Welcome to the 2015 Boston Marathon. As you may know, the titles were won by Kenya’s Caroline Rotich (2:24:55) and Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa (2:09:17). The races had plenty of intrigue, and were quite similar in structure – fast early, then slowing, allowing a big group to form and stay together all the way through the Newton Hills. Both had American interest, with Ritz and Meb on the men’s side, Desi Linden on the women’s.
Shortly after those hills, the decisive moves were made, and Desisa and Rotich emerged from the attrition to claim their titles.
I posted splits and comment as the race developed, and you can follow those thoughts below.
On we go to London on Sunday!
Finish – Lelisa Desisa wins the 2015 Boston Marathon in 2:09:17. He was the race’s most combative runner (along with Tadese Tola, perhaps), and a deserved winner. Having won it in 2013, and been second to Wilson Kipsang in New York in November, he’s definitely a man to bet on in these big unpaced races.
Second goes to another Ethiopian, Yemane Tsegay, with Wilson Chebet in third.
40km – 2:02:39, last 5km of 14:40. Desisa seems now to have done the job. He was challenged by Tsegay, but responded, and the gap that was 10m before Tsegay cut it has suddenly jumped out to maybe 30m again. With only 2km to go, it’s difficult to see Tsegay coming back.
39km – Lelisa Desisa has now gone clear, but not yet decisively. It was his aggression that split the group to begin with, and now he holds about 15m over his countryman Yemane Tsegay. There may yet be change in the final kilometer – the sight of the banner does that, as we have just seen on the women’s side.
In fact, in the minute since I wrote that, the gap seems to have closed slightly. This could be interesting…
35km – 1:47:59, 16:00 for the last 5km. Projecting 2:10:11 now. Very slow, but the headwind has become a factor. The ramping in pace started right at the end of that last segment, so the 40km mark will be interesting. Four men are clear – Desisa is the aggressor, and he has Korir, Tsegay and Chebet for company. Chebet is dangling off the group though, and so it seems likely it’s down to three now.
33km – Now Ritzenhein is gone off the back, predictably – after being dropped earlier, he was always there by virtue of the patience of the big guns, but a good first run for the American. The pace is now faster, as they crested Heartbreak Hill it was ramped up and accounted for Ritz and Lusapho April. Meb remains among the east Africans.
They’re running into a strong headwind, so patience may be decisive now. The person who wastes the least energy will see the benefits in the final 3km.
32km – It’s an accordion at the front, with different leaders applying subtle pressure, stretching the bunch, then dropping off and it gets compact again. The men’s and women’s races are very similar in this regard, and both have a barometer of even pace (Ritz for the men, Linden for the women).
30km – 1:31:59, so that’s 15:54 for the last 5km, and that tells you how slow it is, as they wait and watch. That’s why ten men are together, even as we move through the Newton Hills.
The mens’ race is under pressure more because of those hills than any one athlete. Meb is there, Ritz is there, so the American interest is huge. Chebet looks good, so do a few Ethiopians, and April for South Africa. Tadese is no longer there (he began dropping off shortly before 25km, in truth), so that’s another marathon misfire for the world’s fastest ever half-marathon runner.
The pace has now dropped so much – 15:31, 15:37, and a 15:54, so expect some fireworks in the last 10km
25km – 1:16:05, so the last 5km in 15:37. Ritzenhein is still in the lead pack, but the lead has once again been taken on by Tola. As I type that, Ritzenhein goes to the front again. The lead group is about ten, and the two races are now very similar. They approach the Newton Hills within the next kilometer, and that should shake the race up, or at least test it out. Ritz is providing an interesting lens on this race – I suspect he’s running a pretty constant pace, and so the gap between him and the rest is an indication of their surges (and slowdowns), more than it is of Ritzenhein’s aggression. The fact that he’s leading and opening a gap at 15:37 per 5km is an indication of that. The commentators are totally missing this subtlety, but anyway.
The top men, aggressive early, are now biding their time. Should be a fun final 15km.
Halfway – 1:04:01, which projects a 2:08:02. Remember at 10km when it was projecting 2:05:23? It’s slowed considerably, even with the surges that have pressured the race. Of interest, Ritzenhein is back and has even gone to the front now. He is the barometer for the pace at the front – he was dropped by the surges, then they came together and slowed, and he came back. He’s running his own race, a 2:07-something, and the rest are going fast-slow.
20km – 1:00:28. It’s calmed down now, Desisa is back in the pack, and the pace is much slower – 15:31 for the last 5km. Looking across the group, I see Tsegay, Tadese, April, Tola, Chebet, Meb, Gebremariam, Chepkwony and Korir, so pretty much everyone other than Makau, and of course Ritzenhein and Tegenkamp from the USA. The group is ten-strong now. This is the calm before the hills and aggression likely to come in about 10km.
15km – 44:57, so 15:14 for the last 5km. That’s not as fast, but the group is really under pressure. It’s still Ethiopian-induced, with Desisa now doing the work, and it has spread the group of about 15 across the road. In fact, Desisa has gone clear, though not decisively. That’s a very early move for a guy who has won this race and finished on the podium in New York in November last year. He won’t be allowed to move clear, of course, not after last year, and because his ability is well known. Still, it’s enlivened the race early.
Six have remained compact at the front, including Chebet and Korir of Kenya, April of South Africa, Tadese of Eritrea and Meb from USA. But the racing is much more aggressive than I expected this early – to be cut to seven within 15km is a surprise.
10km – 29:43, so 15:01 for the last 5km, and so still an aggressive pace (projects 2:05:23). The group has thinned. Aside from Patrick Makau (which the commentary still hasn’t picked up), most seem to be in the group, but the group is stretched out, and positions seem to be changing more fluidly, lots of jostling and movement. The Ethiopians have been the aggressors so far – Tola and now Gebremariam have been at the front most of the way. Perhaps they’ve decided that the race won’t be won by a 2:08-surprise move.
5km – 14:42, which projects a 2:04:03. Again, the first 5km have the potential to be very fast in Boston, so that pace will get slower in the next 15km.
Patrick Makau, former world record holder, has already been dropped. Unsurprisingly, the commentators have missed it. Shortly after 10 min he fell off the pace and looked to be limping or hobbling, so I assume he came into the race with an injury. At least, I’d hope so – if he’s being dropped at 2:05 pace within 10 min of a (downhill) marathon start, he’s got real problems. Ever since that record in Berlin, he has really battled, and his recent comeback seems to have been a false dawn.
Finish – Caroline Rotich wins the 2015 Boston Marathon in 2:24:55. What a fantastic final kilometer that was – Dibaba held a five meter lead with about a minute to go, but Rotich found something in the final 200m and bridged that gap and went clear. Bezunesh Deba got third and Desi Linden fourth.
40km – 2:17:30, and a last 5km in 16:41. That’s the damage we’ve seen done to that group of nine, it cut them to three and now it’s down to two for the final finish straight.
38km – Dibaba has gone again, and this time only two are able to respond. She has Caroline Rotich and Bezunesh Deba for company. Linden is back in fourth, still close enough to rejoin if that pace at the front is relaxed.
35km – 2:00:49, 17:26 for the last 5km. Of course, it’s a hilly 5km so the pace is firm. Nine women in the lead group, and Linden is driving that bus. The Ethiopians and Kenyans are sitting in, perhaps waiting, perhaps suffering. The next twenty minutes will tell.
And as I write that Mare Dibaba has gone for it, and that is a big surge. We’ve seen a few testers so far, and unless Dibaba is going to shut it off, this is not one of those. This is a big move and a group of nine is now a long line of nine. Now Dibaba has dropped off slightly – it’s like a cycling road race now, but that move will have given the runners some idea of who has firepower in their legs over the final 5km.
30km – 1:43:23, last 5km in 17:15. After the surge shortly after 25km, the pace slowed considerably. It’s not unlike the men’s race now – surge, then slow, and the result is runners falling off, being stretched, but then being able to recover and get back on the group. The men’s race has Ritzenheim, on the women’s side we saw Linden first fall off, and now rejoin, and then go straight to the front to push the pace. Flanagan meanwhile is gone from the group.
26km – finally there has been some aggression and it has come from the Kenyans just after 25km. Kilel went to the front and the group, previously a tightly bunched pack, is now a long line under that pressure. Linden is off the back, Flanagan is working hard to stay in touch, but this is definitely a move from the Caroline Kilel on the first of the four Newton Hills shortly after 25km.
They seem to have regrouped a little at 27km, so that move stretched the accordion, and may have disposed of a couple of runners (Linden is in touch, Duliba is not), but they’ve reformed now. Things are happening though.
25km – 1:26:08 (last 5km in 17:08). Amazingly, the women’s group has not shrunk in 20km. It’s still twelve, and the pace has not changed much either. The last 5km was . There’s no real aggressor, unlike in the men’s race, and so there’s no pressure being applied to the front.
Halfway – 1:12:44, so projecting a 2:25:28
20km – 1:09:00, a 17:11 for the last 5km. The pace is solid, but still 12 women remain, because it’s not spectacular. As expected, the Hills will filter the race
15km – 51:48. The pace has been maintained – 17:25 for the last 5km, and now projecting 2:25:43.
There are still twelve women in the group, and that’s enough to tell you that they haven’t kept up the aggression. Desi Linden has been at the front for most of the last 3km, but not doing anything to the race yet. The race will wait until the Hills before it splits, perhaps
10km – 34:23, so 17:26 for the last 5km. Still brisk, but expectedly slightly slower. The TV commentators are saying there is no wind, so perhaps conditions are not as challenging as first thought. It now projects a 2:25:05, and eleven women are together.
5km – 16:57, average pace 3:23 per kilometer, projecting a 2:23:02, but Boston is always fast at the start, with a big downhill drop over this period. So don’t get too carried away, but it seems aggressive.
It’s windy and cold in Boston – just got this tweet from one of the medical doctors at the finish line:
@Scienceofsport volunteering at the finish line medical tent. It's going to be cold & rainy – expecting slower times & hypothermic runners.
— Bryan (@TriDocB) April 20, 2015
Boston is always an interesting one because a) it’s never rabbited, so the race is more tactical, and that means more surprises (last year was a great example), and b) the course profile makes the race attritional, and the result is that the 2:05 men often find 2:08 men a sterner challenge than they may be on a flat course like London or Berlin – the ability to deal with the changes in rhythm basically invites a ‘different’ way to win in Boston.
Boston has also thrown up some challenging weather conditions – a few years ago, the wind blew so strong from behind that two men nearly broke 2:03. A year later, the winning time was almost ten minutes later, thanks to a searingly hot day. Today seems cold, and windy (a headwind this time), and so it is likely to be slow in both. I would not be surprised if 2:11 wins the men’s race, while 2:28 may do it for the women.
The race has just begun, so we will get our first indication of the women’s race shortly.