After a cancellation and postponement due to coronavirus, the Boston Marathon was finally held on 11th October 2021. Twenty-thousand entrants took to the streets of Beantown hoping for personal bests and almost 20,000 more competed virtually, making it the largest Boston Marathon field ever.
Here are the highlights from the 125th Boston Marathon, including the men’s and women’s winners, wrong turns, standout races, and more.
Diana Kipyokei wins her first World Marathon Major
Kenyan Diana Kipyokei, in her World Marathon Major debut, took down four previous Boston Marathon champions to win in 2:24:45. Kipyokei ran a big negative split after going through 13.1 miles in 1:14:11.
Previous champion Edna Kiplagat took second place, which is the 41-year-old’s 10th World Major Marathon podium finish in her storied career. Mary Ngugi rounded out the top three with a 2:25:20 finishing time. Nell Rojas ran a personal best of 2:27:12 to finish sixth, taking home top American honours.
Benson Kipruto outlasts the pack
Benson Kipruto broke away from the pack in the final kilometers to take the men’s race in 2:09:51. The 30-year-old Kenyan continues a strong year of racing, as he also won the Prague Marathon on 30th May.
Ethiopians Lemi Berhanu and Jemal Yimer battled down the final stretch on Bolyston to determine the remaining podium finishes. Berhanu, a former Boston Marathon champion, ended up taking second (2:10:37 with Yimer finishing third (2:10:38).
CJ Albertson takes a risk, gets top-10 finish
American CJ Albertson is known for his feats of distance running strength. He owns the records for fastest marathon on an indoor track and the fastest 50K on an outdoor track.
At the Boston Marathon, he aimed to add a new item to his list of achievements – a Boston Marathon win. He took the lead immediately after the start and held onto it for nearly three-quarters of the race. At one point, he was ahead of the pack by over two minutes.
Although the pack caught and eventually passed him after 20 miles, Albertson managed to hang on to run 2:11:44 for a 10th place finish. Colin Bennie, of Princeton, Massachusetts, ended up as the top American, finishing in 2:11:26.
Marcel Hug misses course record by seconds
Swiss Paralympian Marcel Hug took home his fifth Boston Marathon title, but the win is bittersweet as he missed breaking his own course record by just a few seconds. Focused on finishing hard, Hug missed the crucial final turn onto Boylston Street. He had to turn around, costing him valuable time and momentum, in order to correct his mistake. He ended up finishing in 1:18:11, seconds above his record set in 2017.
Schar defends her Boston Title
Manuela Schar won her second Boston Marathon in three years, after taking the victory at the last in-person event in 2019. She finished in 1:35:21, nearly 15 minutes faster than the next racer, Tatyana McFadden.
Honouring Indigenous Peoples’ Day
There has been some controversy about the Boston Athletic Association hosting the Boston Marathon on Indigenous Peoples’ Day – a US holiday honouring the cultures and histories of the Native American people.
Usually, the Boston Marathon is held in April on Patriots’ Day, a Monday that is a holiday for the city. But with the 125th running moved to October because of COVID-19, its new date fell on 11th October, which is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
After coaxing from the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Newton Committee and others in the Boston community, the Boston Athletic Association shared how it would honour the holiday in a press release in August. The release mentioned an acknowledgement of the Indigenous homelands that the race passes through, a donation to Indigenous Peoples’ Day Newton Committee, and a celebration of historic Indigenous finishers of the marathon – including Ellison “Tarzan” Brown of the Narragansett tribe who helped coin the term Heartbreak Hill.
On 8th October, Boston police investigated a potential protest that could disrupt the marathon, but no disruptions have yet been reported.
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