Kenya’s Lawrence Chereno was victorious at Monday’s Boston Marathon after winning a sprint duel with two-time Hub winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia on the stretch run, clocking a staggering 2:07:57, with Desisa two seconds back.
It was a three-horse race thriller in the last two kilometres with Chereno, 30, compatriot Kenneth Kipkemoi and Desisa all teasing each other.
However, it was Chereno, who had the last laugh beating Desisa with five metres to go in one of the more dramatic finishes we have seen in recent marathon history.
It was a gutsy finish by Chereno, who had to be helped by two race officials as he stepped gingerly to the podium for the post-race ceremony.
Desisa, who won the race in 2013 and 2015 admitted that he believed it was his race to win when he spoke to the media post-race.
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“In the race, I am afraid of the guy (Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui) who won two years ago, after he dropped off, I decided to go for it,” said Desisa, per the Boston Herald.
“After 40K, I decided to sprint, but I fell back at the last metres and saw Chereno suddenly leading. Then, I can’t control the pace in my mind. Because of that, I am No. 2.”
Watch the tense finish below:
This year’s finish tied for the third-closest time between the top two men in race history, matching the 1978 (Bill Rodgers and Jeff Wells) and 1982 ‘Duel in the Sun’ (Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley) events.
The win gained Chereno, the traditional laurel wreath, plus a first-place prize of $150,000.
The elated Kenyan spoke to the media after the race and explained he did not expect to win due to his poor finishing in prior races.
“My race was so fantastic, it was amazing because we really didn’t start until 30K. We kept the pace until we started to break the group."
“We went that way until 38-40K and we were two or three people,” said Chereno.
“Personally I am not very good at finishing, so I was surprised. But today I did a fantastic job, it was nice for me.”
With 67-degree temperatures and steady rain before the start of the race, conditions were less than ideal for the athletes, but both Chereno and Desisa thrilled the huge crowds in Boston with one of the most historic finishes in race history.