Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia set a course record on Sunday to win the men’s New York City Marathon, while Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters to take the women’s title.
Tola finished the race in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds, beating the time of 2:05.06 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. Tola pulled away from compatriot Jemal Yimer as the pair headed toward Bronx Manhattan at mile 20, a mile later he was 19 seconds ahead and chasing Mutai’s mark.
While the men’s race was already decided before the last few miles, the women’s race came down to the finish line. Obiri, Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia and defending champion Sharon Lokedi all ran together and exchanged the lead. Obiri made a move as the trio walked the final half-mile back into Central Park, finishing in 2:27.23. Gidey finished second, 6 seconds behind.
Lokedi was 10 seconds behind Obiri, who won the Boston Marathon in April.
It was a stellar women’s field that was expected to potentially break Margaret Okayo’s 2003 course record of 2:22:31. Unlike last year, when the weather was unseasonably warm with temperatures in the 70s, Sunday’s race was much cooler – in the 50s – ideal conditions for record times.
Instead, the women fought a tactical race with eleven runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle in the lead group for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the group in points before falling back to finish eighth and ninth.
As the lead group returned to Manhattan for the final few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi set the pace.
As the trio entered Central Park, they further distanced themselves from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, who finished fourth.
The men’s and women’s winners were only a few minutes apart. About an hour earlier, Marcel Hug won the men’s wheelchair race, falling a few seconds short of his own course record with a time of 1:25.29. It was the Swiss star’s record-breaking sixth victory at the NYC Marathon.
“It’s unbelievable. I think it takes some time to realize what happened,” Hug said. “I’m so happy too.”
He is the event’s most decorated wheelchair racing champion, breaking Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley for the most wins in the division in the event’s history.