DOUG FEINBERG Associated Press
NEW YORK – Tamirat Tola wasn’t thinking about breaking the New York City Marathon course record when he ran alone in Central Park for the last few miles of the race. He was just focused on trying to win.
The Ethiopian runner broke the 12-year-old mark, completing the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds on Sunday – eight seconds faster than Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.
“It’s great for the people of New York to give me moral support every kilometer,” said Tola. “I’m happy for them. Thank you everyone. It’s a long kilometer to do alone. … I’m not thinking a lot. I’m thinking to win. So this is nice. “
Tola, who finished fourth in the race in 2018 and 2019, pulled out compatriot Jemal Yimer as the pair headed toward the Bronx at mile 20. By the time Tola made it back to Manhattan a mile later he was up to 19 seconds and left. except in pursuit of the Mutai mark. The 32-year-old was a late addition to the field, coming on three weeks ago.
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Albert Korir of Kenya, who won the 2021 NYC Marathon, finished second almost two minutes behind Tola.
While there was little drama in the men’s race after Tola’s retirement, the women’s race came down to the final stretch. Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters to take the women’s title.
33-year-old Obiri ran New York for the first time last year and finished sixth.
“My first start here was terrible for me, and I say that because I don’t want to come back here next year,” said Obiri. “After that, I said, wow, I’m here again. So, you know sometimes you learn from your mistakes, so I made a lot of mistakes last year, so said I want to try my best.”
Obiri, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey and defending champion Sharon Lokedi were running together exchanging the lead. Obiri made a move as the trio headed back to Central Park for the final half mile pulling away. She finished in 2:27:23. Gidey finished second, six seconds behind.
Lokedi was 10 seconds behind Obiri, who won the Boston Marathon in April. She is the first woman to win both marathons in the same year since Norwegian Ingrid Kristiansen did it in 1989.
This was a great field of women who hoped that he could put down the course record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Unlike last year when the weather was unseasonably hot with temperatures in the 70s, Sunday’s race was much cooler to be in the 50s — perfect conditions for record-breaking times and for the 50,000 runners.
Instead, the women had a tactical race with 11 runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle in the lead pack for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the pack at points before falling back and finishing eighth and ninth.
“The first 20 miles, I was like what the heck is going on,” Taylor said. “It was really weird, one of the weirdest races I’ve ever run with the best talent in the field. There was talk of breaking the course record and doing all that stuff, after a bit it was like no that’s going to happen. Six minute pace is running for no good reason. Sometimes that’s how races play out. You can jump on board and do that or do your own thing. Today decides I jump on board and try to stay.”
When the main group came back to Manhattan for the last few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi pushed the pace.
As the trio entered Central Park they moved further away from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, who finished in fourth place.
The men’s and women’s winners finished within minutes of each other. About an hour earlier, Marcel Hug won the men’s wheelchair race, finishing a few seconds short of his own course record finishing in 1:25:29. It was the Swiss star’s record-extending sixth NYC Marathon win.
“It’s unbelievable. I think it takes some time to realize what happened,” said Hug. “I’m so happy as well.”
He is the most decorated wheelchair race champion at the event, breaking a tie with Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley for the most wins in the division in the event’s history.
Switzerland’s Catherine Debrunner won her first race in New York, breaking the course record in the women’s wheelchair race. She finished in 1:39:32, beating the previous mark by more than 3 minutes, held by American Susannah Scaroni.
“It’s hard to describe in words. I told my coach if I win this race, it will be the best performance I’ve ever shown,” she said. “I knew it would be the hardest marathon of all. It was my first time. I knew it would be so tough.”
Both Debrunner and Tola earned a $50,000 bonus for topping previous course records.
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Daniel Romanchuk and Aaron Pike qualified for the 2024 Paris Games by finishing as the top Americans in the men’s wheelchair race. Scaroni and McFadden qualified for the Olympic Games on the women’s side.
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