BOSTON: Lelisa Desisa and Rita Jeptoo had already raised their Boston Marathon trophies on Monday when two explosions near the finish line killed at least two people and injured dozens.
Desisa, 23, won in 2’10:22 to become the fourth Ethiopian man to win the race and the first since Deriba Merga in 2009.
Kenyans had won the men’s title in the three editions since Merga’s victory, but this time around they could do no better than second – and Kenya’s Micah Kogo had to battle at the finish to hold off Ethiopian Gebregziabher Gebremariam for the runner-up spot.
Kogo was second in 2’10:27 and Gebremariam third in 2’10:28. Defending men’s champion Wesley Korir was fifth in 2’12.30.
Desisa was running just his second career marathon. He made an impressive debut at the demanding distance in January when he won the Dubai Marathon in 2’04:45 – the 13th-fastest time in history.
“Everything was good! The people are good, the weather is good – everything is good!” a delighted Desisa beamed after accepting his trophy, but the euphoria was soon to be shattered.
The event was plunged into chaos when two explosions near the finish line killed at least two people. Paramedics on hand to help runners battling with exhaustion and dehydration quickly moved to treat victims of the blasts, which left the streets littered with blood and debris.
Race stragglers were diverted away from the finish line, and organisers later said the explosions were intentionally set.
“There were two bombs that exploded near the finish line in today’s Boston Marathon,” organisers said on the event’s Facebook page, without providing a source for the information.
“We are working with law enforcement to understand what exactly has happened,” it said.
Jeptoo kept the Boston women’s title in Kenyan hands, finishing strong to win in 2’26:25.
Jeptoo, the third straight Kenyan woman to lift the trophy, added a second Boston title. Since her triumph here in 2006 she had taken time off from 2008-2010 to have a baby.
Ethiopia’s Meseret Hailu was second in 2’26.58 and 2012 champion Sharon Cherop of Kenya was third in 2’27.01.
Jeptoo said she had been training so well, she knew in the later stages she had plenty in reserve.
“I knew I was ready when I came to Boston this year,” she said. “At 35km, I was very, very strong.”
However, the image of the triumphant elite runners was soon replaced by that of frightened people streaming away from the scene of the explosions. — AFP