Running in sensational conditions, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia surged to the finish and won the men's division of the New York City Marathon Sunday with a time of 2:05.59. Desisa held off countryman Shura Kitata, who ran hard to a 2:06:01 finish.
Desisa had the lead through the final portion of the 26.2-mile race, but Kitata was right behind the leader and appeared to have an excellent chance to pass Desisa and take the championship. However, while Kitata was right on the leader's heels, Desisa found that extra bit of strength and endurance he needed and clinched the race in the final 600 yards.
Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya ran a solid race but had to settle for third place with a time of 2:06:26.
On the women's side, Mary Keitany of Kenya picked up the battle and won her fourth New York City Marathon with a sensational time of 2:22:48. She romped over the field, finishing more than three minutes ahead of her competition.
She joined Grete Waitz by winning the women's race four times or more. Waitz was a nine-time winner of the event.
Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot joined her countrywoman on the medal stand by finishing second with a time of 2:26:02, and defending champion Shalane Flanagan of the United States finished third.
Flanagan, 37, has a first-place finish, a second-place finish and a third-place finish on her record. The 2018 race is likely to be her last New York City Marathon before retiring.
Keitany credited her victory to increasing her training level because she was unable to win the event last year. "I did not win the race last year, and I knew I had to do better," Keitany told ESPN reporter Lewis Johnson after the race. "I went home and I trained very hard for the event, and I was confident that I would do better. I am very pleased with the way the race turned out. This is a beautiful race, and I am happy."
Desisa explained that he was able to earn a victory in the race for basically the same reason as Keitany.
"Today was my day, and I am so happy," Desisa said. "I decided that it was not enough to finish third or second, and I wanted to win. I put in the work I needed, and I was able to control Kitata and finish the race."
Keitany started the race fairly slowly with a pace of 6:19 per mile through the first four miles. At that point, she picked up her pace, and by the time she got through the 13-mile mark, her pace was down to 5:18 per mile. She was able to maintain that pace throughout much of the race and finished with an average of 5:27 per mile.
Desisa had the second-fastest winning time in New York City Marathon history, and he was on a 5:04 per mile pace through the first three miles. He picked up his pace after that, and by the time the race reached the 13-mile mark, he was down to 4:39 per mile. He had a 4:49 pace throughout the full marathon.
Jared Ward was the top American in the men's race, finishing with a time of 2:12:24 and in sixth place. He was one of four Americans in the top 10. Ward was joined by Scott Fauble (seventh), Shadrack Biwott (ninth) and Chris Derrick (10th).
Flanagan was joined by Molly Huddle (fourth), Desiree Linden (sixth), Allie Kieffer (seventh), Mamitu Daska (ninth) and Belaynesh Fikadu (10th) as American women in the top 10.
American Daniel Romanchuk won the men's wheelchair marathon in a time 1:36:21, edging out defending champion Marcel Hug of Switzerland.
Manuela Schar proved to be the fastest in the women's wheelchair race, finishing in 1:50:27 and beating out American Tatyana McFadden.