Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia set a course record to win the New York City Marathon men’s race on Sunday while Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters to take the women’s title.
Tola finished in 2hr 4min 58sec, topping the 2:05:06 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. Tola pulled away from his compatriot Jemal Yimer when the pair were heading towards the Bronx at mile 20. By the time he headed back into Manhattan a mile later he was up by 19sec and chasing Mutai’s mark.
While the men’s race was effectively decided before the last few miles, the women’s race came down to the stretch. Obiri, Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia and the defending champion, Sharon Lokedi, took turns in the lead. But Obiri, the Boston Marathon winner in April, made a move as the trio headed back into Central Park for the final half-mile and finished in 2:27:23. Gidey finished second, six seconds behind.
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This was a stellar women’s field that was expected to potentially take down the course record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Unlike last year when the weather was unseasonably warm, Sunday’s race was much cooler – ideal conditions for record-breaking times.
Instead the women had a tactical race with 11 runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle, in the lead pack for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the group at points before falling back and finishing in eighth and ninth.
Once the lead group came back into Manhattan for the final few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi pushed the pace. As the trio entered Central Park they further distanced themselves from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, who finished fourth.
Switzerland dominated the wheelchair races, with Marcel Hug and Catherine Debrunner winning the men’s and women’s events respectively. Debrunner set a course record of 1:39:32, earning herself a $50,000 bonus on her New York City Marathon debut. Hug won the title for a record sixth time.
“I knew it was the toughest marathon and it was my first time,” Debrunner told ESPN. “I came away much earlier than expected and I did the whole race by myself. It means the world to me. I won the whole marathon series and that’s so insane. It’s been a fairytale season.”