by Clay Shaw
125th BOSTON MARATHON, October 11, 2021—Benson Kipruto of Kapsabet, Kenya, led the Boston Marathon for four miles – the last four! Kipruto knew the Boston course, having placed tenth in 2019. He had no races to run in 2020, but circled the 2021 Boston date and began training. He won the Prague Marathon earlier in 2021.
CJ Albertson of Fresno, CA, the self-proclaimed “best downhill runner in the world,” burst from the others immediately after the start in Hopkinton. Albertson enjoyed the lead on his 28th birthday, interacting with the crowd, while building up a huge lead of 2:13 through the half-marathon point. The 14-man chase pack caught Albertson in Newton Hills, just past mile 20. The real racing had begun with surges and counter-surges, and a few went off the back with every big move. Two miles later Kipruto made his winning move and ran alone for the final four miles. Kipruto won the 2021 Boston Marathon in 2:09:51.
Lemi Berhanu of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, finished second in 2:10:37, just ahead of Jemal Yimer, also from Ethiopia, who finished in 2:10:38. Tsedat Ayana of Ethiopia was fourth in 2:10:47. The parade of athletes continued without many gaps after Berhanu. Fourteen runners finished in the next two minutes.
Colin Bennie of Charlottesville, VA was the top American and seventh overall in 2:11:26. Albertson hung in, using his downhill skills, to place tenth overall in 2:11:44. USA Olympian Abdi Abdirahman was the top master. Abdi, who resides in Arizona, placed 24th overall in 2:19:23.
While the men’s race had a breakaway leader, the women’s race had a pack of 14 go through the halfway point in 1:14:11. Diane Kipyokei of Iten, Kenya made her move on the uphill between miles 18 and 19. The move wasn’t completely decisive as Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia caught her on a downhill. The two ran together briefly, and then Kipyokei surged to the front again. In the latter miles, Edna Kiplagat, one of the most accomplished marathoners of all time, began to move up in the standings. Kiplagat, 41, is Kenyan and lives in Boulder, Colorado. Her remarkable career has two World Championship Marathon titles (2011 Daegu and 2013 Moscow) as well as Boston and New York City Marathon wins. She also won two competitive shorter races this summer, with wins at Bix 7 and Falmouth in 2021.
Mary Ngugi of Nyahururu, Kenya was third in 2:25:20. Monicah Ngige, a Kenyan athlete based in Lansing, Michigan was fourth in 2:25:32. Gudeta finished fifth in 2:26:09.
Nell Rojas of Boulder, CO had a solid Abbott Marathon Majors debut with a sixth place finish and a new PR of 2:27:12. Elaina Tabb of Boston, MA (and Pittsburgh native), ran a great second half to place 12th in 2:30:33, in what could be her last professional race. Dakota Lindwurm of Minnesota placed 13th in 2:31:04. Lindwurm was often seen smiling while she ran in the 14-woman lead pack through halfway.
Edna Kiplagat was not only 2nd overall, but the top master. Dot McMahan, Michigan, was 2nd master in 2:38:45. 3rd master was Shalane Flanagan, a not so retired runner who is running all five Abbott Marathon Majors in 2021. Flanagan also ran Chicago the day prior to Boston, and finished Boston in 2:40:34, 33rd among the women. Shalane had run Berlin and London, and plans to run New York early November. Tokyo 2021 is cancelled, so she will run it virtually in the time period.
Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race with sheer downhill speed, in 1:18:11. A missed right turn onto Hereford caused him the course record and $50,000. Hug said it was his fault for following the press truck, which must leave the course at that point. Daniel Romanchuk from Champaign, IL took second in 1:25:46. Romanchuk had won Chicago the previous day with a narrow victory over Hug.
Manuela Schar of Switzerland won convincingly in 1:35:21. Tatyana McFadden of Clarksville, MD was second in 1:50:20. McFadden won Chicago the previous day; Schar did not compete in Chicago. McFadden said Chicago was a tougher race than normal due to big headwinds. McFadden loves coming to Boston and definitely didn’t want to miss the race.
Jenny Hitchings, 57, of Sacramento, CA broke her 55-59 age group world record by five minutes by running a 2:45:32. She had previously run 2:50:36 at the 2019 New York City Marathon.
In 2021 with much uncertainty in the advance planning that goes into staging a major marathon, the size of the field was reduced by more than half. 15,387 runners finished in 2021, down from 32,019 in 2019. Runners, volunteers, and media needed to prove that they were vaccinated and wear a wristband that is nontransferable. (Mine is still on, LOL.) Boston in the fall on Indigenous Peoples’ Day with autumn colors, made for an interesting backdrop and brought about a sense of normalcy. Hopefully 2022 will be even more normal with its return to Patriots’ Day on the third Monday in April.
- 2:24:45 Diane Kipyokei, Kenya
- 2:25:09 Edna Kiplagat, Kenya (Boulder, CO)
- 2:25:20 Mary Ngugi, Kenya
- 2:25:32 Monicah Ngige, Kenya (Lansing, MI)
- 2:26:09 Netsanet Gudeta, Ethiopia
- 2:27:12 Nell Rojas, Boulder, CO
- 2:27:38 Workenesh Edesa, Ethiopia
- 2:28:04 Atsede Baysa, Ethiopia
- 2:29:05 Biruktayit Eshetu, Ethiopia
- 2:29:06 Tigist Abayechew, Ethiopia
- 2:29:54 Caroline Rotich, Kenya (Santa Fe, NM)
- 2:30:33 Elaina Tabb, Pittsburgh, PA
- 2:31:04 Dakota Lindwurm, Burnsville, MN
- 2:32:09 Mare Dibaba, Ethiopia
- 2:33:03 Caroline Chepkoech, Kenya
- 2:33:22 Susanna Sullivan, Reston, VA
- 2:35:25 Desiree Linden, Charlevoix, MI
- 2:35:55 Paige Stoner, Charlottesville, VA
- 2:36:33 Emma Spencer, Durham, NC
- 2:37:01 Caitlin Phillips, Brooklyn, NY
- 2:09:51 Benson Kipruto, Kenya
- 2:10:37 Lemi Berhanu, Ethiopia
- 2:10:38 Jemal Yimer, Ethiopia
- 2:10:47 Tsedat Ayana, Ethiopia
- 2:11:11 Leonard Barsoton, Kenya
- 2:11:16 Bayelign Teshager, Ethiopia
- 2:11:36 Colin Bennie, Charlottesville, VA
- 2:11:38 Dejene Debela, Ethiopia
- 2:11:40 Wilson Chebet, Kenya
- 2:11:44 CJ Albertson, Fresno, CA
- 2:11:48 Felix Kandie, Kenya
- 2:11:56 Jake Robertson, New Zealand
- 2:12:00 Geoffrey Kirui, Kenya
- 2:12:11 Asefa Mengstu, Ethiopia
- 2:12:37 Kelkile Gezahegn, Ethiopia
- 2:13:47 Scott Fauble, Flagstaff, AZ
- 2:14:29 Scott Smith, Flagstaff, AZ
- 2:14:47 Harvey Nelson, Flagstaff, AZ
- 2:15:03 Filex Kiprotich, Kenya
- 2:15:47 Matthew McDonald, Boston, MA
Top Women, Wheelchair
- 1:35:21 Manuela Schar. Switzerland
- 1:50:20 Tatyana McFadden, Clarksville, MD
- 1:51:24 Yen Hoang, Vancouver, WA
Top Men, Wheelchair
- 1:18:11 Marcel Hug, Switzerland
- 1:25:46 Daniel Romanchuk, Champaign, IL
- 1:28:43 Ernst Van Dyk, South Africa
Categories: Race Coverage