Albert Korir men, Peres Jepchirchir women

NEW YORK (AP) – New York was looking for a comeback story for its 50th marathon, and Albert Korir delivered.

And for a city whose sports fans don’t accept second best, Peres Jepchirchir scored a memorable first.

Korir and Jepchirchir made a Kenyan sweep at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Korir winning the men’s race two years after finishing second and Jepchirchir becoming the only woman to compete in a major marathon in the fall after winning a gold medal Olympic.

The second oldest of the world’s major marathons returned after canceling in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a city where more than 34,000 people have died from COVID-19, organizers were hoping for an uplifting marathon-like celebration two months after the September 11 attacks.

In the streets emptied 21 months ago, except for ambulances rushing to help a city crippled by the coronavirus – and later filled with angst and frustration in the days following the murder of George Floyd – it There was simply joy on Sunday as around 30,000 runners made their way through the five arrondissements.

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Brooklynites applauded the first wheelchair contestants between sips of coffee. Crowds on Manhattan’s First Avenue greeted the Queensboro Bridge runners. Bronx supporters waved the runners into the home stretch.

They applauded and shouted for the elite and all the runners.

2017 champion Shalane Flanagan ran her sixth major marathon in six weeks – a first made possible because the Boston, London and Tokyo marathons were pushed back from spring to fall by the pandemic. The 40-year-old American calls her trip Project Eclipse because of the scarcity of the opportunity.

Also on the course: Dr Jose Alfredo Jimenez Gaxiola, a Mexican intensive care doctor who has weathered the pandemic and survived his own battle with COVID-19; Kellie Roe Kenny of Califon, New Jersey, a 9/11 survivor who first ran in 2001 in memory of her fallen colleagues; and Chris Nikic, the first athlete with Down’s syndrome to complete a full Ironman triathlon.

Molly Seidel finished fourth in her first race since her bronze medal at the Tokyo Games, becoming the first American woman since Deena Kastor in 2004 to win an Olympic medal.

She broke two ribs about a month ago, but managed to get out of it. She declined to reveal how she was injured.

“Every build comes with challenges,” Seidel said. “It was interesting.”

In the men’s professional race, Korir passed Moroccan Mohamed El Aaraby and Italian Eyob Faniel in the 18th mile and quickly eliminated any drama. He won in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds.

“It was not an easy race,” Korir said. “But I enjoyed it.”

It was Korir’s first victory in one of the World Marathon Majors and his first time on a podium since winning the 2019 Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon. Korir, 27, has finished second behind Geoffrey Kamworor in 2019 by 23 seconds and did not race again until June due to the pandemic.

El Aaraby held on for an unlikely second place after finishing 11th at the Tokyo Olympics. Faniel finished third.

Jepchirchir was alongside compatriot Viola Cheptoo and Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh from the moment they entered the Bronx to the entrance to Central Park.

Moments after swallowing two packs of energy gel, Jepchirchir turned on the jets and walked away, winning in 2:22:39.

“It’s not easy,” she said of the New York course. “Towards the finish line, I felt something that I had never felt before to finish a marathon.”

Jepchirchir, 28, won gold at the Tokyo Olympics marathon in August and returned on a short recovery to win a race once dominated by her hero Mary Keitany, four-time winner in New York City who recently retired from the sport.

Cheptoo finished second in his marathon debut and quickly found his brother, Bernard Lagat, who was broadcasting the race on ESPN. Yeshaneh was third.

Participants had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of race day. Runners entered for the 2020 race who were eliminated were given the option of a full refund or entry to the 2021, ’22 or ’23 races.

Celebrities on the course

The non-competitive field also had its share of famous athletes, including former US national women’s football team Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Kate Markgraf and Leslie Osborne. Former New York Giants runner Tiki Barber ran for the seventh time.

Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara was scheduled to perform the national anthem before testing her lungs on the course, while two members of British rock group Mumford & Sons were also signed up to perform. Contestants also included “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” contestants Matt James, Tyler Cameron, Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark.

Hug, De Rozario wins wheelchair races

Madison de Rozario of Australia won the women’s wheelchair race of the New York Marathon, fending off former champions Tatyana McFadden and Manuela Schär for her first victory in the Big Apple.

The 27-year-old won gold over Schär at this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Marathon by just one second, but she blew the field away on Sunday, winning by nearly three minutes to 1 hour, 51 minutes and 1 second. McFadden was second and Schär third.

De Rozario, who developed transverse myelitis at the age of 4, competed in New York for the third time. Her best result was fifth in 2017. She is the first Australian to win the New York Marathon.

Switzerland’s Marcel Hug has won the men’s wheelchair race for the fourth time, leaving the field early for his first title since 2017.

The 35-year-old added another award to a remarkable year that included four gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, including the marathon. He also won the Boston Marathon last month.

Hug, born with spina bifida, finished second behind American Daniel Romanchuk in 2018 and ’19. This latest defeat only came one second.

Hug finished in 1:31:24, over 6.5 minutes ahead of Briton David Weir in second and Romanchuck in third.

About Ethel Partin

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