BOSTON: Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa claimed the Boston Marathon title Monday, winning his second crown in three years on the eve of the sentencing hearing for convicted marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Desisa won the 26-mile (42-kilometre) race in a time of two hours, nine minutes and 17 seconds, finishing more than a half a minute ahead of runner-up and Ethiopian compatriot Yemane Adhane Tsegay who clocked 2hr:09.48.
“Boston is my second home,” Desisa said.
Caroline Rotich of Kenya won the women’s title in a time of 2hr 24.55 in a race run under windy and wet conditions.
Running and remembrance shared the stage of the 119th Boston Marathon this year as Desisa also won in 2013, the same year bombs killed three, injured over 250 and forever changed the historic race.
The sentencing phase of Tsarnaev’s high-profile trial begins Tuesday in the city.
American prosecutors will argue Tsarnaev must be condemned to death for the attack when a court this week begins weighing up his fate.
Tsarnaev, a US citizen, faces either life in prison or the death penalty after a jury unanimously convicted him this month of carrying out the worst attack in the United States since the 9/11 hijackings.
Two years ago, Desisa donated his medal from his first title to the city in the memory of the bombing victims. The bombs went off just hours after he had crossed the finish line.
Desisa can hang on to this one if he wants to, and savour it as he won with a powerful burst to the downtown Boylston Street finish line.
Down to the wire
Kenya’s Wilson Chebet (2:10.22) was third and his compatriot Bernard Kipyego (2:10.47) fourth. Wesley Korir, also of Kenya, rounded out the top five. The top USA runner was Dathan Ritzenhein, who finished seventh.
Desisa, fellow Ethiopian Tsegay and the Kenyans Chebet and Korir moved to the front with six kilometres left.
In the final three kilometres it was just Desisa and Tsegay before the champion began widening the gap.
“I tried to push after 35 kilometres and then I come alone,” Desisa said. “The wind was very cold and that affected all parts of the race.”
Desisa returned last year, but was unable to finish the race because of an injury.
Defending champion Meb Keflezighi was eighth Monday after becoming the first American men’s winner since 1983.
“Last year was an epic race, epic moment for Boston, for the United States and for the world,” said Keflezighi, who had to stop running five times. “I was hoping to defend it.”
The women’s race went down to the wire. Rotich, who finished fourth in Boston in 2011, outsprinted Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba over the final 500 metres to win by just four seconds.
Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia finished third in 2:25.09. Desiree Linden was the top American in fourth place.
“I have been waiting for this and training for this,” said Rotich. “When we came through this last stretch corner, I felt like I want to do this.” (AFP)