At 23 miles, the women’s marathon was still anyone’s race, with five runners jockeying for position in the final stretch. They were so close that Ababel Yeshane fell at the feet of another runner.
Helen Opiri, a 33-year-old Kenyan, led the group. She briefly fell behind in the points but eventually held off the group to win the women’s race in 2 hours 21 minutes and 38 seconds.
Competing in his second marathon, Obiri showed his speed with half a mile left in the race, pumping his arms hard and leaving the rest of the group behind him. Opry finished sixth in last year’s New York City Marathon, his only race at this distance. He won the New York City Half Marathon on March 19.
After that race, Opiri moved to Boulder, Colo., to train with her husband, Tom Nyundi, and their 7-year-old daughter, Tania. Obiri said he was excited about racing in Boston, not sure how he would fit in with the talented field.
“It’s a surprise for me,” Obiri said with a smile as her daughter stood beside her. Obiri says her daughter encourages her, “Can’t you be number one?” He said that he often provoked her with such questions.
“So I try to cheer them up,” Obiri said, “because sometimes I don’t want to go, but something tells you to keep trying to fight. So I kept fighting.
Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso finished second and Israel’s Lona Salpeter third.
Yeshane, who finished second in the event last year, recovered from his fall and looked like he might win by a few minutes, but eventually finished fourth.
American Emma Bates, who was part of the group at mile 23, was unable to maintain the pace at the end of the race, finishing fifth.