fall day.
They watched Kipruto run away from the lead pack as it turned onto Beacon Street with about three miles to go and break the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds. Diana Kipyogei won the women's race to complete the eighth Kenyan sweep since 2000.
A winner in Prague and Athens who finished 10th in Boston in 2019, Kipruto waited out an early breakaway by American CJ Albertson, who led by as many as two minutes at the halfway point. Kipruto took the lead at Cleveland Circle and finished 46 seconds ahead of 2016 winner Lemi Berhanu; Albertson, who turned 28 on Monday, was 10th, 1:53 back.
Kipyogei ran ahead for much of the race and finished in 2:24:45, 23 seconds ahead of 2017 winner Edna Kiplagat.
Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men's wheelchair race earlier despite making a wrong term in the final mile, finishing the slightly detoured route just seven seconds off his course record in 1:08:11.
Manuela Schär, also from Switzerland, won the women's wheelchair race in 1:35:21.
Hug, who has raced Boston eight times and has five victories here, cost himself a $50,000 course record bonus when he missed the second-to-last turn, following the lead vehicle instead of turning from Commonwealth Avenue onto Hereford Street.
"The car went straight and I followed the car," said Hug, who finished second in the Chicago Marathon by 1 second on Sunday. "But it's my fault. I should go right, but I followed the car."
With fall foliage replacing the spring daffodils, a rolling start and shrunken field allowed for social distancing on the course, as organizers tried to manage amid a changing COVID-19 pandemic that forced them to cancel the race last year for the first time since the event began in 1897.
"It's a great feeling to be out on the road," race director Dave McGillivray said.
A light rain greeted participants at the Hopkinton Green, where about 30 uniformed members of the Massachusetts National Guard left at 6 a.m. The men's and women's wheelchair racers -- some of whom completed the 26.2-mile distance in Chicago a day earlier -- left shortly after 7 a.m., followed by the men's and women's professional fields.
It's the first time the event hasn't been held in April as part of the Patriots' Day holiday that commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War. To recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, race organizers honored 1936 and '39 winner Ellison "Tarzan" Brown and three-time runner-up Patti Catalano Dillon, a member of the Mi'kmaq tribe.
"I love that we're back to races across the country and the world," said Doug Flannery, a 56-year-old Illinois resident who was waiting to start his sixth Boston Marathon. "It gives people hope that things are starting to come back."