Tamirat Tola sets NYC Marathon course record, wins men’s race; Hellen Obiri takes the women’s title

NEW YORK (AP) — Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia set a course record Sunday, winning the men’s race at the New York City Marathon, while Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters the women’s title.

Tola finished the race in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds, beating the time of 2:05.06 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. Tola pulled away from compatriot Jemal Yimer as the pair headed toward Bronx Manhattan at mile 20, a mile later he was 19 seconds ahead and chasing Mutai’s mark.

While the men’s race was already decided before the last few miles, the women’s race came down to the finish line. Obiri, Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia and Defending champion Sharon Lokedi everyone ran together and exchanged leadership. Obiri made a move as the trio walked the final half-mile back into Central Park, finishing in 2:27.23. Gidey finished second, 6 seconds behind.

Lokedi was 10 seconds behind Obiri, who won the Boston Marathon in April.

It was a stellar women’s field that was expected to potentially break Margaret Okayo’s 2003 course record of 2:22:31. Unlike last year, when the weather was unseasonably warm with temperatures in the 70s, Sunday’s race was much cooler – in the 50s – ideal conditions for record times.

Instead, the women fought a tactical race with eleven runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle in the lead group for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the group in points before falling back to finish eighth and ninth.

As the lead group returned to Manhattan for the final few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi set the pace.

As the trio entered Central Park, they further distanced themselves from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, who finished fourth.

The men’s and women’s winners were only a few minutes apart. About an hour earlier, Marcel Hug won the men’s wheelchair race, falling a few seconds short of his own course record with a time of 1:25.29. It was the Swiss star’s record-breaking sixth victory at the NYC Marathon.

“It’s unbelievable. I think it takes some time to realize what happened,” Hug said. “I’m so happy too.”

He is the event’s most decorated wheelchair racing champion, breaking Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley for the most wins in the division in the event’s history.

Catherine Debrunner of Switzerland won her debut in New York, breaking the course record in the women’s wheelchair race. She finished the race with a time of 1:39.32, beating the previous mark held by American Susannah Scaroni by more than three minutes.

“It’s difficult to describe it in words. I said to my coach if I win this race it will be the best performance I have ever done,” she said. “I knew it was the hardest marathon of all. It was the first time. I knew it was going to be so hard.”

Debrunner and Tola both received a $50,000 bonus for beating previous course records.

Brian Ashcraft

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