Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa captured his second Boston Marathon, while Kenyan Caroline Rotich won her first major marathon on Monday.
The top U.S. finishers were Olympians Desi Linden (fourth) and Shalane Flanagan (ninth) in the women’s race. In the men’s, Dathan Ritzenhein was seventh, and the 2014 champion Meb Keflezighi was eighth, holding and raising the hand of Hilary Dionne near the finish.
“Last year was an epic race, epic moment for Boston, for the United States and for the world,” Keflezighi, who turns 40 on May 5, said on Universal Sports. “I was hoping to defend it, but as soon as I got to … mile 21, 22, just tough going. I took a drink. It didn’t go down. They made a big move. The separation happened.”
Keflezighi said he stopped and threw up five times with the liquid not sitting well. He also said he cried on the final stretch on Boylston Street, site of his emotional triumph last year.
“I was hurting pretty bad,” he said in an interview on Boston’s CBS station. “I was very emotional.”
Keflezighi said he next plans to go on a tour for his book, “Meb For Mortals.” He has said he wants to run a fall marathon, perhaps New York City on Nov. 1, before the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
Desisa, who won the 2013 Boston Marathon before twin bombings rocked the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race later that day, pulled away from countryman Yemane Tsegay in the final two miles Monday. Desisa’s time was 2:09:17, 31 seconds faster than Tsegay in damp, windy conditions. In 2013, Desisa gave his winner’s medal back to the city.
Desisa, 25, has been first or second in every major race he’s finished in the last two years. He did not finish the 2014 Boston Marathon won by Keflezighi, hampered by an ankle injury picked up in training.
“Boston is my second home,” Desisa said on Universal Sports.
Ritzenhein and Keflezighi took turns at the front of the men’s lead group in the latter half of the race but were dropped as the pace quickened. They finished more than two minutes back.
Rotich, 30, battled Ethiopians Mare Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba in the final two miles, after dropping Linden. She outsprinted Dibaba by four seconds on the Boylston Street finish. Her time was 2:24:55.
Rotich had never before finished better than fourth in a major marathon.
“I have been waiting for this and training and training,” Rotich said on Universal Sports. “When we came through this last stretch, corner, I feel like, yeah I want to do this, and I could let it go.”
U.S. Olympians Linden, Flanagan and Amy Cragg were part of a 12-woman lead group at the half marathon mark, but all three were shed as the group thinned.
“I could just tell the pounding, the typical Boston course, my legs felt it,” Flanagan, who finished seventh in 2014 and fourth in 2013, said on Universal Sports. “I tried to talk them [my legs] out of slowing down, but they didn’t want to listen.”
No U.S. woman has won Boston since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.
Tatyana McFadden, an 11-time Paralympic medalist, won her third straight women’s wheelchair race in Boston in 1:52:54.
Swiss Paralympic marathon silver medalist Marcel Hug took the men’s wheelchair in 1:29:53.
The next World Marathon Major is the London Marathon on Sunday, featuring the last two men’s world-record holders, from Kenya, and world-record holder Paula Radcliffe in her competitive 26.2-mile farewell.