Two years after the Boston bombing rocked the city's greatest tradition to its core, a sense of (near) normalcy returned to the 2015 Boston Marathon. Thousands flocked to the streets, celebrating the Patriots' Day holiday while still paying respects to the victims—some of whom crossed the finish line themselves.
As for the race itself, Lelisa Desisa and Caroline Rotich made sure it was one to remember. Desisa turned in a time of two hours, nine minutes and 17 seconds to defeat Yemane Adhane Tsegay and Wilson Chebet in the men's division, while Rotich of Kenya glided past Mare Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba to take the women's side.
|2015 Boston Marathon Men's Results|
|2||Yemane Adhane Tsegay||2:09:48||ETH|
A 25-year-old Ethiopian, Desisa was the victor at the 2013 marathon, a career triumph marred by tragedy. In the aftermath of that win, Desisa donated his medal back to the city of Boston, telling reporters at the time, "I want people to know I feel the pain."
Perhaps this time Desisa will be able to hold on to the symbol of his victory.
"I am happy to win, No. 1," Desisa said, per Cindy Boren of The Washington Post, "and for Boston—Boston 2013!"
On the women's side, Rotich becomes the sixth Kenyan woman in seven years to win, per ESPN's Darren Rovell. She pulled ahead of the Ethiopian Dibaba as the two churned the last bit of strength out of their legs going down Boylston Street. It turned out Rotich, who has previously won the Las Vegas and Prague marathons, had a little extra in her legs to pull away.
|2015 Boston Marathon Women's Results|
Desisa's run was a little more relaxing, as he established a good pace early and was able to thwart any attempts to overtake the lead. Tsegay made a last-ditch effort during the race's stretch run, but Desisa had enough in the tank to pull back ahead and run the final five kilometers mostly unimpeded.
The champions were running amid a more celebratory crowd than in 2014, albeit one with reminders of the 2013 tragedy everywhere. Security was once again heightened as officials attempted to perfect new parameters put in place last year. That said, there was a fresh-air feeling about the race, as if everyone could take a deep breath after the constant tension in 2013.
"Last year was without question the greatest footrace in the history of humankind," former runner Amby Burfoot told Jimmy Golen of The Associated Press (via MassLive.com). "Every runner and every spectator was a hero last year. We can't do that again. There's only one of those. This year is almost a return to the new normalcy."
In the United States, most of the spotlight rested on Meb Keflezighi, the Eritrean-born American who glided into the country's hearts with his victory last year. Taking the crown last year as the oldest winner in eight decades, Keflezighi was riding high on his newfound appreciation coming into Monday's race.
"When I won New York, I became famous, but when I won Boston, I became a celebrity," Keflezighi said, per Lindsay Crouse of The New York Times. "I heard someone call me a patron saint of running. I don't know about that, but I run from my heart, and for everyone else out here."
While he didn't repeat his 2014 effort, Keflezighi was far from a disappointment. His eighth-place finish is yet another boost to his resume as he heads for his 40th birthday on May 5. Keflezighi was second among American runners behind Dathan Ritzenhein, who finished seventh.
On the women's side, the focus was about returning glory to the title after the ban of back-to-back champion Rita Jeptoo. The Kenyan was suspended in November after testing positive for EPO, a drug popular in distance running and cycling. She had emerged as one of the more decorated runners in the world at that point, taking the marathons in Boston and Chicago in consecutive years.
"Looking back, I feel very naive now," runner Amy Hastings Cragg said, per Shira Springer of The Boston Globe. "One of her last miles was 4:48, something insane. At the time, I was like, 'Whoa, my mind is blown. That's so crazy. Amazing.' Looking back, I'm like, 'I was an idiot. That's impossible.' That's actually not possible for a woman to do at the end of a marathon. So, that's very frustrating."
Rotich should help bring back trust to not only the women's division but also Kenyan racing in general. Her clean run will undoubtedly help remove the shadow that's been over the sport since Jeptoo's positive test.
"I have been waiting for this and training and training," Rotich said, per Boren. "I feel like, 'Yeah I want to do this and I can't let it go.'"
Desiree Linden was the top American woman, with a stellar fourth-place finish. She was more than two minutes ahead of fellow crowd favorite Shalane Flanagan, who nearly came away with the gold medal last year. Overall, Kenya, Ethiopia and the United States represented 19 of the 20 top-10 finishers on the men's and women's side.
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