Nairobi — Geoffrey Kamworor sprinted away from compatriot Albert Korir in the final three kilometres of the race to clinch his second New York Marathon in 2hrs, 08mins and 13 seconds with his compatriot coming in second 15 seconds later.
At the finish line, the World Half Marathon specialist was congratulated by world record holder Eliud Kipchoge who is still basking in the glory of becoming the first man to ever run the marathon under two hours, having achieved the feat at last month’s Ineos Challenge.
Kamworor, champion in New York in 2017 stuck with the leading pack for most of the race and never pushed upfront until when it was just him and Korir up the field.
He kicked upfield at the 39km mark, showing off his superb endurance with Korir failing in his bid to catch up.
Kamworor all along the race tucked just within the leading pack and the pacemakers, choosing carefully when to make his move as he also weighed in on his opponent’s strength.
Kamworor, Korir and Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola had broken away from the leading pack at the 34km mark. Tola, who had looked comfortable throughout, quickly fell away however, leaving Kamworor and Korir to battle it out.
With two kilometres left and Korir seemingly struggling to keep up with the pace, Kamworor pounced and made his move and his compatriot could not respond to the injection in pace.
Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata set his stall out early, clocking a swift 5:02 uphill mile to start the race. A series of surges followed over the miles that followed, but none was decisive and a leading group of 18 athletes passed 10km in 30:32.
The first major casualty came after mile seven, when defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia stepped off the course, the race coming just 29 days after he took gold in the marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Kitata continued to inject surges and ran 30 to 40 metres ahead of the pack as he approached halfway, which was reached in 1:04:49.
But by then the pack had re-formed, with 14 athletes running together at the front. A strong move followed shortly before 15 miles from Australia’s Brett Robinson, who built a 10-second lead as the runners traversed the Queensboro Bridge.
As they approached Manhattan the pack reeled him in, and a dozen athletes ran up First Avenue together with all the major players keeping their powder dry for the final stages.
There were still 12 athletes in the lead pack as 30km was reached in 1:32:25. By 35km that pack was reduced to five: Kamworor, Kitata, Albert Korir, Girma Bekele Gebre and Tamirat Tola.
Tola dropped a 4:36 mile with five miles to run to make Kitata the first casualty in the group, and only with three miles to go did Kamworor first show his hand, his 4:40 mile over the rolling hills of Central Park pulling him six seconds clear with two miles to run.
He followed that up with a 4:31 mile and by then the damage was done, Kamworor well on his way to reclaiming the title he first won in 2017.
He hit the finish in 2:08:13, 23 seconds clear of Kenyan compatriot Korir, who in turn was two seconds clear of Gebre.
The third-placed finisher provided one of the upsets of the day given the Ethiopian has no agent or shoe sponsor and had lined up at a different start line to the elites after entering the event in the open category. Tola claimed fourth in 2:09:20 with Kitata taking fifth in 2:10:39.
“I was ready for anything,” said Kamroror. “The last few years the race went so fast and I just stuck with the others (this time) and at 24 miles I decided it was time to go. I was feeling strong and I had no problem throughout the race. It was a good one for me.”
-Additional reporting courtesy IAAF