Tamirat Tola breaks course record with triumph in New York City Marathon

Hellen Obiri won the women’s race while Marcel Hug and Catherine Debrunner were victorious in the wheelchair categories

The Associated Press
Sunday 05 November 2023 17:23 GMT
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Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia set a course record to win the New York City Marathon men’s race on Sunday while Hellen Obiri of Kenya pulled away in the final 400 meters to take the women’s title.

Tola finished in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds, topping the 2:05.06 set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. He pulled away from countrymate Jemal Yimer when the pair were heading toward the Bronx at mile 20. By the time Tola headed back into Manhattan a mile later he was up by 19 seconds and left only chasing Mutai’s mark.

Albert Korir of Kenya, who won the 2021 NYC Marathon, finished second nearly 2 minutes behind Tola.

While the men’s race was well decided before the last few miles, the women’s race came down to the stretch. Obiri, Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia and defending champion Sharon Lokedi were all running together exchanging the lead. Obiri made a move as the trio headed back into Central Park for the final half-mile and finished in 2:27.23. Gidey finished second, 6 seconds behind.

Lokedi was 10 seconds behind Obiri, who won the Boston Marathon in April.

This was a stellar women’s field that was expected to potentially take down the course record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Unlike last year when the weather was unseasonably warm with temperatures in the 70s, Sunday’s race was much cooler with it being in the 50s — ideal conditions for record breaking times and for the 50,000 runners.

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri triumphed in the women’s race at the New York Marathon

Instead the women had a tactical race with 11 runners, including Americans Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle in the lead pack for the first 20 miles. Taylor and Huddle both led the group at points before falling back and finishing in eighth and ninth.

Once the lead group came back into Manhattan for the final few miles, Obiri, Gidey and Lokedi pushed the pace. As the trio entered Central Park they further distanced themselves from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, who finished fourth.

The men’s and women’s winners finished within a few minutes of each other. About an hour earlier, Marcel Hug won the men’s wheelchair race, finishing a few seconds short of his own course record by finishing in 1:25.29. It was the Swiss star’s record-extending sixth NYC Marathon victory.

“It’s incredible. I think it takes some time to realize what happened,” Hug said. “I’m so happy as well.”

He’s the most decorated champion in the wheelchair race at the event, breaking a tie with Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley for most wins in the division in event history.

Marcel Hug and Catherina Debrunner celebrate their victories in the wheelchair races

Catherine Debrunner of Switzerland won her New York debut, shattering the course record in the women’s wheelchair race. She finished in 1:39.32, besting the previous mark by over 3 minutes, which was held by American Susannah Scaroni.

“It’s difficult to describe in words. I said to my coach if I win this race, it’s the best performance I ever showed,” she said. “Knew it’s the toughest marathon of all. It was the first time. I knew it was going to be so tough.”

Debrunner and Tola both earned a $50,000 bonus for topping the previous course records.

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