What a finish between Peres Jepchirchir and Ababel Yeshaneh at the 2022 Boston Marathon!

April 18, 2022

The closing stages of the women’s race at the 2022 Boston Marathon will definitely remain one of the most memorable moments remembered in marathon running this year. 

From the early stages of the race at the 126th edition of the Boston Marathon event, it had appeared as though Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir had been determined to make an early break and do a solo run at the front, but Ethiopia’s Abanel Yeshaneh had remained stuck like a leech at her back, for almost the entire race.

After the leading pack had whittled down to the two after the 40km point, Yeshaneh had stepped on Jepchirchir’s toe for a second time and it looked as though the 2020 Olympic marathon champion got fed up with the pacing work and decided to reverse their roles allowing Yeshaneh to remain at the front as she too turned into a leech behind her.

With about 1km to go, Jepchirchir suddenly overtook and made a move as though to break away. But when Yeshaneh closed the gap again, she allowed her to pass and took her initial position behind her. It was as though she had decided, to avoid any further contact, she would either break away and run alone at the front or remain behind Yeshaneh until the last finishing kick.

At some point, Yeshaneh also decided to make a surge at the front, but she could not shake off her rival. The two were clearly exhausted and it was a matter of time before one would give up and let the other take the win. It was no longer a physical battle, but rather a test of mental toughness.

In a dramatic finish, the two fought hard up to almost the last 50m of the race, when eventually Jepchirchir emerged victorious after running 2:21:01 against Yeshaneh’s 2:21:05. Mary Ngugi came in a distant third in 2:21:32 slightly ahead of the ever-strong Ednah Kiplagat who finished fourth in 2:21:40.

The women’s battle had begun quite early in the race just as they approached the 15km mark. The two runners in blue uniform; Peres Jepchirchir and Joyciline Jepkosgei took to the front and soon after there were just two other runners behind them; Ababel Yeshaneh and Azimeraw Degitu, but the latter would soon fate.

Yeshaneh hung behind and almost uncomfortably so close to Jepchirchir. In fact, at some point, Yeshaneh almost caused an accident when her shoes got in contact with Jepchirchir. But, Jepchirchir would overlook that after the race, “we apologized to each other. Yeshaneh is a good friend of mine,” she said.  Jepkosgei was running comfortably, alone parallel to them on the other side of the road.

For the better part of the race, the three runners ran together as though they had mutually reached an agreement to go easy on each other until the last stages of the race.

However, as they approached the 40km point Jepkosgei had suddenly slowed down a bit and Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh left her behind. Ednah Kiplagat, in the company of Mary Ngugi, came and overtook the 2021 London Marathon champion who would keep fading until she eventually finished in 7th place.

The men’s race was almost a repeat of the 2020 Valencia Marathon where Evans Chebet had beaten Lawrence Cherono in a sprint finish in the last 100m. This time around, the order was the same, but the margin was even bigger.

Evans Chebet had broken away in a very long sprint before ensuring that he maintained the gap at the front until he won the race in 2:06:51 ahead of Lawrence Cherono who took second in 2:07:21. The defending champion, Benson Kipruto took 3rd in 2:07:27.

The men had remained together in a huge leading pack up to about the last eight kilometers of the race. There were still 15 of them at the 30km point that was crossed at 1:30:59.

Evans Chebet made a surge at the 35km mark that left the pack in a single file as he began to open up a gap as he broke away with Gabriel Geay of Tanzania.

A chasing pack of Benson Kipruto, the defending champion, and Lawrence Cherono soon overtook Geay who had begun to fade as they focused on bridging the gap between them and Chebet at the front, but it was a little too late for them as Chebet strode away to win the race.

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