Eliud Kipchoge came to Boston seeking to add the world’s most storied annual marathon to his trophy case. He will leave with a sixth-place result and questions about whether he can achieve two outstanding, unprecedented goals.
“I live for the moments where I get to challenge the limits,” was posted on Kipchoge’s social media four hours after he finished. “It’s never guaranteed, it’s never easy. Today was a tough day for me. I pushed myself as hard as I could but sometimes, we must accept that today wasn’t the day to push the barrier to a greater height.”
Kipchoge was dropped around 19 miles in his Boston Marathon debut in the middle of the race’s famed hills. He finished 3 minutes, 29 seconds behind fellow Kenyan Evans Chebet, who clocked 2:05:54 and became the first male runner to repeat as Boston champion since 2008.
“I did not observe Kipchoge,” Chebet said of what happened, according to the Boston Athletic Association. “Eliud was not so much of a threat because the bottom line was that we trained well.”
It marked just Kipchoge’s third defeat in 18 career marathons, a decade-long career at 26.2 miles that’s included two world record-breaking runs and two Olympic gold medals.
BOSTON MARATHON: Results
Kipchoge, 38, hopes next year to become the first person to win three Olympic marathons, but major doubt was thrown on that Monday, along with his goal to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. Kipchoge has won four of the six, just missing Boston and New York City, a November marathon that he has never raced.
He skipped his traditional spring marathon plan of racing London to go for the win in Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897.
Kipchoge has yet to speak to media, but may be asked whether a failed water bottle grab just before he lost contact with a leading pack of five contributed to his first defeat since he placed eighth at the 2020 London Marathon. Boston’s weather on Monday, rainy, was similar to London in 2020.
Kipchoge’s only other 26.2-mile loss was when he was runner-up at his second career marathon in Berlin in 2013.
He is expected to race two more marathons before the Paris Games. Kipchoge will be nearly 40 come Paris, more than one year older than the oldest Olympic champion in any running event, according to Olympedia.org. Kenya has yet to name its three-man Olympic marathon team.
“In sports you win and you lose and there is always tomorrow to set a new challenge,” was posted on Kipchoge’s social media. “Excited for what’s ahead.”
Kenyan Hellen Obiri won Monday’s women’s race in 2:21:38, pulling away from Ethiopian Amane Beriso in the last mile.
Obiri, a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist in the 5000m on the track, made her marathon debut in New York City last November with a sixth-place finish. She was a late add to the Boston field three weeks ago after initially eschewing a spring marathon.
“I didn’t want to come here, because my heart was somewhere else,” said Obiri, who is coached in Colorado by three-time U.S. Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. “But, my coach said I should try and go to Boston.”
Emma Bates was the top American in fifth in the second-fastest Boston time for an American woman ever, consolidating her status as a favorite to make the three-woman Olympic team at next February’s trials in Orlando. Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato, who traded the American marathon record last year, didn’t enter Boston.
“I expected myself to be in the top five,” said the 30-year-old Bates, who feels she can challenge Sisson’s American record of 2:18:29, if and when she next races on a flat course.
In Monday’s wheelchair races, Swiss Marcel Hug won his sixth Boston title and lowered his course record from 1:18:04 to 1:17:16.
American Susannah Scaroni won her first Boston title in 1:41:45, ending Swiss Manuela Schär‘s three-year win streak. Schär was second through 20 miles, 3:04 behind Scaroni, but then reportedly withdrew with a flat tire.
The next major marathon is London on Sunday, headlined by women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, Tokyo Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in her 26.2-mile debut.
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