NEW YORK — Wilson Kipsang emerged from a two-man duel to win the New York City Marathon in his debut, while Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi was fourth Sunday.
Kipsang, the Kenyan and former marathon world-record holder, won in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 55 seconds. Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa entered Central Park neck and neck with Kipsang and finished 11 seconds behind.
Another Ethiopian, 2010 New York winner Gebre Gebremariam, placed third in 2:12:13.
Keflezighi finished fourth in 2:13:18, ahead of two-time defending New York champion Geoffrey Mutai. Keflezighi was the last U.S. man to win the New York City Marathon in 2009.
Keflezighi, 39, memorably became the first U.S. man to win in Boston in 31 years on April 21, one year after twin bombings rocked the world’s oldest annual marathon. On Sunday, he greatly improved on his performance at New York from one year ago, when he finished 23rd and was asked about retirement.
“I think the high from Boston is still going, and people saying, ‘Meb! Meb! USA! USA!’ is just phenomenal, and that really helped me at the end,” Keflezighi said.
Another Kenyan, Mary Keitany, won the women’s race Sunday, matching the closest finish ever with a three-second margin. Kenya swept the New York Marathon men’s and women’s races for the fourth time and second straight year.
Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki also ran her first marathon and finished in 3:26:33. There were 50,881 participants Sunday.
In the men’s race, Desisa made brief contact with Kipsang in the final few hundred meters, after which Kipsang sprinted past the Ethiopian.
“When I saw that Lelisa was running really close to me, I had to save energy for the closing kick,” Kipsang said. “I was trying to check the distance and the amount of energy that was really left. So I was really very sure of that kind of sprint, even if it was 50 meters, I was ready for it.”
Kipsang added New York to his 2013 Berlin and 2014 London Marathon titles. Kipsang beat the world record in winning the 2013 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:23, a mark that was broken by countryman Dennis Kimetto in Berlin this year.
Kipsang also clinched the World Marathon Majors series title, combining results from the top marathons in the world over the last two years. He earned $500,000 on top of his $100,000 check for prevailing Sunday.
Kipsang said that due to sustained 31mph winds at the start — with temperatures in the low 40s — the New York winning time was the slowest since 1995.
“I was feeling very strong, but there was no way I could really take off at high speed because there was a lot of headwind and everybody was trying to run from behind,” Kipsang said.
Desisa said he relieved himself at about the 15km (9.3 miles) mark.
“My bladder is full,” he said. “Maybe this is good to release, the bathroom. … Because my bladder is full, I’m not relaxed because of that.”