By Jake Seiner, AP Sports Writer
Joyciline Jepkosgei arrived in New York with a modest goal for her first marathon ever.
“My focus was to finish the race,” she said, a gold medal hanging around her neck.
Not bad for a novice.
Joyciline Jepkosgei, of Kenya, crosses the finish line to win the Pro Women’s Division of the New York City Marathon, in New York’s Central Park, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Jepkosgei upset four-time champion Mary Keitany to win the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3 with a historic debut seven seconds off the course record.
Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya won the men’s event for the second time in three years. He pounced when defending champion Lelisa Desisa dropped out after seven miles, perhaps hurting following a grueling victory at the sweltering world championships last month.
After pulling away from Kenyan countrymate Keitany with about three miles left, Jepkosgei crossed the finish in Central Park in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 38 seconds, the second-best run in course history.
“I didn’t really know I could win,” she said. “But I was trying my best to do it and to make it and to finish strong.”
The 25-year-old Jepkosgei holds the record in the half-marathon but had never run this distance. She looked pained climbing the final hill but strode confidently over the final line.
It was too much for Keitany, a 37-year-old who collapsed after finishing 53 seconds later. She had won four of the previous five NYC Marathons.
Leonard Korir of Kenya follows the leader of the professional men’s division during the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Jepkosgei is the youngest New York winner since 25-year-old Margaret Okayo in 2001. She also won the New York City Half-Marathon in March and is the first runner to win both events.
Kamworor made it a Kenyan sweep moments later with a final time of 2:08:13.
He kicked away from countryman Albert Korir in the 24th mile. Korir finished second, and Ethiopian non-elite runner Girma Bekele Gebre was third.
Desisa, who is from Ethiopia, was in 17th place at the seven-mile mark before leaving the course that traverses through the city’s five boroughs. He was attempting to defend his title 29 days after winning worlds in Doha, Qatar, in boiling conditions he described this week as “dangerous.” With a temperature of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) for the midnight start, 18 of 73 men didn’t finish that race.
Sunday’s run started at an ideal 45 degrees F (7 degrees C).
The 26-year-old Kamworor finished third last year after winning in 2017. He was greeted at the finish line by mentor and training partner Eliud Kipchoge, who completed the first sub-2 hour marathon last month — a feat accomplished under conditions so tightly controlled it didn’t qualify for the record books.
“I didn’t want to disappoint him,” Kamworor said. “That gave me a lot of motivation. He inspired me to win that race.”
Kamworor, also the world record holder in the half-marathon, is the 10th multi-time winner in New York.
He was followed closely by Gebre, a former New York resident who returned to Ethiopia recently to train at altitude. He shaved about five minutes off his personal best to finish in 2:08:38.
The 26-year-old Gebre has no sponsor and no agent. He’s hoping this breakthrough race will change that. “I would like someone to arrange some races for me,” he said through a translator.
Organizers were expecting around 52,000 runners to complete the marathon a year after a world record 52,813 crossed the finish.