By Michael Sol Warren
BU News Service
Ethiopia brought its A-game to the 2016 Boston Marathon.
Runners from the East African nation swept the men’s and women’s titles and took five of the six possible podium finishes in the 120th running of the race.
Lemi Berhanu Hayle, a 21 year old Ethiopian, ran 2:12:44 to defeat defending champion Lelisa Desisa, also Ethiopian, in the men’s race. Desisa finished with a time of 2:13:32. Yemane Adhane Tsegay, also of Ethiopia, ran 2:14:02 to finish third and complete the nation’s podium sweep in the men’s race.
The men’s race was tightly packed for the first half of the race, but Hayle and Desisa moved to separate themselves through the Newton hills. The two were together until just after the 40 kilometer (24.8 mile) checkpoint. From there it came down to the younger, fresher legs of Hayle outlasting Desisa over the final mile and a half.
Atsede Baysa, a 29 year old Ethiopian, made a dramatic surge over the final four miles to overtake the lead pack and clinch her victory in the women’s race with a time of 2:29:19. Baysa was 37 seconds behind fellow Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye and Kenyans Joyce Chepkirui and Valentine Kipketer at the 35 kilometer (21.75 mile) checkpoint.
Tsegaye of Ethiopia, 2:30:03, and Chepkirui of Kenya, 2:30:50, finished second and third.
The women’s race started off very conservatively, with the lead pack going through the opening ten kilometers in 36:21 (5:48 per mile). Like the men’s race, however, the race opened up when Tsegaye, Chepkirui and Kipketer opened up a gap on the rest of the field through the Newton hills. These three seemed to be sure locks for the podium until Baysa made her decisive move to finish the race.
Defending women’s champion Caroline Rotich, a Kenyan who lives and trains in Santa Fe, New Mexico, dropped out of the race before reaching the ten kilometer mark.
American runners Texan Zachary Hines, 2:21:37, was the finished tenth and was the fastest American man. Coloradan Neely Spence Grace, 2:35:00, finished ninth and was the fastest American woman.
In the push rim wheelchair races, Marcel Hug of Switzerland fought off Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa and Kurt Fearnley of Australia to win the men’s title by less than a second. All three athletes finished with a time of 1:24:06. Tatyana McFadden of Maryland, 1:42:16, won the women’s race by more than a minute over Manuela Schar of Switzerland, 1:43:30, and Wakako Tsuchida of Japan, 1:43:34.
Bonus: Here is Baysa showing off her singing ability.