New York City Marathon: Decisive wins for Jeptoo and Mutai of Kenya

Bizunesh Deba (left), Prizcah Jeptoo and Jelena Prokopcuka)
Bizunesh Deba (left), Prizcah Jeptoo and Jelena Prokopcuka)

New YorkGeoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya did what they needed to do on Sunday (3) at the ING New York City Marathon, winning the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 2:08:24 and 2:25:07 respectively, and though the times didn’t approach their own bests, the races themselves were not lacking for drama.

Jeptoo overtakes Deba for the win

Jeptoo, the 2013 London Marathon champion, found her work cut out for her when 2011 New York runner-up Bizunesh Deba  broke away from the pack and built a lead which exceeded three minutes at halfway.

Deba, an Ethiopian but also a resident of the Bronx who had made no secret of her desire to be the first New York resident in more than thirty years to win the New York City Marathon, was simply cranking out metronomic splits on her goal pace.

She shared the lead with her lesser-known countrywoman and training partner Tigist Tufa (Ethiopia), a 2:40 marathon runner who began to fall back as the pair entered Manhattan and made their way up First Avenue towards the Bronx. Tufa eventually finished eighth in a big PB of 2:29:24.

By the time Tufa started drifting back, Jeptoo had already separated herself from the chase pack and set out for the front. As Jeptoo whittled down the lead, in one mile (from 21 to 22) taking off a whopping 22 seconds, the question became not if she would take the lead, but when.

The answer was approaching the 24-mile mark, and once passed Deba was essentially finished, sliding back 49 seconds by the finish and crossing the line in 2:25:56. It was Deba’s second consecutive runner-up finish in New York, more than two minutes slower than her previous one.

Third place went to a resurgent Jelena Prokopcuka, winner here in 2005 and 2006. The 37-year-old Latvian ran 2:27:47.

With her victory, Jeptoo, who was the silver medallist at the 2012 Olympic Marathon and the 2013 Virgin London Marathon victor, also became the winner of the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors cycle. The USD $500,000 prize for that series combined with her $100,000 prize money from New York made the win worth $600,000 to Jeptoo. Read more