Kenya’s Mary Keitany once again proved she’s the queen of the Big Apple on Sunday, running away with her third straight New York City Marathon victory.
Amid mild temperatures and a slight breeze, Keitany led almost wire-to-wire on the way to becoming the first woman to win three straight NYC titles since Norwegian legend Grete Waitz from 1984-1986. She finished in 2:24:26, followed by fellow Kenyan Sally Kipyego (2:28:01) and American Molly Huddle (2:28:13).
Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen placed 14th in 2:41:01.
In the men’s race, 20-year-old Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea broke away from Lucas Rotich of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia near the 20-mile mark in the Bronx en route to a win in 2:07:51. Ghebreslassie, who placed fourth in the Olympic marathon this summer and won the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year at the age of 19, became the youngest runner and first Eritrean resident to win the New York City Marathon.
Abdi Abidrahman, a 39-year-old four-time U.S. Olympian, was the top American finisher in the men’s race, placing third in 2:11:23.
Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race in 1:35:49, while Tatyana McFadden won her fourth straight women’s wheelchair title and fifth overall in 1:47:43.
Keitany, 34, led fellow Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui and Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia pushed the pace off the front, going through the 5K in 18:42 with American Molly Huddle, making her marathon debut, a few steps back. That lead trio continued to pull away, leaving Huddle running by herself, about 5 seconds back at the 10K mark.
Through the half-marathon mark, Keitany and Chepkirui (1:12:39) were 46 seconds ahead of Mergia (1:13:25) and 56 seconds ahead of Huddle (1:13:35). Huddle ran strong, though despite Mergia falling back and Sally Kipyego, another Kenyan, emerging after the halfway point.
From there, Keitany broke the race open, putting a huge gap on Chepkirui by the time she entered Manhattan near the 16-mile mark on the way over the Queensboro Bridge.
Huddle kept her solid effort, becoming the first American woman to finish on the podium since Shalane Flanagan placed second in 2010, while fellow American Neely Gracey also ran strong with a eighth-place, 2:34:55 effort.
Led by Americans Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Llano, the men’s lead back ran through the 5K mark in 15:18. Although Llano fell back, Ritzenhein was still pushing the pace in the lead, coming through 10 miles in 49:05—about 2:09 pace. He insisted on running off the front, even though he wasn’t gapping any runners.
The first sign of change came when Rotich dropped a breakaway surge just after the 20K mark and started to gap the lead pack. Ritzenhein and seven other runners hung on and remained close enough to regroup. That group was intact at the halfway point (1:04:24), but moments later Ghebreslassie, Desisa and Rotich made another surge over the Pulaski Bridge on the way into Queens and separated from the field.
From there, Ghebreslassie did much of the work as that trio gapped the field and ran stride for stride down First Avenue. By the time the group entered the Bronx near mile 19, though, Ghebreslassie proved the strongest and ran unchallenged the rest of the way to his first major World Marathon Majors title. Desisa dropped out near Mile 22, Rotich hung on for second in 2:08:53.
Ritzenhein was still in sixth place near the 16-mile mark, but he eventually dropped out of the race near the 20-mile mark. Abdi Abidrahman, a 39-year-old four-time U.S. Olympian, was the top American finisher in the men’s race, placing third in 2:11:23.