There were 60,000 water bottles and 40,000 bananas for the more than 50,000 people who would run through all five boroughs of New York City on Sunday morning during the 47th NYC Marathon. The atmosphere was electric as fans prepared to watch competitors from four different races compete.
One of the reasons fans were so excited was that American Meb Keflezighi was competing in his 26th and final marathon. He dressed well for the occasion, with florescent-orange shorts and a white hat (which became a souvenir before the end of the race).
A few hours later, the reason for the roars was that Shalane Flanagan, by far the strongest runner during the women’s race, had become the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon (2:26:53) since Miki Gorman did it in 1977. Flanagan, who cried as she crossed the finish line, had taken a bit of a break from workouts and extra events this year, which she says helped her fatigue. Saying she was proud to “run in the Meb Era,” she said she wanted to “do it for Meb and make Meb proud.” She was thrilled to win on the same day as his last race. Afterward, she said she was also motivated to help New York recover from the recent attack in lower Manhattan.
Flanagan outlasted second-place finisher Mary Keitany of Kenya, who was looking for her fourth consecutive win in the NYC Marathon, beating her by more than a minute. Keitany said that she was “happy with her status” and that “sometimes you can lose, and it is part of life.”
Flanagan’s victory lap was a special moment, as she was clearly stunned by her win. Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia finished third with a time of 2:28:08. Four American women, Flanagan, Allie Kieffer (fifth), Kellyn Taylor (eighth), and Stephanie Bruce (10th), all finished in the top 10.
The conditions weren’t great early this morning, with tough winds and some light rain. Brian Siemann, the top American finisher in the men’s wheelchair race (12th), said, “It was a headwind for most of the race… the weather is always constantly changing; you know, it seems like it’s starting to sprinkle now, so it’s just something you have to adjust to.”
Siemann’s division was the first to finish on Sunday. As the athletes passed the finish line and received their medals, the wheelchair racers were overcome with emotion. Marcel Hug of Switzerland won for the second consecutive year, increasing his huge lead in the Wheelchair Series XI. Said Hug of winning by more than two minutes, “This course is always tough, but it was nice to break away and finish alone.”
Next it was the women’s wheelchair division, in which another Switzerland native, Manuela Schar, stopped American Tatyana McFadden from winning her sixth NYC Marathon. McFadden was still excited with her result, especially after suffering from blood clots earlier this year. Calling today’s race the “toughest of her life,” Schar said she was surprised to come up with a victory today on “Tatyana McFadden’s course.”
All the wheelchair racers seemed to agree with other runners that the NYC Marathon is one of, if not the, toughest course to race. Some wheelchair racers crashed and many were shaking by the end of the race. It was the first time in the history of the division that two people from the same country won both races.
The men’s race had an emphatic ending as Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya crossed first with a time of 2:10:53. Kamworor just barely outlasted his countryman, 2014 champion Wilson Kipsang, who finished in 2:10:56. Kipsang said if he had a little bit more space he could have passed Kamworor and finished first. Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia finished third in 2:11:32.
Keflezighi finished 11th and will retire as the only man to win the NYC Marathon, Boston Marathon, and an Olympic gold medal. He waved goodbye to fans and blew them kisses and held back tears before collapsing after crossing the finish line in 2:15:29. With three men in the top 11, Abdi Abdirahman (seventh), Shadrack Biwott (10th) and Keflezighi, the U.S. was well represented at the NYC Marathon.
Photographs by: Elsa/Getty Images (Flanagan, women's wheelchair finishers); Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images (women's race); Henry Mode (Keflezighi)