NEW YORK – Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa edged compatriot Shura Kitata to win the men's title and Kenya's Mary Keitany captured her fourth women's crown Sunday at the 48th New York City Marathon, on Sunday.
It was a historic day in perfect running conditions for 50,000 entrants in the 26.2-mile showdown over the streets of New York.
Two-time Boston Marathon champion Desisa, second in New York in 2014 and third in 2015 and 2017, finally claimed the crown in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 59 seconds with Kitata only two seconds back and defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya third in 2:06:26.
“I (was) thinking this year to be a champion,” Desisa said. “I'm very thirsty to be the champion. I've been second. I've been third. This year I decided to be champion because I had the training, everything in my power I controlled.
“Today is my day. I'm very, very happy.” he added.
The only faster time in the history of the New York Marathon was the 2:05:05 men's record set by in 2011 by Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai.
Keitany took her fourth women's title in five attempts after finishing second to American Shalane Flanagan last year, crossing the finish line in 2:22:48.
Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot was second in 2:26:02 with Flanagan third, another 20 seconds adrift.
“I felt great today. I'm really happy for winning,” Keitany said. “I did not give up (after last year). I went back home and said I will try my best and that's why I came back and that's what I did. I worked very hard for the victory.” she added.
Keitany, also a three-time London Marathon winner, was only 17 seconds off the New York women's record time set by Kenya's Margaret Okayo in 2003.
Only Norway's Grete Waitz, a nine-time champion from 1978 to 1988, has won more New York titles than Keitany.
In the men's race, Ethiopia's Kitata, also runner-up this year at London, and compatriot Tamirat Tola pushed the pace early, taking Desisa and Kamworor with them from the ninth mile.
Kitata, six years younger than Desisa at age 22, fell back to leave Kamworor and Desisa to fight for the lead. The Kenyan faded but Kitata surged and Desisa looked back with 1,500 meters remaining to see his work was far from over.
Desisa held off Kitata around the final curve and surged across the finish line to emerge the winner in the fastest 1-2 finish in New York history.
Keitany, 36, stayed among the women's leaders from the start, taking on the challenging pace of Ethiopians Netsunet Gudeta and Rahma Tusa in a midway breakout.
World half-marathon champion Gudeta cracked in the 16th mile and Tusa faded in the 18th, leaving Keitany to run alone to the finish line.
Flanagan and Cheruiyot, the 2016 Olympic 5,000m champion who won in London in April, charged over the final miles to claim podium places.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)