Ndereba can stand heat, wins 3rd title

Cherigat is top man

Temperatures hit mid-80s

Ruxton's DiPietro places 20th among women

Boston Marathon

April 20, 2004|By Lori Riley | Lori Riley,THE HARTFORD COURANT

BOSTON - In 2000, the year she won the Boston Marathon for the first time, Catherine Ndereba was a questionable omission from the Kenyan Olympic team.

Four years later, there is no question. At the Athens Olympics in August, she will represent Kenya for the first time.

Yesterday, Ndereba cemented her status as one of the greatest women's marathoners by winning the Boston Marathon for the third time, the fourth woman to do so. She pulled away from Ethiopian Elfenesh Alemu with a little more than a mile to go in the 26.2-mile race on an oppressively hot day to finish in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 27 seconds. Alemu finished 16 seconds behind her, and Olivera Jevtic of Yugoslavia was third in 2:27:34.

The 85-degree weather meant the marathoners had to run a smart, tactical race, which Kenya's Timothy Cherigat proved to be the best at on the men's side. Cherigat, 27, broke away from a pack of three others on the hills and won Boston for the first time in 2:10:37. Robert Cheboror of Kenya, in his Boston debut, was second (2:11:49) and Martin Lel of Kenya, third (2:13:38).

"The weather was not all that good today," Cherigat said. "It slowed us down a lot. I kept pouring water on my head."

Ruxton's Lee DiPietro was 20th among women - the fifth-fastest U.S. woman - and finished in 2:58:59.

The elite women started at 11:31 a.m., 29 minutes before the main field, for the first time in the race's history. Ndereba was the first runner across the finish line and had the 11th fastest women's time in Boston history. She appeared woozy after crossing the line, then went down on her hands and knees to try to ease the cramps in her calf muscles.

"We were kind of fighting the weather," Ndereba said. "Toward the finish, I felt like I was dead."

There were 16,793 official finishers. The weather took its toll on the middle-of-the-pack runners: 671 required medical attention and 136 were transported to local hospitals. Last year, 52 runners were taken to hospitals.

Kenyans Rodgers Rop, the 2002 winner, and Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, last year's winner, dropped out late in the race.

Ernst Van Dyk was one of the few not bothered by the weather. Van Dyk, 31, of South Africa, set a course record (1:18:27) in the men's wheelchair race. It was Van Dyk's fourth consecutive victory at Boston, tying Franz Nietlispach's record of four in a row in 1997-2000.

"The heat didn't affect me because I am from South Africa," Van Dyk said. "It was cool on the downhills."

Cheri Blauwet, 23, of Menlo Park, Calif., won the women's wheelchair division in 1:39:53.

Since her first victory at Boston in 2000, Ndereba has become one of the world's most respected marathoners. She out-dueled Roba, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, to become the first Kenyan woman to win at Boston. She won the next year, too, and finished with the second-fastest women's time (2:21:12) in the history of the race in 2002, behind record-setting Margaret Okayo.

She became the second woman in the world to run under 2:20 and won the '03 marathon world championship.

Yesterday Alemu went out faster than Ndereba and took the lead in the fourth mile. Ndereba caught her at Mile 16. They ran together for the next nine miles before Ndereba pulled away.

"At about 38 to 39 kilometers [around Mile 24], the pain was getting intense," Alemu said through an interpreter. "I tried my best to hold on, but I couldn't."

Alemu and Ndereba will meet again in the Olympics.

"This is kind of like the heat and terrain in Athens," Alemu said. "It gives me a clue how I can run there."

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Leaders

Men

1. Timothy Cherigat, Kenya, 2:10:37 2. Robert Cheboror, Kenya, 2:11:49 3. Martin Lel, Kenya, 2:13:38 4. Stephen Kiogora, Kenya, 2:14:34 5. Hailu Negussie, Ethiopia, 2:17:30 6. Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai, Kenya, 2:17:45 7. Joshua Kipkemboi, Kenya, 2:18:23 8. Andrew Letherby, Australia, 2:19:31 9. Fedor V. Ryzhov, Russia, 2:21:24 10. Elly Rono, Kenya, 2:22:45 11. Alexander S. Prokopchuk, Latvia, 2:23:48 12. Wilson Komen, Kenya, 2:24:06 13. Christopher Zieman, Felton, Calif., 2:25:45 14. Salvatore Bettiol, Italy, 2:26:15 15. Kentarou Suzuki, Japan, 2:27:15 16. Dawit Trfe, Ethiopia, 2:27:54. 17. Eric M. Post, Fairfax, Va., 2:29:13. 18. Mario Fattore, Italy, 2:29:17. 19. Michael R. Wardian, Arlington, Va., 2:29:57. 20. John Mentzer, Newport, R.I., 2:30:50. 21. Laban Kipkemboi, Kenya, 2:31:17. 22. Eddie Ernest-Jones, C. Springs, Fla., 2:31:53. 23. John A. Mirth, Platteville, Wis., 2:32:32. 24. Henry Wanyoike, Chelsea, Mass., 2:33:20. 25. Hiroaki Takeda, Japan, 2:33:22.

Women

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