Sharon Lokedi on her way to winning the New York City Marathon (© Getty Images)
Sharon Lokedi displayed remarkable discipline to win the TCS New York City Marathon on her debut at the distance, while Evans Chebet’s patience paid off to win the men’s contest at the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race on Sunday (6).
The Kenyan duo won the elite races in 2:23:23 and 2:08:41 respectively, having made up significant ground on the long-time leaders.
Lokedi flew under the radar heading into the women’s race as most of the focus was on world champion Gotytom Gebreslase, two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, who was making her marathon debut, and world bronze medallist Lonah Chemtai Salpeter.
All four women featured in the large lead pack for the first half of the race as they passed through 10km in a conservative 34:24 before reaching the half-way point in 1:12:17. A few kilometres later, the pack had been whittled down to eight women, with two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat among them.
By 30km, however, three women had broken away from the rest of the field as Gebreslase, Obiri and Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo reached that checkpoint 1:42:27. At that point, Salpeter, Lokedi and Kiplagat were in a five-woman chase pack about 11 seconds adrift.
A few kilometres later, Salpeter and Lokedi caught the lead trio, then Cheptoo began to fade. It left Obiri, Gebreslase, Lokedi and Salpeter as the only four women in contention as they raced through Central Park in the closing stages.
Of those four, Obiri was the first to fall back, but she was far enough into the race to know that her debut marathon would not be a bad one. Somewhat surprisingly, Gebreslase was the next to slip out of contention, the world champion resigning herself to the third step on the podium.
It then left Salpeter and Lokedi to duel for the victory and for a moment it seemed as though Salpeter was the more comfortable. But with one mile to go, Lokedi dug deep and started to pull away from the Israeli runner.
Lokedi reached the finish line in 2:23:23 to win by seven seconds from Salpeter. Gebreslase took third place in 2:23:39 with Kiplagat, nine days shy of her 43rd birthday, coming through to take fourth place in 2:24:16 – more than four minutes quicker than her winning time in this race in 2010.
Cheptoo held on for fifth place in 2:25:34 and Obiri finished sixth in 2:25:49. Olympian Aliphine Tuliamuk was the top US finisher in seventh, 2:26:18.
“It was amazing,” said the US-based Lokedi. “I came in just wanting to be in the thick of the race. I knew I was strong and had really good training, so I wanted to go in and put myself in it and see where I ended up. I expected to run well, but it ended up being an even better outcome than I had hoped for.”
The men’s race played out quite differently, as South American record-holder Daniel Do Nascimento made an early break from the rest of the field.
Evans Chebet wins the New York City Marathon (© Getty Images)
The Brazilian led by 97 seconds at 10km, reached in 28:42 – just two seconds slower than his 10,000m track PB – and went on to reach half way in 1:01:22, more than two minutes ahead of the rest of the field and well inside course record pace.
A six-man chase pack – which included Chebet, Olympic silver medallist Abdi Nageeye, and 2020 London Marathon champion Shura Kitata – went through the half-way point in a more comfortable 1:03:35.
Do Nascimento continued to lead, although his lead started to wane – especially when he had to briefly take a visit to one of the road-side portable toilets. He passed through 30km in 1:29:09, now just over a minute ahead of Chebet, who had broken away from the rest of the chasers. By 20 miles, Do Nascimento’s lead was down to just 40 seconds. Not long after, and clearly struggling, he stopped running and crashed to the ground.
While medics helped Do Nascimento, Chebet cruised past. The Kenyan, who had won the Boston Marathon earlier this year, found himself with a 30-second lead over a three-man chasing group which included Kitata and Nageeye.
Despite a strong finish from Kitata, Chebet managed to hold on to the lead and crossed the finish line in 2:08:41. Kitata followed 13 seconds later, while Nageeye took third place in 2:10:31.
“The race was hard for me, but I was thankful for my team and have so much gratitude toward my coach,” Chebet said. “My team gave me motivation and I know that after winning Boston I could come to New York and also do well.”
1 Sharon Lokedi (KEN) 2:23:23
2 Lonah Salpeter (ISR) 2:23:30
3 Gotytom Gebreslase (ETH) 2:23:39
4 Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 2:24:16
5 Viola Cheptoo (KEN) 2:25:34
6 Hellen Obiri (KEN) 2:25:49
7 Aliphine Tuliamuk (USA) 2:26:18
8 Emma Bates (USA) 2:26:53
9 Jessica Stenson (AUS) 2:27:27
10 Nell Rojas (USA) 2:28:32
1 Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:08:41
2 Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:08:54
3 Abdi Nageeye (NED) 2:10:31
4 Mohamed El Aaraby (MAR) 2:11:00
5 Suguru Osako (JPN) 2:11:31
6 Tetsuya Yoroizaka (JPN) 2:12:12
7 Albert Korir (KEN) 2:13:27
8 Daniele Meucci (ITA) 2:13:29
9 Scott Fauble (USA) 2:13:35
10 Reed Fischer 2:15:23