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Boston Marathon Course section


Kimutai got over the hump

By Frank Dell'Apa, Globe Staff, 4/22/2003


Road rave
Zakharova takes women's title
Boston street smarts
Kimutai got over the hump
Runyan fifth after battle
Denisova knew her place: 2d
Hellebuyck leads the way
Ripp, Van Dyk: Spin control
Russian contingent was rushin'
Wellesley voices carry
Heart, sole are put to the test
Hopkinton's just the beginning
Pushing the human body
Up-close view for this father
Girl OK after wheelchair collision
In the running

R. Cheruiyot 2:10:11
Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai 2:10:34
Martin Lel 2:11:11
Timothy Cherigat 2:11:28
Christopher Cheboiboch 2:12:45
Fedor V. Ryzhov 2:15:29
Rodgers Rop 2:16:14
David Kiptum Busienei 2:16:16
Elly K. Rono 2:17:00
Eddy Hellebuyck 2:17:18
| Men's Top 25 |

Svetlana Zakharova 2:25:20
Lyubov Denisova 2:26:51
Joyce Chepchumba 2:27:20
Margaret Okaya 2:27:39
Marla Runyan 2:30:28
Albina Ivanova 2:30:57
Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova 2:31:30
Milena Glusac 2:37:32
Jill Gaitenby 2:38:19
Esther Kiplagat 2:38:43
| Women's Top 25 |

Ernst F. Van Dyk1:28:32
Krige Schabort1:30:07
Kelly Smith 1:30:52
| Complete list (men & women) |

Christina Ripp1:54:47
Cheri A. Blauwet1:54:57
Edith Hunkeler1:56:54
| Complete list (men & women) |

Search BAA database of all finishers

It only seems as if most East Africans feel at home with the Boston Marathon course. The fact is, some of their elite runners are much less familiar with it than the average West Newtonian.

Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai knew much more about downtown Nairobi than he did about Newbury Street until three days before yesterday's race, when he and his Kenyan teammates took a tour of the route with local coach Bill Squires.

They received a crash course on past marathons, and, knowing Squires, they also received perspectives on every marathon-related activity from the Persians and Spartans, to the Camp Devens Divisional Team of 1918, and Ibrahim Hussein, Boston's first Kenyan winner. And they received fair warning about the cow pasture origins of Massachusetts's road system, plus the impetuous nature of the state's pavement and weather patterns.

Kimutai appears to have taken good notes.

''There is a lot of history, and Boston is very hard, they put that in my mind,'' Kimutai said after finishing second in 2:10:34, 23 seconds behind Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. ''On the tour, they kept saying, `Here it is tough' and `Here it is tough.' Man! `And, here it is tough.' Then, they said, `Halfway is where it is decided.' They said, `It's tough going downhill and it's tough going uphill.' Heartbreak Hill. From 25 kilometers to the final, you have many people try to break away. So, make sure you have enough gasoline.''

Kimutai had enough petrol for an efficient finish. But he was far behind Cheruiyot (the margin of victory made this the 27th-closest finish in Boston history). Though the pace was relatively slow, Kimutai's time was the 71st-best in Boston Marathon history, surpassing Hussein's winning time in 1991 and equaling Lameck Aguta's in '97.

Indeed, the records were safe almost from the beginning, judging by Kimutai's point of reference -- American master Eddy Hellebuyck.

''It wasn't fast at the beginning,'' Kimutai said. ''I knew it wasn't fast because everyone was there. Eddy was still with me, and if Eddy was there, I knew it was a slow time.''

If Kimutai were not so obviously realistic, he could be accused of gloating in the dominance of his countrymen over their hosts. But it is difficult to be gracious without seeming patronizing in such situations. Ethiopians and Kenyans have won 13 of the last 15 Boston Marathons, and their closest pursuers have almost always been other East Africans.

The most consistent Boston Marathon runner-up has been Juma Ikangaa, who finished second to Hussein in 1988, Abebe Mekonnen in '89, and Gelindo Bordin in '90.

Kenyans collected much of the $525,000 total purse yesterday, and there is no telling how far Kimutai's $40,000 take will go in Eldoret, where he has established a massage therapy clinic for athletes who train in the high-altitude camps. In fact, Kimutai was giving many more massages than he was receiving after retiring from road racing and track competitions in the late '90s. He returned to the track in 2001 in Holland, then made a spectacular marathon debut last year in Amsterdam, winning in 2:07:26.

This has been a remarkable return to racing for Kimutai, though he noted he is younger than the Jan. 1, 1971, birthdate listed on his passport indicates. It should read Sept. 15, 1971. Kimutai was listed as 32 years old for this race and he will remain that age should he return next year.

But even if the months will not be chalked up on Kimutai's entry form, he will not likely forget the difficulty of the course.

''After 24 miles, I had nothing to offer,'' Kimutai said. ''I just said, `Let me remain in position and keep going. Let me keep my distance.' ''

This story ran on page C2 of the Boston Globe on 4/22/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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