Boston Marathon’s thrilling women’s finish celebrates historic anniversary

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As Kenyan Evans Chebet crossed the finish line to win the Boston Marathon men’s race, it was clear that the story of the day was unfolding four miles behind him.

In the women’s race that started eight minutes after the men, fellow Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the Olympic gold medalist, and Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh were about to drop Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, the world No. 2 female marathoner last year.

For the next nine minutes, Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh ran side by side. They bumped into and jawed at each other multiple times.

Yeshaneh finally took the front. Then Jerpchirchir countered and the see-sawing began. In the last mile, they exchanged the lead six times.

Jepchirchir moved ahead for good with the Boylston Street finish line in sight. She crossed it in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 1 seconds — just four seconds ahead of Yeshaneh.

It was a duel for the ages, one that cemented Jepchirchir as the world’s top female marathoner. And it came on the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s race in Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897.

BOSTON MARATHON: Results | More on thrilling women’s finish

“When you see the end, and when you see the tape for the finish, that’s where the strength comes,” Jepchirchir, a 28-year-old mom, said on USA Network.

Already the only person to win the Olympic and New York City Marathons in a career, Jepchirchir has now won arguably the three most prestigious marathons in a span of eight months.

She grew up racing on the track, running two to three miles to and from school each day, in a family of farmers who grew tea and maize.

She won the world half marathon championship in 2016, then had daughter Natalia in October 2017 and came back to earn her first marathon victory in December 2019.

“I remember when my daughter, Natalia, was 6 months old, when I started training, sometimes I would wake up to change early to go for training, then she also wakes up … so I’d stay and breast feed first,” Jepchirchir said before Boston, according to Olympics.com. “It wasn’t easy, but I worked extra hard to shed off the extra weight and return to my normal shape. Also having a baby motivated me in some way. I worked even harder knowing someone is depending on me.”

She was originally left off the Kenyan Olympic team in January 2020, then won the December 2020 Valencia Marathon in the world’s best time for the year (2:17:16), beginning what is now a five-marathon win streak.

Kenyan Mary Ngugi was third Monday. The top American was Nell Rojas in 10th. Des Linden, the last American runner to win Boston in 2018, was 13th.

“I’m towards the end of my marathon career, and with the last few years nothing major going on or major events, it’s easy to be like, What’s the point? This isn’t really that fun,” said Linden, a 38-year-old who hasn’t decided if she will compete through the 2024 Olympics. “A day like today reignites the fire and the passion.

“If they keep inviting me [to Boston], I’ll keep showing up.”

Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel dropped out around the 16th mile with hip pain.

Chebet clocked 2:06:51 for his first major marathon victory, leading the first Kenyan men’s podium sweep in Boston since 2012. The 2019 Boston winner Lawrence Cherono was second, 30 seconds behind, followed by Benson Kipruto, who won Boston last year when it was held in October.

“At the beginning I was not confident, I didn’t know I would come out as the winner,” Chebet said. “I observed that my counterparts were nowhere close to me and that gave me the motivation and determination to hit it off and be the winner.”

Chebet had the second-fastest personal best of arguably the deepest Boston field ever, a 2:03:00 from winning the 2020 Valencia Marathon. The farmer from the Kalenjin tribe beat nine major marathon champions on Monday.

Scott Fauble was the top U.S. man in seventh in a personal-best 2:08:52, the second-fastest marathon for an American since the start of 2020.

Boston was held on its traditional Patriots’ Day date for the first time since 2019. The race was held virtually in 2020 and moved to October in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Boston fields were arguably the best ever, thanks in large part to the other major spring marathon, London, being pushed back to October for a third consecutive year due to the pandemic.

American Daniel Romanchuk won the men’s wheelchair race in 1:26:58 after defending champion Marcel Hug of Switzerland withdrew before the morning start.

Swiss Manuela Schär earned her fourth women’s wheelchair title in the last five Boston Marathons.

The next major marathon is at the world track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July. The U.S. qualifiers include two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp, Seidel, Emma Bates and Sara Hall.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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