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Mutai Becomes First to Win NYC, Boston Marathons in Record Time

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Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya
Geoffrey Mutai on his way to victory in the New York City Marathon. Photographer: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Geoffrey Mutai became the first person to run record times to win both the Boston and New York marathons in the same year.

The 30-year-old Kenyan yesterday completed the 26.2 mile (42.2 kilometer) New York City Marathon in two hours, five minutes, six seconds, to carve 2:37 off the course record set by Tesfaye Jifar of Ethiopia in 2001.

“When I am running, I run with no fear,” Mutai said. “I was not expecting to win with that time.”

In April, Mutai ran the fastest time ever to win the 115th Boston Marathon in 2:03:02, besting Haile Gebrselassie’s run of 2:03:59 in Berlin in 2008. It doesn’t qualify as a world record because the Boston course is considered too straight and has too many downhill sections.

Bill Rodgers was the first man to win both marathons in the same year in 1978 and 1979, while fellow American Alberto Salazar did it in 1982. Kenyans Joseph Chebet and Rodgers Rop also achieved the feat, in 1999 and 2002 respectively. Only Rodgers, in logging his third win in Boston 32 years ago, ran a course record time in either race.

Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia was the fastest woman through the five boroughs of New York. The 27-year-old won in 2:23:15 in her debut at the event. Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba, 23, also of Ethiopia, was second, four seconds behind Dado. Mary Keitany of Kenya followed in third, a further 20 seconds back.

Emmanuel Mutai, 27, also of Kenya and this year’s London Marathon winner, was second in the men’s race in 2:06:28, with 24-year-old Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia third in 2:07:13. All three beat Jifar’s course record.

Prize Money

Mutai and Dado each received $130,000 of the $600,000 prize money, with the second-place finishers getting $65,000 and those coming in third winning $40,000. Mutai also collected a $70,000 bonus for finishing in less than 2:07:30.

There was little wind as the race began on a sunny morning with temperatures around 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius).

While Keitany blasted into the lead from the start of the women’s race, the men took a more cautious approach, with about 20 remaining together past the halfway mark. They were 6 seconds outside course record pace after seven miles and 30 seconds inside the record after 13 miles.

Gradually the group dwindled and Mutai made the decisive break with about five miles to go, shaking off three runners to take the lead for good.

“The course here, it was so tough,” Mutai said. “But the weather was so good.”

Keitany Caught

Keitany, 29, began the race as the fastest woman in the field after winning April’s London Marathon in 2:19:19, the fourth-quickest time ever. It was the first sub-2:20 run by a woman in three years.

She opened a 96-second lead by the ninth mile, putting her on course to finish in a race-record 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Her pace slowed toward the end and she was caught by Dado and Deba with about two miles to go. Keitany kicked again as the pair approached, only for both to pass her a few minutes later.

“I didn’t really think we would catch her,” Dado, who trailed Keitany by nearly 2 1/2 minutes at the 15-mile mark, said through a translator at the presentation ceremony. “When we caught up to her, I was very surprised.”

The women’s record for the New York course is 2:22:31, set in 2003 by Margaret Okayo of Kenya. Paula Radcliffe of the U.K. ran the fastest ever women’s marathon, posting a time of 2:15:25 in London in 2003.

Record Turnout

The first New York City marathon in 1970 had 127 runners. Yesterday’s edition, which started on Staten Island and finished in Central Park, attracted a record 47,107 participants.

The marathon was run in honor of Grete Waitz, the record nine-time winner in New York from Norway who died at the age of 57 in April six years after contracting cancer. Waitz won in her first appearance in New York in 1978 and on eight further occasions through 1988.

Organizers estimated the total economic impact of the 2010 race at $340 million, while this year participants have set a target of $31 million in fundraising for charities.

Jennie Finch, the former Team USA softball pitcher who won an Olympic gold medal, raised about $30,000 for the New York Road Runners youth programs as part of a partnership with closely held watchmaker Timex Group BV, which has a sponsorship agreement with the NYC marathon. Finch started last in the field and received $1 from Timex for every runner she passed in finishing in a time of 4:05:26.

After U.S. men won the first 13 editions of the NYC Marathon, only one American man has captured the title: Meb Keflezighi in 2009. U.S. women won the first seven races and haven’t finished first since.

Keflezighi was the top-placed American yesterday in sixth place with a time of 2:09:13. Molly Pritz was the first American female to finish, in 2:31:52 for 12th place.

Japan’s Masazumi Soejima, 41, won the men’s wheelchair event in 1:31:41 to add to his victory in Boston this year. Amanda McGrory, 25, the 2006 New York champion and 2011 London winner from Champaign, Illinois, won the women’s race in 1:50:25. Soejima and McGrory each got $15,000 for first place.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dex McLuskey in Dallas at dmcluskey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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