By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kenyan half marathon world record holders Geoffrey Kamworor and Joyciline Jepkosgei powered to victories in the New York City Marathon on Sunday.
Kamworor reclaimed the New York title he won in 2017 in two hours eight minutes and 13 seconds and Jepkosgei surprised four-time champion Mary Keitany, winning her marathon debut in 2:22:38.
Kamworor, 26, took command in the final two miles for the victory over compatriot Albert Korir (2:08:36) and un-sponsored Ethiopian Girma Bekele Gebre (2:08:38).
Kamworor told reporters having his training partner, world fastest marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, at the finish line added extra motivation.
“I didn’t want to disappoint him,” Kamworor told reporters. “For my start of the race today, I was feeling okay… throughout the race I was okay.
“Winning the TCS in 2017 really inspired me.”
Defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia dropped out of the race around the seventh mile mark.
Desisa had been attempting the difficult task of trying to win again just four weeks after claiming the world championship title in the extreme heat of Doha.
Jepkosgei, 25, separated herself from Keitany, the defending champion, with five kilometres to go.
Keitany, 37, who had won in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, finished in 2:23:32 with Ethiopian Ruti Aga third in 2:25:51.
Jepkosgei praised Keitany’s experience and told reporters she didn’t believe the win was firmly in her grasp until after she crossed the finish line.
“I didn’t know I’d won it. My focus was to finish the race,” said Jepkosgei. “The strategy which I had planned was to finish the race strong.”
Swiss Manuela Schar routed the field in the women’s wheelchair competition, winning her third consecutive title in 1:44.20 for a four-minute victory over American Tatyana McFadden.
American Daniel Romanchuk repeated as men’s wheelchair champion, clocking 1:37:24 to defeat Swiss Marcel Hug by a second. Britain’s David Weir took third.
Des Linden, who set a blistering early pace to lead the women’s pack by roughly 15 seconds through mile 11, fell back to end the race in sixth place and was the top American finisher in her division.
The 2018 Boston Marathon champion said that she had not decided whether she would run in the Olympic marathon trials, while top men’s open division finisher Jared Ward said Sunday’s race had put Olympic qualifying into sharp focus.
More than 52,000 runners competed in the race in near perfect marathon conditions.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery, additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar and Christian Radnedge)