Ndeti rules Boston again in record time

April 19, 1994|By Josie Karp | Josie Karp,Special to The Sun

BOSTON -- Cosmas Ndeti set the record straight and then went out and set the record. Last year, no one knew the Kenyan runner's name. No one could spell it, either, when he captured his first Boston Marathon. N'Deti? N'deti?

Neither of the above. It is Ndeti, as in Cosmas Ndeti, 24, two-time Boston Marathon champion, Boston Marathon course-record holder and owner of the fifth-fastest marathon time in history.

Ndeti took the lead at the 22-mile mark and held on to outlast surging Andres Espinosa from Mexico to win in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 15 seconds, which is 36 seconds faster than anyone had completed the 26-mile, 385-yard course. Espinosa crossed the finish line four seconds later. Both men broke the course record Rob de Castella set in 1986.

"I was more experienced than last year," said Ndeti. "Last year was like a miracle to me. This year, I tried to hang on with the fast guys until the end, when everyone has to fight for himself."

German Uta Pippig started blowing kisses to the crowd lining the course at the 23-mile mark, so sure was she of her impending victory. "I was so emotional," said Pippig. "I thought, 'Oh, my dear, you can win.' It's crazy."

Pippig crossed the finish line in 2:21:45, breaking the course record for women set by Joan Benoit in 1983.

The ebullient 28-year-old shrugs off her past life in East Germany with a laugh, "That's in the past." She laughs about the fact that German unification will cause her to repeat the three years of medical school she has mastered because the credits cannot be transferred.

Pippig smiles and laughs so much that it is hard to imagine her crying, but she said that on Friday night she was indeed in tears. Pippig arrived in Boston last Tuesday, just in time to greet a rainy spring day and contract a cold. It did not slow her down.

Once they got going, there was not much to slow any of the leaders yesterday. Just ask American Bob Kempainen.

"If someone had told me before today I was going to run under 2:09, I would have thought that I had won the race," said Kempainen, who finished seventh in setting an American record at 2:08:47.

The conditions were prime for record-setting. The men's and women's fields were the strongest in recent Boston history. Weather conditions were perfect, with temperatures in the mid-50s and a tail wind.

The men started slowly, though. Keith Brantly of Florida held the lead until the 15-mile mark. Four miles later, Tanzanian Boay Akonay had the lead until Ndeti put on a surge. For the second year in a row, Ndeti ran negative splits to win the laurel wreath and the prize money that goes along with first place and a course record.

Ndeti seemed unfazed that those in the know were not picking him to repeat as Boston champion. He said he did not care that some people faulted him for bringing his family to Boston.

"After winning, I trained harder this year," said Ndeti. "This means more to me because I set the course record." He also beat the Kenyan record, set by Ibrahim Hussein when he won Boston two years ago. "That means a lot to me, because it is Hussein's record I broke."

Last year, Ndeti missed the birth of his first son, which occurred the day before he won Boston. This year, he held his son in his arms right after crossing the finish line. For the record, you spell his son's middle name B-O-S-T-O-N.

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