Ethiopians Sweep Boston Marathon
by Haley Hunt on Friday, April 29th, 2016
Established in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing competitions. Each year on Patriot’s day—a day also known as “Marathon Monday” to locals—30,000 runners and 500,000 spectators gather from around the world to cheer on runners in this renowned event.
Both a Masters and push-rim wheelchair division are hosted for men and women. In 1975, Boston became the first city to include a wheelchair competition. Today, more than 1,000 people with disabilities and impairments have entered the wheelchair division. Similarly unique to Boston is the inclusion of blind or visually impaired people in the competition; a program has been established to aid these runners throughout the duration of the race. In 2013, forty blind runners participated.
The course runs 26.2 miles through eight Massachusetts towns and cities: Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston. For the entire length of the race, fans line up on both sides of the course to cheer the runners on and to provide the runners with free water and supplements. Because this event is one of the more prestigious marathons, qualifying standards are strict. In the men’s 18-34 age category, a male runner must beat 3 hours and 5 minutes—3 hours and 35 minutes for women — in order to qualify for the next year. The qualifying time increase age. However, runners who enter through charities are exempt from these qualifying times. Approximately one-fifth of the marathon’s spots are reserved for those running for a charity; two dozen charities, each expected to raise ten million dollars a year, are endorsed each marathon season.
This year was the one hundred and twentieth annual marathon. The intense sun and warm temperatures (for running, that is) kept the runners’ paces were slightly slower than in past years. The elite women opened the race with deliberate mile paces of roughly six minutes. By the last four miles, the women’s leaders had almost secured their spots on the podium. Runners Joyce Chepkirui, Tirfi Tsegaye, and Valentine Kipketer ran closely for the remaining miles—the rest of their competitors far out of sight. However, Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia came barreling from behind in an incredible swing of 1 minute and 9 seconds for her final seven kilometers. She went on to win in 2:29:19. Tsegaye, the former leader and silver medalist, told the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) that she “knew [Baysa] was going to win” once she was passed.
On the men’s side, the large pack that meandered through the early miles was composed of the world’s strongest runners. However, defending champion Lelisa Desisa and Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu Hayle proved themselves as the favorites within the last ten miles of the race. In a dramatic turn of events, Hayle took advantage of the relatively breezy conditions to edge past Lelisa Desisa and break the tape at 2:12:45. “I’m so very happy. I’ve won some races before this one, but today feels like my birthday,” Hayle told BAA of his first career Boston Marathon victory.
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