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Results & Commentary: 2013 Boston Marathon

Highlights from the 117th running of the Boston Marathon


You could say that the men’s race at the 117th Boston Marathon evolved to be an irregular enterprise; but, that’s probably the case with most marathons. Even so, there’s no denying that there were strange goings on out on the route from Hopkinton to Boston.

First of all, it was a glorious day to run - temperatures in the 50s with minimal winds - but the lead men opted to meander through the opening miles seconds slower than five minutes per mile. At mile one, the clock read 5:09 and saw last year’s fourth place finisher, Jason Hartmann from Colorado, in the lead with Canada’s Robin Watson alongside him and Fernando Cabada, also from Colorado, a single stride in arrears.

Last year’s winner, Wesley Korir, who was embedded in the chasing pack of 20 or more runners, offered some insight. “It was quite tactical,” he explained. “It was Ethiopia versus Kenya. A day like today is when you need a guy like Ryan Hall, because Ryan likes to go out hard and push the pace. When you see more than five Ethiopians in a race, you have to be very careful. They run tactically, as a team.”

Even so, it was curious to see Hartmann, Watson and Cabada forge ahead, leaving a field loaded with 2:04-2:05 performers the best part of 20 seconds in their wake. At three miles, a split of 15:06 for the leaders was followed by 15:22 for the pack - a 16 second differential. At 5K, those numbers were 15:35 and 15:56 (19 second differential), with four miles covered in 19:59 and 20:16 (17 seconds). The leaders were far from flying; the chasing pack was far from chasing.

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In 2006, Rita Jeptoo won the Boston Marathon by 10 seconds. At the time, it was the closest margin of victory in the history of the race. Between 2008 and 2012, the women’s races were decided by a total—a total—of 10 seconds.  Jeptoo was not a factor in any of them.

This year, it was time for a change on both counts. While the women’s race of the 117th Boston Marathon had plenty of drama, the outcome was decided before the turn onto Hereford Street and it was the resurgent Jeptoo leading the way. Pumping her right arm in victory, she became a two-time Boston Marathon winner, claiming her second victory seven years after her first.

“Today I was running like 2006,” said the 32-year-old Kenyan, who missed all of 2009 and 2010 to maternity. “I was ready when I came to Boston.”

Jeptoo’s  time of 2:26:25 was 33 seconds ahead of runner-up Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia. Defending champion Sharon Cherop of Kenya was third, in 2:27:01, with Shalane Flanagan, who grew up in nearby Marblehead, Mass.,  fourth in 2:27:08. Defending her master’s title was Svetlana Pretot, 41, of France, in 2:38:19.

Marking the 30th anniversary of her 2:22:43 world best Boston Marathon victory in 1983, Joan Samuelson came into the race hoping to run sub-2:52:43, less than one minute slower for each year in between. She met that goal, and then some:  her time of 2:50:29 was the fastest marathon ever run by a woman in the 55-59 age group. The previous best was Rae Baymiller’s 2:52:14.

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Both competing for the first time in the Boston Marathon this year, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (JPN) and Tatyana McFadden (USA) won the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions. The Boston rookies employed very different but equally successful tactics in their commanding wins over large and talented fields that included numerous past Boston Marathon champions and Paralympic Games medalists. 

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B.A.A. Moment 2

1935 John A. Kelley

Born in West Medford, Massachusetts as one of ten children, Kelley ran track and cross-country at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. He did not finish his first Boston Marathon in 1928, but eventually competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons. A legend of the marathon, Kelley won the 1935 and 1945 runnings of the Boston Marathon. He finished in second place at Boston a record seven times. Between 1934 to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and 58th finish there.