Fionnuala McCormack finishes 11th in Boston Marathon
Irish runner just misses out on earning a slot at next year’s Tokyo Olympics
Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa crosses the finish line to win the women’s race at the Boston Marathon. Photograph: Herb Swanson/EPA
Fionnuala McCormack produced another stellar run to finish 11th best woman overall in the famed Boston Marathon, running a new lifetime best of 2:30.38 – and falling just short of an automatic qualifying spot for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
In only her second major race since giving birth to daughter Isla last October, McCormack improved on her previous marathon best of 2:31.22 she ran to finish 20th in the Rio Olympics in 2016, also her last run over the 26.2-mile distance. Closing all the time on the lead group of runners ahead of her, McCormack finished just six seconds behind 10th-place finisher, Kenyan Betsy Saina.
Boston is designated one of the five marathon majors, where a top-10 finish also ensures qualification for Tokyo; although falling just short of that qualifying criteria, McCormack will still earn significant ranking points set to put in the mix for Tokyo next summer. The Tokyo official qualifying time is 2:29.30.
Victory went to the Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa, who was rewarded for her brave front-running tactics with the win in 2:23.31, and the top prize of $150,000, with the veteran Kenya Edna Kiplagat, now aged 39, second in 2:24.13. Defending champion Desiree Linden from the US was fifth in 2:27.00
The men’s elite race produced one of the closest finishes in Boston history, Lawrence Cherono of Kenya snatching the win in the final few strides from Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, who had made the initial dash for home, Cherono clicking 2:07.57 to Desisa’s 2:07.59.
At age 34, McCormack will take plenty of encouragement from her performance in the build-up to Tokyo, coming just two weeks after her 18th place finish in the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark – winning her 37th Irish senior international cap there to extend her record in athletics for an Irish woman.