BOSTON (AP) — Hellen Obiri took one key lesson away when she ran her first major marathon in New York this past November: Be patient.
She put it to use late in Monday’s Boston Marathon, breaking away over the final 2 miles to win the title during a foggy and wet 127th edition of the race.
Obiri, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 5,000 meters, claimed the women’s top spot on the podium, maneuvering down the 26.2 mile course in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 38 seconds. Amane Beriso of Ethiopia was second, 12 seconds back, followed another seven seconds behind by Israeli Lonah Salpeter. Obiri’s victory also completed a Kenyan sweep on the day, with Evans Chebet winning his second straight title in the men’s race.
Obiri said she felt a lot more comfortable in her approach after finishing sixth in the New York Marathon last year.
“I thought I could do my fastest in New York, but it never worked as planned,” she said. “So what I learned from New York was to be patient and for the right time to go.”
Obiri also credited her training, which she did in Boulder, Colorado, after moving to the U.S. just three weeks ago. She took advantage of the hilly terrain, which replicated the back half of Boston’s course where runners have benefitted from tactical strategy over shear athleticism.
“It always feels like a fartlek out there,” Obiri said, referencing a training system for distance runners in which terrain and pace are varied in an effort to tamp down boredom. “I just stuck my nose in there.”
American Emma Bates, who led late in the race before falling back, finished fifth in 2:22.10.
Bates entered Monday’s race with both of her top five world major finishes coming in Chicago where she was second in 2021 and fourth in 2019.
It rained off and on for the first half of the race, but held off in the second half.
Bates moved to the front of a lead pack of about 11 runners at about the 15-mile mark and led the group off and on for several miles.
Salpeter took over briefly as Bates fell back in the group around mile 18 in Newton, before Bates moved back ahead of Salpeter to resume setting the pace.
As they hit the next mile, the crowd began chanting, “Emma! Emma!”
Shortly afterward, Bates spotted her coach and shrugged, smiling.
“I was at mile 20 looking at my coach like, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m going to go with it,’” Bates said. “It was really surreal for the longest time.”
Ababel Yeshaneh, who had been in the middle of the lead group, tripped and fell with less than four miles remaining, but quickly picked herself up and was able to continue. That was after another racer also fell around mile 15.
Shortly afterward — at mile 25 — a group led by Obiri, along with Salpeter, Beriso, and Yeshaneh broke away from Bates.
Obiri and Beriso made it a two-woman race with about a mile to go.
Obiri then made her final move as they came around the stretch before hitting downtown. By the time they were fully onto Boylston her separation was too much for Beriso to overcome.
As she crossed the finish line, Obiri was greeted with a hug from her daughter.
“I tried to be patient and wait for the right time to happen,” Obiri said. “Today was my time.”
Associated Press reporter Jennifer McDermott contributed to this report.
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