Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boston Marathon 2008

Kenyan great Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot etched his name into the record book of the fabled Boston Marathon yesterday with his epic fourth victory.
Cheruiyot, who won this race for the first time in 2003 before adding wins in each of the past two years, cemented a three-peat with a gutsy first-place time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, 46 seconds.
Running into a head wind, Cheruiyot finished 32 seconds off the course record he set in 2006. It wasn’t for lack of trying: He reached the 20-mile mark in 1:36:10, seven seconds under record pace, but running alone can often be the cruelest of foes.
Boston is very different from the other marathons, Cheruiyot said. As usual, the course was very difficult. Last year, we ran 2:14, and I tried to push harder this year to achieve my personal goal of running 2:07 or faster.
Dire Tune made a single definitive surge in the closest women’s race in Boston Marathon history.
The dynamic Ethiopian newcomer outkicked Russian veteran Alevtina Biktimirova across a 50-yard stretch of Boylston Street to win the women’s division of the 112th running of the 26-mile, 385-yard race.
The 22-year-old Tune broke the tape in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 25 seconds, just three strides ahead of Biktimirova, who crossed at 2:25:27. Tune’s finishing burst settled a grueling battle of wills that began 6.2 miles earlier at the base of Heartbreak Hill.
Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, who won the Boston Marathon in 2006, was third (2:26:34) while two-time runner-up Jelena Prokopcuka (2:28:12) of Latvia was fourth.
Even before I came to Boston, I was confident I could win the Boston Marathon, Tune said through her interpreter.
From the beginning to the end of the race, my training and performance helped me finish strong. Once I saw the finish line, I was certain I would finish first.
There was little need for Ernst Van Dyk to change the strategy he’s used in winning six wheelchair titles entering yesterday’s 112th Boston Marathon.
With clear, dry conditions, the only challenge the 35-year-old South African faced was the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street in downtown Boston. Van Dyk never faltered as he reclaimed his position as the most dominant male wheelchair competitor in event history.
The powerful Van Dyk more than made up for last year’s disappointing third-place finish with his seventh title yesterday, finishing in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 49 seconds. Countryman Krige Schabort was a distant second in 1:30:39, while defending champion Masazumi Soejima of Japan finished third in 1:33:00.
Van Dyk, who owned the division with six consecutive wins between 2001-06, collected $15,000 for the victory. His win leaves him one short of female competitor Jean Driscoll’s wheelchair record of eight.
Wakako Tsuchida grabbed the lead early in Ashland and posted an easy victory in 1 hour, 48 minutes, 32 seconds in dry conditions. After third- and fourth-place finishes in 2002 and ’03,respectively, Tsuchida has suddenly become the woman to beat on the fabled 26.2-mile course.
I’ve always seen Boston as a very historic marathon, and that’s why I come,” said Tsuchida, a two-time winner of the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii. “It was windy, but there were a lot more people cheering. It was fantastic.
Much like Ernst Van Dyk’s victory on the men’s side, Tsuchida’s win never was in question. She led at every checkpoint, increasing her lead as the race progressed. She finished an amazing 7:46 ahead of runner-up Diane Roy of Canada (1:56.18). Cheri Blauwet, 27, of Palo Alto, Calif., was third (2:00:48).
There wasn’t one specific point where I knew I’d win,” she said. “I didn’t look back until I crossed the finish line. I didn’t worry about anybody else. I set my pace and stuck with it. I’ll definitely be back next year.
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