It wasn’t just the hills of the famed Boston Marathon course that provided the challenge for the elite field of the 119th edition of the race. Intermittent rain, a strengthening headwind, and a chilly 43-degree start turned the race’s focus from fast times to the feat itself. Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa won the men’s race in 2:09:17, and Caroline Rotich, a Kenyan who trains in Santa Fe, New Mexico, won the women’s race in 2:24:55.
“The wind is very cold and very strong,” said Desisa, according to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). “It forces you back. That is the effect on the fast of the race.”
Desisa, who also won the race in 2013, was rarely challenged during the second half. Adhane Tsegay, the eventual runner-up, put in a surge during the final miles and finished in 2:09:48. Kenya’s Wilson Chebet ran to a third-place finish of 2:10:22.
Dathan Ritzenhein, of Rockford, Michigan, was the top American in the men's race, finishing seventh in 2:11:20. Last year’s winner Meb Keflezighi, who turns 40 on May 5, was in contention late in the race, but faded to eighth and finished in 2:12:42.
On the women’s side, a large group remained through 20 miles until Mare Dibaba, of Ethiopia, made an aggressive move, covering the mile in 5:07. Dibaba and eventual winner Rotich traded the lead multiple times onto Boylston street where the race finishes, but Rotich, with a smile on her face, put in a final surge that was received without response by Dibaba (2:24:59).
“I got to the last corner and I saw the finish line tape, and I said, ‘This is it. I’m not going to let it go,’” Rotich said, according to the BAA.
Buzunesh Deba, an Ethiopian who lives and trains in the Bronx, placed third, finishing in 2:25:09.
American Desiree Linden, who was the race’s runner-up in 2011, led a large portion of the day, but was unable to respond to Dibaba’s initial surge. Linden finished as the top American in fourth in 2:25:39. Pre-race favorite Shalane Flanagan, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, who is the second-fastest American marathoner ever in the women's division, lost contact in the Newton Hills, but rallied late in the race to finish ninth in 2:27:47.