Boston Marathon sweep for Kenya, but not favorite Kipchoge

Defending champion Evans Chebet won the race again. He surged to the front at Heartbreak Hill to spoil the much-anticipated debut of world record holder Eliud Kipchoge

Evans Chebet of Kenya breaks the tape to win the 127th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 17, 2023, in Boston
Evans Chebet of Kenya breaks the tape to win the 127th Boston Marathon, on April 17, 2023, in Boston.Winslow Townson (AP)

Defending champion Evans Chebet won the Boston Marathon again on Monday, surging to the front at Heartbreak Hill to spoil the much-anticipated debut of world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and win in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 54 seconds. Hellen Obiri, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 5,000 meters, won the women’s race in 2:21:38 to complete the Kenyan sweep. Amane Beriso of Ethiopia was second, 12 seconds back, followed seven seconds later by Israeli Lonah Salpeter.

Kipchoge finished sixth — just his third loss ever in a major marathon to go with 12 victories. Scott Fauble was the top American, finishing seventh. Chebet is the first back-to-back winner since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won three in a row from 2006-08.

“In a marathon anything can happen,” Obiri said of the men’s race. “It was a strong field, and everybody was there to race.”

Chebet was in a lead pack that dropped Kipchoge around Mile 20, shortly after he missed his bottle at a water station. A threesome pulled away with about three miles left, with Gabriel Geay of Tanzania winning a footrace for second, 10 seconds behind the winner and two seconds ahead of 2021 winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

“Most of them blew up. Even Eliud Kipchoge blew up,” Fauble said. “I almost caught him.”

Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race in a course record time – his sixth victory here – and American Susannah Scaroni won her first Boston title despite having to stop early to tighten a wheel that began to wobble on the bumpy pavement.

“It’s better to pull over losing that time tightening it,” she said. “The speed you lose when your wheel is (loose) is much greater than the time you would lose by not tightening it. I was disappointed. I just tried to get back to the ... pace as quickly as I could.”

For the first time, the race also includes a nonbinary division, with 27 athletes registered.

Kipchoge had been hoping to add a Boston Marathon victory to his unprecedented running resume. The 38-year-old has won two Olympic gold medals and four of the six major marathons; Boston is the only one he has competed in and failed to win. (He has never run New York.) He also broke 2 hours in an exhibition in a Vienna park.

Fighting a trace of a headwind and rain that dampened the roads, Kipchoge ran in the lead pack from the start in Hopkinton until the series of climbs collectively known as Heartbreak Hill. But to the surprise of the fans lined up along Boylston Street for the final sprit, he wasn’t among the three leaders.

A dozen former champions and participants from 120 countries and all 50 states were in the field of 30,000 running 10 years after the finish line bombing that killed three people and wounded hundreds more. The race also included 264 members of the One Fund community — those injured by the attack, their friends and family and charities associated with them.

The city marked the anniversary in a ceremony on Saturday.

A robotic dog named Stompy belonging to the Department of Homeland Security patrolled the start line before the race began, trailed by photographers capturing the peculiar sight. Officials said there were no known threats.

At 6 a.m., race director Dave McGillivray sent out a group of about 20 from the Massachusetts National Guard that hikes the course annually. Capt. Kanwar Singh, 33, of Malden, Massachusetts, said it’s a special day.

“Ten years ago, the city came to a halt. It’s an incredibly strong comeback, as a group together,” he said. “I tell people, never bet against Bostonians.”

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