Soon after victoriously breaking the tape at the finish of the TCS New York City Marathon this past Sunday, Geoffrey Kamworor was warmly greeted by his training partner, Eliud Kipchoge, the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon gold medalist.
The two Kenyans represented the East African country’s recent dominance in the grueling long-distance discipline as the 24-year-old Kamworor, who finished second in New York in 2015, made it five out of the past six NYC Marathons on the men’s side won by a runner from Kenya and 14th overall, tying the United States for the most by a single country.
As Kamworor, who recorded a time of 2:10:53, rapidly dropped one foot ahead of the other in Central Park in the final meters of the 26.2-mile race, he was being urgently stalked by his countryman, Wilson Kipsang. He peeked over his shoulders several times to gauge Kipsang’s push and resiliently held off the 2014 New York winner by three seconds.
It was Kamworor’s first full marathon title after capturing two world championships in the half-marathon. Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia was third in 2:11:32, and last year’s winner, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea, dropped out of the race at the 19th mile.
“I knew that [Kipsang] was behind me, and I was just focusing on the finish line,” said Kamworor at the postrace news conference. “When I looked at the camera, I saw someone was coming and it was Wilson. I had to do my best to make sure that I won.”
The iconic event, run in overcast, high 50-degree conditions and comprising more than 50,000 runners, marked the competitive retirement of Meb Keflezighi, one of the most respected and popular figures in track and field. The 42-year-old Keflezighi, who competed in 26 professional marathons, including 11 in New York, won the two most celebrated United States marathons in capturing New York in 2009 and Boston in 2014, one year after the horrific terrorist attack at the race.
Ironically, Keflezighi’s final race took place less than a week after the fatal terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan last week. Born in Eritrea and immigrating to the United States at age 12, Keflezighi, who had a stellar collegiate career at UCLA, became the first American man to win in New York since 1982 and the first in Boston since 1983.
Collapsing at the finish line, Keflezighi, who finished in 11th place in 2:15:29, was helped up by his wife, Yordanos Asgedom. Meeting with the media afterward, Keflezighi expressed how humbled he has been by his life’s journey. “I am blessed,” he said. “God gave me more than I could ever handle. To be able to start here and finish here is an incredible ride.”
In the men’s wheelchair division, 2016 champion Marcel Hug defended his title in a time of 1:37:17. It was the 31-year-old Hug’s third NYC Marathon victory.