Five things we learnt from Boston: Obiri is the one to beat in Paris Olympics Marathon, Edna Kiplagat is ever green!...

Five things we learnt from Boston: Obiri is the one to beat in Paris Olympics Marathon, Edna Kiplagat is ever green!...

Mark Kinyanjui 11:00 - 17.04.2024

These are the five biggest biggest takeaways from Monday's Boston Marathon:

The 128th edition of the Boston Marathon proved to be a thrilling and memorable event, showcasing incredible performances and unforgettable moments. As the curtains close on this year's race, here are five key takeaways that stood out:

Hellen Obiri Emerges as Paris 2024 Favorite after Back-to-Back Boston Triumphs

Former middle-distance star, Hellen Obiri, has further solidified her stature as a top contender for the Paris Olympics by clinching consecutive victories at the prestigious Boston Marathon.

Obiri showcased her adaptability and resilience by conquering challenging, hilly courses without the aid of pace-setters. Her strategic race approach saw her stay within a tightly-knit pack of 18-20 women for the majority of the race, conserving energy for the crucial moments ahead.

It wasn't until Mile 24 (36 KM stretch)  that Obiri made her decisive move, clocking an impressive 4:41 split to break away alongside Sharon Lokedi. The duel between the two athletes intensified over the final two miles, but Obiri's two-time Olympic 5000m silver medalist pedigree shone through, enabling her to pull away and secure victory in a time of 2:22:37.

This triumph makes Obiri's case undeniable for Athletics Kenya's selection committee. With three consecutive World Major titles on challenging terrains under her belt, Obiri has proven her mettle. Her relentless pursuit of excellence and the vocal desire to claim an Olympic gold medal makes her a strong favorite for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

As the road to Paris unfolds, all eyes will be on Obiri as she seeks to translate her recent successes into Olympic glory.

Lokedi’s Olympic hopes will be decided in London

Sharon Lokedi's impressive performance at the Boston Marathon, where she secured a second-place finish behind Hellen Obiri with a personal best of 2:22:45, has put her Olympic aspirations in the spotlight.

With a personal best time that improved by nearly a full minute, Lokedi's determination and ability to perform on challenging courses without pacers have not gone unnoticed. Her debut win at the 2022 New York City Marathon and a strong third-place finish at the same event later in the year attest to her potential.

As the London Marathon approaches this Sunday, Lokedi will be eagerly watching the race unfold. The event boasts an impressive lineup, featuring former world record holder Brigid Kosgei, reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir, and 2022 Chicago Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, among others. It promises to be one of the deepest women's marathon fields in history.

For Lokedi, the stakes are high. With Olympic qualification hanging in the balance, a strong performance in London could solidify her spot on the Olympic team. After having to withdraw from the 2023 Boston Marathon due to injury, Lokedi's return to form and her continued resilience make her a strong contender for Olympic selection. All eyes will be on London as Lokedi aims to secure her place at the Paris Olympics.

Is Sisay Lemma finally capable of being fully  trusted to complete races?

Ethiopian long-distance runner, Sisay Lemma, showcased his ability to handle challenging conditions and competitors by securing a notable victory in the men's category at the Boston Marathon.

Lemma's journey to victory was not without its setbacks. He had previously faced challenges at the Boston Marathon, failing to finish both the 2017 and 2022 editions. His best performance prior to this year was a 30th-place finish in 2:22:08. Additionally, the 2021 Olympic Marathon in Sapporo saw Lemma as a Did Not Finish (DNF) due to the challenging hot conditions.

However, on Monday, Lemma demonstrated a remarkable turnaround in form. He made an assertive move around the 5K mark, surging to the front and creating a gap between him and the chasing pack. Clocking a swift 1:00:19 at the halfway mark, he outpaced notable records, including Kiptum's world record split and Mutai's course record split. At one point, Lemma held a lead of nearly three minutes.

Despite a challenging latter stage of the race, where he visibly struggled, Lemma managed to maintain his lead, crossing the finish line in 2:06:17. His strategy of a classic positive split, with a strong start followed by a slightly slower finish, proved effective in securing the win.

This victory, coupled with his impressive performances in Valencia and a previous London Marathon win in 2021, raises the question of his selection by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation for the Paris Olympics. Lemma's resilience and ability to compete at the highest level make him a compelling candidate for Olympic representation.

Evans Chebet's Olympic Dream Still Alive

Despite not being initially selected by Athletics Kenya for the men's marathon team, Evans Chebet's recent performance in the Boston Marathon has rekindled his hopes of making it to the Paris Olympics.

Chebet's exclusion from the team was partly attributed to concerns over an Achilles injury that sidelined him during his title defense in New York last year according to Citius Mag. However, his determination was evident as he aimed for a historic third consecutive Boston Marathon win, a feat achieved last by Robert Cheruiyot between 2006 and 2008.

Finishing third with a time of 2:07:22, Chebet demonstrated his consistency and strength as a marathoner. Since 2018, he has consistently finished within the top four in major marathons, with his only exception being the recent Boston Marathon. Across 16 races since 2014, Chebet has always been a force to reckon with.

Athletics Kenya's policy of avoiding multiple athletes from the same training group presents a challenge for Chebet, especially with Benson Kipruto's strong performance in the Tokyo Marathon. Kipruto's potential inclusion could jeopardize Chebet's chances, despite his impressive track record.

Edna Kiplagat aging like fine wine

At 44 years old, Kenyan long-distance runner Edna Kiplagat continues to defy age and expectations, showcasing a remarkable performance at the Boston Marathon. She secured her 14th podium finish at a World Marathon Major or World Championships with a third-place finish, clocking in at 2:23:21.

This recent achievement not only marks her impressive consistency but also stands as the seventh-fastest performance in her illustrious career and her best since 2018. Kiplagat's resilience and experience have been her guiding forces, allowing her to outmaneuver competitors in the critical final miles of races.

Looking back at her recent track record, Kiplagat has been a dominant force at major marathons. Aside from a rare setback with a 30th-place finish at Boston in 2023, her performances have been consistently strong.

She clinched the first position at Boston in 2021, followed by fourth-place finishes at both Boston and the New York City Marathon in 2022. In 2023, she secured a seventh-place finish at NYC Marathon before returning to the podium with a third-place finish at Boston in 2024.