Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya (center) and Australia’s Madison de Rozario took home gold on Sunday, winning the women’s elite and wheelchair divisions respectively at the NYC Marathon Credit: Bill Moore photo

The TCS New York City Marathon returned for its 50th anniversary on Sunday after being cancelled last year resulting from the COVID pandemic. The number of runners was reduced from the normal 50,000s to the low 30,000s for COVID precautionary reasons, yet the 26.2 mile race still had the same energy, human interest stories and spirit the world’s biggest marathon always generates.

Beginning in Staten Island at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and ending at Tavern On the Green in Central Park, the race, which goes through all five boroughs, is a difficult course as competitors have to cross five bridges and tough city hills. Also resuming was the dominance of Kenyan runners with a first and second showing in the women’s division.

Following in the footsteps of the great Mary Keitany, the four-time NYC champion (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018) from Kenya who retired last year due to hip problems, Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, 28, won this year’s race in 2:22:39. Viola Cheptoo, 32, took second in 02:22:44. Ababel Yeshaneh Birhane of Ethiopia came in third in 02:09:52.

Jepchirchir, the gold medalist in the marathon at this past summer’s Tokyo Olympics, broke away from Cheptoo and Birhane in the final mile in her first time running the NYC Marathon.

“I have a finishing kick,” said Jepchirchir. “The way I used to train in Kenya, I trained harder near the end of my programs.”

Cheptoo shared how she sought advice from Keitany, who in addition to four wins in New York finished second twice and won the bronze two times. “She gave me a few tips on how to run the NYC Marathon,” said Cheptoo. Like Jepchichir, it was Cheptoo’s NYC debut.

American Molly Seidel placed fourth in 02:24:42. Australian Madison de Rozario, a 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympics gold medalist, won the women’s wheelchair division in 1:51:01.

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