With fall foliage replacing the blooming daffodils and mylar blankets sharing space with masks, the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon returned Monday after a 30-month absence for a smaller, socially distanced race that ended in a very familiar way. Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei completed a Kenyan sweep—the eighth since 2000 at the world's oldest and most prestigious 26.2-miler, which was moved from its traditional spring date for the first time in its 125-year history, the AP reports.
"We were injured, wounded. Now is the comeback story,” said 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi, one of the past champions sharing grand marshal duties with hospital employees who worked through the pandemic. "Hopefully this is an example that post-pandemic, life is getting back to normal." Although organizers put runners through COVID-19 protocols and asked spectators to keep their distance, there were still sizable crowds in spots from Hopkinton to Boston after an early drizzle cleared and temperatures rose into the 60s. Participants in the field of 18,000—down from more than 30,000 in pre-pandemic days—needed to test negative for the coronavirus or prove they were vaccinated before picking up their bib numbers.
The race also began earlier and with a rolling send-off to avoid the usual crowding in the starting corrals and on the course. None of the changes proved a problem for the Kenyans. A winner in Prague and Athens who finished 10th in Boston in 2019, Kipruto broke away from the lead pack as it turned onto Beacon Street with about three miles to go and broke the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds. Lemi Berhanu, who won the race in 2016, was second, 46 seconds back; Colin Bennie of Princeton, Massachusetts, was the top American, in seventh. Kipyogei claimed the women's title, finishing in 2:24:45 in her major marathon debut. Edna Kipligat, the 2017 winner, was second, 23 seconds behind.
The race was first held after a group of Bostonians returned from the 1896 Athens Olympics and decided to stage a marathon of their own. Since then, the race has persisted through World Wars and even the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. But it was first postponed, then canceled last year, then postponed again earlier this year. This was the first time the event hasn't been held in April as part of the Patriots' Day holiday that commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War. To recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, race organizers honored 1936 and '39 winner Ellison "Tarzan" Brown and three-time runner-up Patti Catalano Dillon, a member of the Mi’kmaq tribe.
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