Kamworor comes in third as Desisa runs away with the New York City Marathon

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New York. Sunday, November 4, 2018.


Ethiopian two-time Boston Marathon champion (2013,2015)  Lelisa Desisa today emerged victorious in one of the most competitive three way finishes ever witnessed in New York Marathon recent history.

Lining up at the start line as the man with one of the most fearsome personal bests in the entire cast with a time of 2:04:45, only bettered by his compatriot and countryman Tamirat Tola 2:04:06, and better than Shura Kitata’s 2:04:49; Lelisa Desisa was not an underdog, but was hardly the favorite to win. This burden was fully borne by the shoulders of Geoffrey Kamworor, the defending New York Marathon Champion albeit holding a modest Personal Best of 2:06:12. Also in the race was the much touted emerging force Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 London Marathon champion.

Indeed, Lelisa Desisa’s quest was helped by the fact that he was the runner up in the 2014 Edition of the New York Marathon to Wilson Kipsang, and emerged third in the 2015 and 2017 editions of this race. Thus it must have dawned on him at the start of the race that it was now or never.

crosses the finish line during the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon on November 4, 2018 in Central Park in New York City.

With the weather near perfect, temperatures underneath 50C with slight wind, and no rain, there was an emergent possibility that the 2011 course record of 2:05:06 held by Geoffrey Mutai might come under threat, although news on the airwaves preceding the race gave no such indication.

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And so the race kicked off with much fanfare with the elite athletes quickly latching onto the lead leaving over 50,000 other participants trailing behind them.

It wasn’t until almost the mid-way point of the race with the time stamp showing 63:55 that things begun to get interesting when Shura Kitata suddenly accelerated with an injection of pace that left Daniel Wanjiru, Festus Talam, Scott Fauble and Jared Ward trailing in his wake, while Tamirat Tola, Geoffrey Kamworor and Lelisa Desisa gave chase stride for stride alongside each other, but not more than three seconds behind Kitata.

Eventually Kamworor and Desisa managed to reel in Kitata with Tola still in contention, but shortly thereafter Tamirat Tola couldn’t handle the pressure, and eased back.

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Geoffrey Kamworor must have felt pretty confident coming up on the last 10K considering the fact that he had previously blasted the last 5K at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in a time of 13:01. If he managed to produce the same here, there was no doubt that he would rip apart the likes of Kitata and Desisa.

But it wasn’t to be. According to Murphy’s Law, Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The problem for Kamworor begun when Shura Kitata, once again, accelerated in the last five kilometers. Not willing to let him go this time, Kamworor latched onto him, and took the lead, burning up the pace while trying to shake off the two Ethiopian’s who were stuck to him in an apparent sense of fortitude and defiance.

With the pace relentless, eventually Kamworor appeared to have broken Shura Kitata, and with only Lelisa Desisa remaining, he must have felt it was a case of one down, one to go.

However, over the last three kilometers, Lelisa Desisa decided it was time to do what he came here to do. Ever so slightly pressing the pace and forcing Kamworor out of his comfort zone, Desisa eventually threw down his cap with less than a kilometer to the finish and flew off. Kamworor , apparently in an act of defiance did the same, but his energy reserves were depleted and he couldn’t match Desisa’s kick.

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And just when Kamworor was contemplating settling for the runners up slot, the improbable happened. Shura Kitata, until then written off, suddenly emerged behind him, eating up yard after yard of the distance between him and Kamworor, until he caught up with him, and flew past.

At this point it seemed the race was over, with Desisa’s lead seemingly insurmountable. But Kitata would have something to say about that, pressing the pace more and more until everyone was on the edge of their seats with four hundred meters to go.

In a case of too little too late, eventually Shura Kitata couldn’t overhaul Desisa, as the Ethiopian maestro entered a very elite list of eight athletes to have won both Boston and New York when he crossed the finish line in a time of 2:05:59 with Shura Kitata settling for second in 2:06:01 and Geoffrey Kamworor coming in third in 2:06:26 in one of the most thrilling finishes ever witnessed on the New York Circuit.

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