Kenya's Cherono wins men's Boston Marathon in sprint to tape

BOSTON (AP) — Two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa turned onto Boylston Street with a sliver of a lead, leaning in front of two other runners with the finish line in sight.

Unfortunately for him, one of them was the fastest man in the field.

Lawrence Cherono needed every bit of his speed to outkick Desisa in a sprint to the tape on Monday, passing him just steps away from the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes 57 seconds.

Desisa, who won in 2015 and 2013, the year the race was overshadowed by a bombing at the finish line, eased up after realizing he was beaten and finished 2 seconds back. Kenneth Kipkemoi was third, another 8 seconds behind, one of seven Kenyans in the top 10.

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"It was no man's race to win," said Cherono, who had won in Seville, Prague, Honolulu and twice in Amsterdam but never in a major marathon before. "I kept on focusing. And at the end, I was the winner. I'm so grateful, so happy."

Worknesh Degefa broke away from defending champion Des Linden and the rest of the women's pack in the Framingham flats and ran alone for the last 20 miles to claim the $150,000 first prize and a gilded olive wreath from Marathon, Greece.

The 28-year-old Ethiopian, who set a national record while finishing second in Dubai less than three months ago, won in 2:23:31. Kenya's Edna Kiplagat was second, reducing a gap of more than two minutes to 42 seconds at the finish.

American Jordan Hasay was third and Linden was fifth.

"Seeing Degefa go out — you know her ability, you know what she's done and you wonder how it translates to this course," Linden said. "But when she starts putting down those super quick miles, you say 'All right, this is her race to lose.' She becomes the outlier and you let her just go and hope that she might come back."

She didn't.

Instead, she became the eighth Ethiopian woman to win the race and the third in seven years. A half marathon specialist, Degefa had never seen the Boston course before Monday.

"Last year, I watched all the marathon coverage," she said. "I kept that in my mind."

See photos from the 2019 race: 

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Scenes from the 2019 Boston Marathon
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Scenes from the 2019 Boston Marathon
Men's winner Lawrence Cherono of Kenya crosses the finish line ahead of Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia during the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon on the sixth anniversary of the 2013 Boston marathon bombings in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. April 15th, 2019. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kenyan Lawrence Cherono edges Ethopian Lelisa Desisa for first place for the Men's Elite race, at the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. - Kenya's Lawrence Cherono sprinted to victory in the Boston Marathon on Monday, overhauling Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa in the final few metres of the gruelling race to claim a thrilling win. In damp, chilly conditions, Cherono, Desisa and Kenya's Kenneth Kipkemoi broke away from the field over the final few miles as the world's oldest major marathon reached a dramatic conclusion. Desisa, the 2013 World Champion and two-time Boston Marathon champion, looked to be on course for victory as he kicked for home in the final 200m.But with the crowds at Boston's famous Boylston Street finish line roaring them on, it was Cherono who timed his finish to perfection, overhauling the grimacing Desisa just a few metres from the tape to claim a magnificent win in 2hr 7min 57 sec. (Photo by RYAN MCBRIDE / AFP) (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, kisses the ground after winning the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, holds the trophy after winning the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Worknesh Degefa, left, of Ethiopia, winner of the women's division, and Lawrence Cherono, right, of Kenya, winner of the men's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon, hold the trophy at the finish line on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A runner tries to keep dry before the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kenneth Kipkemoi, left, of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa, center, of Ethiopia, and Lawrence Cherono, right, of Kenya, compete in the final mile of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, of Charlotte, N.C., finishes the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, left, of Charlotte, shakes hands with grand marshall Meb Keflezighi, of San Diego, after finishing the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Fans cheer on the third wave of runners at the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, runs to the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
A Boston police officer stands with others near a memorial to the 2013 bombing near the finish line, during a moment of silence at the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Richard Reinhardt, left, of Columbia, Md., Nicholas Haddow, second from left, of Calgary, Canada, and Brian Prendergast, right, of Brick, N.J., help Matthew Harpin, of Marietta, Ga., as they approach the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Runners race to the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Athletic Association Chief Executive Officer Tom Grilk, left, embraces Joan Benoit Samuelson, first women's Olympics marathon winner, after finishing the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Judd Lorson, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., carries his 10-month-old son Logan across the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Hiroto Inoue, left, of Japan, and Elkanah Kibet, of Fountain, Colo., head to the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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One year after an icy rain and a near-gale headwind resulted in the slowest winning times in four decades, race organizers again prepared for the foul New England weather. But overnight thunderstorms moved on before the runners left Hopkinton; the sun even made an appearance about halfway through.

Linden took advantage of last year's storm to splash her way to the first win for an American woman since 1985.

But with conditions back to normal, so were the results: East Africans from Kenya and Ethiopia dominating the podiums. At the 30K mark the lead pack was still close to a dozen and included three of the last four champions: Desisa, 2016 winner Geoffrey Kirui and '17 champ Lemi Berhanu Hayle.

"I was afraid of the guy who won two years ago. After he dropped out, I decided to win," said Desisa, who did not finish in either of the last two years. "I tried at the last, I saw (Cherono) suddenly, then I couldn't control the pace."

A field of 30,000 runners followed the elites, ditching their trash bags and ponchos on the Hopkinton Green before embarking on the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square. It's the first time the race has been run on April 15 since the 2013 attacks; officials held a ceremony at 2:49 p.m. to honor those killed and maimed by the two pressure cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line.

Daniel Romanchuk, 20, became the youngest-ever men's wheelchair champion in Boston, finishing in 1:21:36 for the fastest time ever for an American. Manuela Schar won the women's wheelchair race for the second time, adding it to her titles in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo.

If she wins in London in two weeks, she will have swept the World Marathon Major series.

"I was just really happy that the weather turned out to be actually really nice," said Schar, who set a course record in 2017. "When we drove to that starting line, it looked really really bad and I was worried because last year was still in our heads, and I had a really bad experience last year. Today I would say (was) unfinished business."

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Associated Press Writer Jennifer McDermott contributed to this story from Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

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