Kenyans Stanley Biwott, Mary Keitany sweep NYC Marathon titles

Kenyans have swept the New York City Marathon men's and women's titles for the third straight year.
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Kenyan marathoners Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany were the first man and woman across the finish line in Central Park to claim victories at the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon in 2:10:34 and 2:24:25 respectively.

Keitany became the first woman to repeat as New York City Marathon champion since Paula Radcliffe’s two victories in 2007 and 2008.

“For me, when I was crossing the line, I was very happy” Keitany said.  “It was really amazing. To do it twice was really something great for me so I was very happy.” 

Biwott won his first World Marathon Major title to extend the Kenyan winning streak to four-straight years.

“I'm happy today for being the winner of the New York City Marathon,” Biwott said. “My game plan today was I run to win the race.”

Geoffrey Kamworor, who won a world championship silver medal in the 10,000-meters for Kenya in August, finished in second place with a 2:10:48 performance. Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa took third in 2:12:10.

Ethiopia’s Asefelech Mergia, who is also coached by Keitany’s coach Gabriele Nicola, finished second in 2:25:32. Keitany and Mergia embraced after the finish before London Marathon champion Tigist Tufa rounded out the podium for third in 2:25:50.

Portugal’s Sara Moreira, who finished third in last year’s race, finished fourth in 2:25:53 after leading for a majority of the race.

Last year’s race was won by Wilson Kipsang in 2:10:59, which was the slowest winning time since 1995. Biwott and Kipsang’s winning times being slower than 2:10 are the lowest consecutive winning times since German Silva’s back-to-back wins in 1994 and 1995.

In order to shake-off a few non-elite stragglers, Ethiopian Birhanu Dare Kemal threw in a 4:50 mile at the 12-mile mark. Kemal, who was not listed in the professional field, was the first across the half-marathon marker in one hour and six minutes.

At the 20th mile, World championship silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor made a push that would drop defending champion Wilson Kipsang and 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi. Only Kenya’s Stanley Biwott and Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa would follow him back into Manhattan as Kipsang faded to fourth place and would finish there in 2:12:45.

Victory was in sight for Biwott as he rounded Columbus Circle with space between him and Kamworor.

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Keflezighi finished in 2:13:32 to finish in seventh place and set a new U.S. masters record for an athlete over the age of 40 years old. For Keflezighi, his next marathon will come at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Feb. 13, where the top three men’s and women’s finishers will go on to represent the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“If I'm going to make the Olympic team, I'd better run a lot faster. It's going to be very interesting,” Keflezighi said.

Keflezighi also noted that he only estimates running 26 marathons in his career before retiring. Sunday's race marked his 10th New York City Marathon and 22nd career marathon. In eight of his 10 races in New York City, Keflezighi has finished within the top 10, which includes a victory in 2009.

The first breakaway in the women’s race came after 19 miles as defending champion Mary Keitany and London Marathon champion Tigist Tufa ran a 5:29 mile to lower the pace by four seconds and string out the pack to just four East African runners.

Keitany would slowly increase the pace again after 21 miles and dropped Tufa. The Ethiopian waited until the 23rd mile to defeat Keitany in London so Keitany pushed earlier. Her 21st and 22nd mile were clocked at 5:14 and progressively got faster. At one point, she led by over a minute and cruised into Central Park uncontested.

Keitany could be a favorite for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team after a runner-up finish in April’s London Marathon and a win in New York. She remains the second fastest marathoner in history with her 2:18:37 personal best set in 2012 before a fourth place finish at the London Olympic Games.

“To win the Olympics, to get a medal means a lot. Now I've just started here, maybe now I'll go home and get some rest, and maybe we wait to be selected in Kenya.” Keitany said. “I'm readt to go to try to get the medal in Rio next year. It would mean a lot to me and also my life.”

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Former Colorado Buffalo Laura Thweatt made her 26.2 mile debut and was the top American in 7th place. Thweatt found herself in front of the pack before the race reached the Queensboro Bridge before the surge by the East African runners.

Thweatt’s performance makes her the seventh fastest American woman on the New York course as well as the seventh fastest American woman in the marathon since the start of 2013. Heading into Sunday’s marathon, Thweatt said that she would not contest the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in February.

Thweatt reiterated that her focus for next year is on the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter distances on the track for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which will be held next August in Eugene, Ore.

“I'm not planning on running the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials,“ Thweatt said. “I'm going to stick to my original plan, which is going to be the track in July.”

No American woman has won the New York City Marathon since 1977, when Miki Gorman won her second crown.

Alana Hadley, 18, entered with the fastest American personal best in the field but was never in contention to challenge for the victory. Hadley started with the other elite women but was more than a minute back of the lead pack at the five-kilometer marker. She would drop out of the race at the 16 mile mark after stopping at the 11th mile to tend to her ankle. Her withdrawal was the third time in three chances that she has dropped out of a marathon in 2015. Hadley is eligible to race at the Olympic marathon trials, but can not make the team for Rio de Janeiro due to age requirements for the 26.2-mile distance.

In the wheelchair division, Erst Van Dyke won his second New York City Marathon title to go along with his ten victories from Boston. Tatyana McFadden, who will represent the United States at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro, set a women's course record in 1:43:04 to complete her third grand slam of the World Marathon Majors. 

The next World Marathon Major race will be the 2016 Tokyo Marathon in February.