Kenyan Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir has won the New York Marathon while compatriot Albert Korir has claimed his maiden major victory on the men’s side.
Jepchirchir was joined by another Kenyan, Viola Cheptoo, and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh in a three-way battle throughout the second half of Sunday’s race, but put the hammer down in the last mile through Central Park to win in 2 hours 22 minutes 39 seconds.
Cheptoo, the sister of running great Bernard Legat, was just 4 seconds behind in a superb marathon debut while Yeshaneh took third.
Cheptoo dedicated her second-place run to compatriot Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death in her home last month, and said she would work to bring awareness to gender-based violence.
Kenyan police last month arrested the husband of the 25-year-old two-time World Championship bronze medallist Tirop, whose funeral two weeks ago was attended by over 1,000 mourners.
Cheptoo was with Tirop in September when she smashed the women-only 10-kilometre world record in Germany, crossing the line in 30 minutes and 1 second.
“It’s been really challenging,” said Cheptoo, who flew home with Tirop from Germany to Kenya. “There were no signs of abuse because she kept it to herself, and just knowing how she was murdered, the pain that she went through has really affected me.”
Cheptoo is among a group of athletes who came together with Tirop’s family to form “Tirop’s Angels,” a foundation that aims to raise awareness of violence against women.
“We want women… to be able to speak up, and we know a lot of athletes are suffering in silence,” she said.
On the men’s side Korir took the win two years after finishing second in the same race as the New York Marathon returned for its 50th edition of the hilly contest through the city’s five boroughs after not being contested in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Korir won in 2:08.22 hours with Mohamed El Aaraby of Morocco 44 seconds back, and Italy’s Eyob Faniel third.
Running legend Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia was a disappointing non-factor in the race which was opened up by El Aaraby and Faniel running an astonishing first half in a bold 1:03.57.
They were hauled in despite leading by over a minute at one point but somehow held on for brave podium finishes.