The 2014 Cleveland Marathon took place Sunday, with Philip Lagat emerging victorious in the men's division and Sarah Kiptoo taking the women's race—both with stunning times.
Lagat has already made himself known as one of the world's best long-distance runners, and his performance Sunday will only add to that. He won with a blazing finishing time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 38 seconds.
The Kenyan's time was the fastest finish at the Cleveland Marathon in more than a dozen years, per 92.3 The Fan's Nicholas Wilson:
For Kiptoo, her performance marked her second consecutive Cleveland Marathon win. The now two-time defending champion closed her showing on Sunday with an overall time of 2:34:57—about a minute slower than her pace the previous year but still enough to finish some six minutes before second place.
WEWS Cleveland captured a picture of Kiptoo crossing the finish line:
Kiptoo and Lagat are both members of the AmeriKenyan Running Club, making it a clean sweep over the marathon results for the team.
For Kiptoo, it was more of the same domination that she has seen in recent years. Not only did she win the Cleveland Marathon last year, but she also took events such as the 2013 Grandma's Marathon (Duluth, Minnesota) and Big Sur Half Marathon (Big Sur, California) in convincing fashion.
Here's a look at how the top five shook out for both the men's and women's runners:
As you can tell, Kiptoo didn't see much trouble on the women's side as she was able to cruise to victory with no real pressure from her fellow competitors. With a more than six-minute advantage on second place, there was little doubt heading into the final few miles that Kiptoo would hold on—especially given her previous marathon performances.
Kiptoo dominated the course format that you can see below, per Cleveland Marathon:
Dehininet Jara, a regular at the top of marathon leaderboards, finished in second in the women's race with a comfortable four-minute cushion over third-place finisher Carol Smith, who marked the only American to post a time in the top four finishers of either gender.
Kiptoo's wide margin of victory left no question as to who the women's winner would be, but the men's race came down to the wire.
Lagat ended up victorious, but he wasn't in position to do so for much of the race. Instead, it was 2013 Cleveland Marathon winner Philemon Terer and up-and-comer Eliud Too who were making waves.
At mile No. 11, Terer and Too were neck-and-neck as the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tim Warsinskey reported:
The two-man race made for a compelling storyline of favorite versus underdog, but it was soon wiped away when Terer faded down the stretch:
Emerging in Terer's place was Lagat.
What was a two-man race between Terer and Too turned into two-man race between Lagat and Too, with last year's champion fading fast and finishing outside the top 10 entirely.
Heading into the final few miles, it was still anyone's race between the two, as Cleveland Marathon noted:
Too kept up the pace and finished with an impressive time of 2:13:34, but when the marathon entered the stretch, there was no doubt that Lagat had saved his best for last. The underdog stayed within a minute of Lagat's winning time throughout the final moments of the race, but it wasn't enough to get back in front.
Third-place finisher Abebe Mekuruya joined Too and Lagat as the only participants to finish below the 2:20:00 mark. Every other male runner finished at least 15 minutes behind the winning time.
The imbalance at the top of the leaderboard, although nothing new in long-distance running events, was staggering in this event as well. With nearly 25 minutes separating first and sixth place in the men's race, and nearly 34 minutes separating first and 10th in women's, there was plenty of room for the leaders to roam.
But that's not out of the ordinary in these types of events. With a handful of the world's best professional runners competing in an event that features thousands of participants, one would suspect there to be such spaced-out finishing times.
In the end, the Cleveland Marathon—like so many others across the nation—is about coming together to celebrate a sense of unity and togetherness as a city. The 2014 version proved to be no different.
Marathon results courtesy of ClevelandMarathon.com