NEW YORK (AP) — Wilson Kipsang, a former world-record holder, needed to force himself to slow down.
The Kenyan star had entered his first New York City Marathon to challenge himself on a hilly course with no pacemaker. A windy morning made for quite the test Sunday, and Kipsang proved he can win a strategic race.
“I had to really exercise a lot of patience,” he said.
Kipsang pulled away in the final mile for his third major marathon title in just over 13 months. Mary Keitany also took the lead late in the women’s race for a Kenyan sweep.
Kipsang’s record-setting victories in Berlin and London were on flat courses with the aid of a pacemaker, very different from Sunday, when winds were gusting at more than 30 mph at the start. The contenders adjusted by cautiously sticking to a slow pace.
“It was very tactical,” Kipsang said. “So it was not easy.”
He finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 59 seconds — the slowest winning time in New York since 1995, and more than 7 1/2 minutes off the world record he set just over a year ago in Berlin.
Keitany tried a very different tactic in her previous NYC Marathon, surging ahead to a huge early lead in 2011. She was caught that day and had to settle for her second straight third-place finish.
This time, Keitany held back. She and countrywoman Jemima Sumgong entered Central Park side by side, and Sumgong appeared to be pulling away with just over a mile left.
But Keitany had one last burst left and won by 3 seconds, matching the tightest finish in the history of the women’s race. Keitany, a two-time London Marathon champ, hadn’t run a 26.2-mile race since 2012 because of the birth of her second child.