Mary Keitany, Lelisa Desisa win titles


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USA TODAY Sports Paul Myerberg analyzes how Lelisa Desisa and Mary Keitany appeared to win at the New York Marathon.
USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – Mary Keitany of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won the titles of the New York Marathon, with Keitany dominating the female side in 2:22:48 and Desisa moving away from a pack full of lead in the 25 miles to finish at 2:05:59.

Winning was Keitany's fourth quarter in one of the top events in the world. Since Norway's Great Witches has a runner that has garnered such a dominant stretch: Uijz won eight of nine marathons from 1978-86, the last six in a row. In addition to taking four of the last five events, Keitany finished second in the last year's marathon.

In the 2017 London Marathon, Keitany put a world record of women in 2:17:01. This third win of Keitany in London since 2011, although he finished a disappointing fifth in this year's event. Sunday's time was the second best in the history of the New York marathon.

"The record was not on my mind," said Keitany. "I say, okay, let me try to win, but I come to see that I just lost 17 seconds, but it's OK, and for me the win was very important."

Keitany was followed by Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya (2:26:02). Last year's winner, Shalane Flanagan of the US, rose in front of Rahma Tusa in Ethiopia near the 25-mile mark to get the third with a time of 2:26:22.

"I continued to think, to continue to struggle, you never know what will happen in front of you," said Flanagan. "When we finally got to this third place, I got another level of excitement and I felt really proud of myself at the moment because I kept fighting."

Keitany initially started to move away from the stadium in about 10 miles of the marathon. Up to the 19-mile mark, Keitany stood nearly 27 seconds ahead of Tusa and Ethiopia's Netsanet Gudeta. This distance increased to 54 seconds from the 20-mile mark. By the 22nd, Keitany's edge rose to an insurmountable 1:57.

"The pace of New York is not like other fights," said Keitany. "For me, it was not necessary to start (quickly) at the beginning, it was okay, I did not want to rush in the beginning, I wanted to be comfortable all over the race."

More: Marathon behind bars: 105 rounds around the prison yard

The female side was remarkable for the strong performance of US runners. After Flanagan came Molly Huddle (2:26:44) in the fourth and Desiree Linden (2:27:51) in the sixth, marking the first time since 1976 that three Americans had finished in the first six.

"It's definitely a big team or runners and I think we're constantly pushing the bar for each other," said Linden. "It's really a fascinating moment."

The men's team was much more competitive, highlighted by an amazing series of Desisa's top three players, Shura Kitata of Ethiopia (2:06:01) and Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya (2:06:26). Each of these moments is among the 10 fastest in the race history.

The finish of Keitany, the second fastest on the men's side in the history of the event. It was his first victory in New York, which won victories at the Boston Marathon in 2013 and 2015. He finished second in New York in 2014 and third in 2015 and 2017.

"This year, I was controlling myself and managing myself with my teammate, my coach, my manager," said Desisa.

Four American men broke the top 10, led by Jared Ward (2:12:24) and Scott Fauble (2:12:28) in the sixth and seventh, respectively. Shadrack Biwott (2:12:52) came to the ninth and Chris Derrick (2:13:08) in the 10th.

"It's great to come back and run with such a big American field," Ward said. "I think I'm starting to love New York – I always loved New York City. People were amazing all the way from the gun."

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