Peres Jepchirchir celebrated the 50th anniversary of the women’s division of the Boston Marathon by winning a seesaw sprint on Boylston Street on Monday, as the race returned to its traditional place on the Patriots’ Day schedule for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The reigning Olympic champion and Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia walked shoulder to shoulder for most of the distance, swapping places eight times in the last mile, with Jepchirchir finally taking the lead in the final 385 metres. The Kenyan finished 2 hours, 21 minutes, 1 second and four seconds ahead.
Kenya’s Evans Chebet pulled away with about four miles to go to win the men’s race in 2:06:51, 30 seconds ahead of Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay. Defending champion Benson Kipruto was third.
American Daniel Romanchuk won his second wheelchair title of his career in 1:26:58. Switzerland’s Manuela Schar won her second consecutive Boston crown and fourth overall with a time of 1:41:08.
More than 28,000 runners who shared a weekend of the Red Sox Home Opener — the city’s other sporting spring rite — returned six months after a smaller and socially distanced event that was the only fall race in its 126th year history.
Fans waved Ukrainian flags in support of the few dozen runners, whose 26.2-mile run from Hopkinton to Copley Square was the easiest part of their journey. Athletes from Russia and Belarus were unloaded in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainians who didn’t make it to Boston were offered a reprieve or a refund.
“Whatever they want to do, they can do,” said Tom Grilk, president of the Boston Athletic Association. “Run this year, run next year. You want a puppy? However. There is no group we would like to be more helpful to.”
The 125th race was first postponed, then canceled because of the pandemic – the first cancellation since the event began in 1897. In 2021 it was postponed as to October.
This year’s race marked the 50th anniversary of Nina Kuscsik’s victory as the first official women’s winner. (The actual first woman to finish the race was Bobbi Gibb, who first ran among the unofficial runners known as Bandits in 1966.)
Valerie Rogosheske, who finished sixth in 1972, said she planned to hide in the bushes and run as a bandit before the women got the green light a few weeks before the race. She is competing with her daughters this year and was an honorary starter for the women’s elite field.
“There was just this feeling, ‘Boy, we’re going to make this. Nobody can get off. There are eyes on us,” she said on Monday at the starting line. “A lot of people didn’t think we should run a marathon. So we really felt that pressure, but also the opportunity to finish this marathon.”