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Mutai wins men's race in record time

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  April 18, 2011 12:01 PM

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mutai_trophy.jpg Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai admitted that he thought he could win the 115th Boston Marathon today even though it was his race debut. But the all-time fastest marathon time in any conditions? Turns out that was just a bonus that came along with his fulfilled goal.

Mutai won the Boston Marathon in an official record time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds today, breaking the previous Boston record set last year by countryman Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (2:05::52) by more than two minutes.

While Mutai's time bested the world record, it will not be recognized as such internationally because of today's strong tail winds on a course that has frequent downhills. The world record, 2:03:59, was set by Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin in 2008.

"I was not having ideas about the course record," said Mutai, who credited his marathon success to cross-training in events such as cross country and the 10,000-meter race. "I knew I could run well because I'd trained hard and I was confident, but the record was not on my mind."

While his record may not be sanctioned, Mutai received a couple of additional prizes to go with the victory itself -- he was awarded $225,000 in total bonuses for the unofficial world record as well as the course record.

Kenya's Moses Musop, who stayed with Mutai over the final five miles and ran stride for stride with him as they turned on to Boylston Street and until the final 600 meters, finished second, four seconds back.

Musop's showing was more than impressive considering it was the first official marathon he's ever run.

"I thought maybe I could do 2:08, 2:07, a time like that," he said. "But not 2:03, 2:04."

Gebregziabher Gebremariam, winner of this year's New York Marathon, took third.

When Mutai was asked how much lower marathon times can go, he said 2:01 might be achievable, but emphasized that fast times are a product of teamwork rather than individual glory.

"[If you run in a pack] of three or four people who help each other, that makes it faster," said Mutai, whose previous personal best was a 2:04:55 runner-up finish last year in Rotterdam. "If you are strong in a group, you can push it."

Pushing it was exactly what Ryan Hall appeared to be doing while taking the lead for much of the early race en route to a fourth-place finish in 2:04:55. It's the all-time fastest marathon time by a US runner under all conditions.

"I knew right away [it was going to be a good day]," said Hall. "I knew early as I was running through the streets and getting high fives and encouragement that it was going to be something special. . . . Everyone was out there was like my brothers and sisters cheering me on. It was awesome."

Hall, who ran a blistering 1:01:58 over the first half of the marathon, said his fast pace wasn't entirely by design, but that it's a strategy that he recommends in Boston.

"I was actually very comfortable, very relaxed out there, just enjoying the neighborhoods and all of that," said Hall. "But when I give people advice about running here, I do tell them to get out fast, to use the hills to their advantage.

Hall, a native of Big Bear Lake, Calif., speaks with a mellow cadence more befitting a surfer than a distance runner. But he feels like he's found a second home in Boston.

"It's just so enjoyable here," he said. "I don't know, maybe I should move here, because every time I do, I feel like the hometown boy."

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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