Peres Jepchirchir wins Boston Marathon on 50th anniversary of first official women’s race
Posted On April 18, 2022
Reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir has capped the celebration of a half-century of women in the Boston Marathon with a finish to top them all.
The marathon returned to its traditional Apriil time slot for the first time since the pandemic
WInner Peres Jepchirchir traded places with Ababel Yeshaneh eight times in the final mile
Supporters waved Ukraine flags in support of the 11 Ukraininan runners
The 28-year-old Kenyan won a see-saw sprint in the closing stages on Monday, when the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon returned to its traditional spring start for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s race, Jepchirchir traded places with Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh eight times in the final mile (1.6km) before pulling ahead for good on Boylston Street, finishing in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 1 second.
“I was feeling she was strong. I pushed it,” said Jepchirchir, who earned $150,000 and the traditional gilded olive wreath to go with her Olympic gold medal and 2021 New York City Marathon title.
In the men’s race, Evans Chebet completed the Kenyan sweep, breaking away from Gabriel Geay with about four miles to go to finish in 2:06:51 for his first major marathon victory.
The 2019 winner, Lawrence Cherono, was second, 30 seconds back, while defending champion Benson Kipruto was third, and Geay fell back to fourth.
Daniel Romanchuk of Champaign, in the US state of Illinois, won his second career wheelchair title in 1:26:58.
Switzerland’s Manuela Schär won her second-straight Boston crown and fourth overall, finishing in 1:41:08.
More than 28,000 runners returned to Boston’s streets, six months after a smaller and socially distanced event that was the only autumn race in its 126-year history.
Fans waved Ukrainian flags in support of the runners whose 26.2-mile run Monday was the easiest part of their journey.
Forty-four Ukrainian citizens had registered for the race. Only 11 started but they all finished.
“I decided to come here and show that Ukrainians are strong, we’re fighting and we hope peace will come soon,” Dmytro Molchanov, a Ukrainian who lives in New York, said.
“It’s really tough, basically, being here while all my family, my friends and Ukrainians are fighting over there for peace in my country, in Europe and the world overall,” said Molchanov, who finished in 2:39:20.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus were uninvited in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainians who were unable to make it to Boston were offered a deferral or refund.
“Whatever they want to do, they can do,” Boston Athletic Association president Tom Grilk said.
“Run this year, run next year. You want a puppy? Whatever. There is no group we want to be more helpful to.”
Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh, who was third in New York last autumn, spent most of the morning running shoulder to shoulder — or even closer: Just after the 25-kilometre marker, the Ethiopian’s eyes wandered from the course and she drifted into Jepchirchir.
Yeshaneh reached out to apologise, and the two clasped each other’s arms as they continued on.
“In running, we understand each other and we maybe somebody came and bumps, but it’s OK,” Jepchirchir said.
“It was not rivalism; it was just an accident.”
Beaten, Yeshaneh finished four seconds back. Kenya’s Mary Ngugi finished third for the second time in six months, following her podium in October after the 125th race was delayed, cancelled and delayed again.
About 20 men stayed together before Chebet and Geay broke from the pack coming out of Heartbreak Hill. Chebet pulled away a couple of miles later.
“We had communicated earlier, all of us. We wanted to keep running as a group,” said Chebet, who finished fourth in London last year.
“I observed that my counterparts were nowhere near me and that gave me the motivation.”
This race marked the 50th anniversary of Nina Kuscsik’s victory in the first official women’s race.
She was not the first woman to finish: That honour belongs to Bobbi Gibb, who first ran in 1966 among the unofficial runners known as bandits.
At Wellesley College, the women’s school near the halfway point, the iconic “scream tunnel” was back after the pandemic-induced absence — and louder than ever.
One spectator in Wellesley held a sign that read “50 Years Women Running Boston”, along with names of the eight who broke the gender barrier in 1972.
Five of the original pioneers returned for this year’s celebration, including Valerie Rogosheske, who finished sixth in 1972. She served as the honorary starter for the women’s elite field and ran the race with her daughters, who held up banners marking the anniversary as they crossed the finish.
Rogosheske, who wore bib number 1972, said at the starting line that she had been planning to hide in the bushes and run as a bandit 50 years ago until women got the go-ahead a few weeks before the race.
“It’s a reminder that we’ve got it pretty easy,” said 2018 winner Des Linden, who finished 13th on Monday.
“Fifty years ago, they were breaking barriers and doing the hard part.”