BOSTON (AP) — The 2016 Boston Marathon was a coronation for Ethiopia, which collected its first-ever sweep of the men’s and women’s titles.
That doesn’t mean the winners of the world’s most prestigious marathon will get a spot on the Ethiopian Olympic team.
Lemi Berhanu Hayle won the 120th edition of the Boston Marathon on Monday, and fellow Ethiopian Atsede Baysa took the women’s crown. But some of their countrymen are running in the London Marathon next week, and have a chance for faster times than the wind-slowed marks posted in Boston.
Unlike the United States, which held trials to select its Olympic team, the national federations in Ethiopia and other countries pick their teams.
“This is a major marathon,” Baysa said through an interpreter. “We don’t know what they are thinking, but we are confident they will select me.”
Hayle finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 45 seconds to beat defending champion Lelisa Desisa by 47 seconds. Yemane Tsegay was an additional 30 seconds back to round out an all-Ethiopian top three.
Baysa finished 44 seconds ahead of fellow Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye. Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui‘s third-place finish was the only thing that denied Ethiopia a sweep in both races. Kenya, which had dominated the Boston Marathon since the professional era began in 1986, had its worst showing since 1990.
“In sports, sometimes that happens. But not always,” Desisa said. “It is the performance on the day.”
And the performances in Boston might not seem all that impressive on paper. Hayle’s time doesn’t crack the top 150 marathon times in the world this year; Baysa’s 2:29:19 doesn’t rank in the top 50 for the women.
But Boston’s historic up-and-down course and lack of pace-setters leads to the kind of tactical racing that runners are likely to see in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s Boston field included three of the top Ethiopian women ever.
“Boston is different from any other races,” said Desisa, who also won the 2013 race a few hours before a pair of bombs exploded at the finish line.