By its own gentle admission the Boston Marathon had been calling out now for over 900 days already and the 125th running of the event on Monday finished in familiar style even if in the unfamiliar autumn setting.
Kenya's Benson Kipruto took the win after a surging burst for the line not long after 20 miles, his first major city marathon win after previously proving his potential with wins in Prague and Toronto.
Irish interest in the event was maintained by Stephen Scullion – Boston being last won by an Irish runner, famously, by Neil Cusack in 1974. After dropping out of the Tokyo Olympic marathon, Scullion toed the start line determined to be competitive and for long stages he was, before he finished 32nd best of the elite field in two hours, 22 minutes and 57 seconds, and effort which he later admitted "really hurt".
The 32-year-old from Belfast was within half a minute of the leaders until halfway, before dropping back. Scullion was the fastest of the three Irish men qualified for the Tokyo marathon, thanks to the 2:09.49 he clocked at the elite-only London Marathon in October 2020, over two minutes faster than his previous best, which on that occasion left him 11th best in a field of the world’s finest marathon runners.
“That one really, really hurt,” Scullion commented after his Boston finish. “Should probably train for the hills like . . . I was grinding from early on. But owed it to myself and everybody who believes in me to tough it out. I might not have found the speed I wanted, but my heart is back. I’m in tears of joy.”
Scullion’s 2:09.49 stands as the fastest official Irish marathon; John Treacy’s Irish marathon best is still considered the 2:09.15 he ran when finishing third in Boston in 1988, although for record purposes Boston is considered a slightly downhill course.
The American CJ Albertson caused a mild stir when he opened a big lead ahead of the main pack, by as much as two minutes 13 seconds by the halfway mark. Eventually the 15-strong pack that caught him and included Kipruto, Filex Kiprotich, Wilson Chebet and Asefa Mengstu.
Kipruto’s big surge came on 22 miles and with that he opened a winning lead, seized the lead, Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu taking second 46 seconds behind Kipruto and just a second ahead of his countryman Jemal Yimer.
Also from Kenya, Diana Kipyogei won the women's race, at 27 also making her first mark on the major stage after her previous biggest victory at the Istanbul Marathon.
After 18 miles in, Kipyogei surged in front, Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia, a former world cross-country champion, giving chase initially. Then came the veteran Edna Kiplagat of Kenya a two-time world champion as well as a New York and Boston winner, who soon caught Gudeta and gave chase to Kipyogei, only to end up second.
Kipyogei took the win in 2 hours 24 minutes 45 seconds, with Kiplagat, now aged 41, finishing second in 2:25.09:.Kenyans took the top four spots, with Mary Ngugi third and Monicah Ngige fourth. Nell Rojas was the top American in sixth.