By David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (19-Apr) -- At the end of today's 114th Boston Marathon, a man named Cheruiyot still holds the course record.  But it was not four-time winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, who had run 2:07:14 in 2006, who broke the finish tape on Boylston Street today.  Instead, it was 21 year-old Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot who ran a sensational 2:05:52, the fastest marathon ever without pacemakers, a performance which was all the more remarkable because of unfavorable winds during at least some stages of the race, including the last five kilometers.

"I was trying to improve my time of last year," a smiling Cheruiyot told reporters after the race.  "I run here position five.  I was trying to push down my time of two hours ten of last year."

Cheruiyot, who had made a notable marathon debut in Frankfurt in 2007 when he ran a course record 2:07:21, decided his best strategy today was to key off of defending champion, Deriba Merga of Ethiopia.  That turned out to be a good idea.  When Merga zipped through the tenth mile in 4:35, the big pack of 19 men was chopped down to size, leaving a dozen men still in contention through the halfway point (1:03:27).

Amongst the leaders were Americans Meb Keflezighi, last November's ING New York City Marathon champion, and Ryan Hall, the 2008 USA Olympic Trials Marathon champion.  Hall had been the race's early leader, while Keflezighi chose to remain tucked in the pack.

"The wind was a factor," said Keflezighi.  "I was trying to tuck in and stay relaxed.  We ran 1:03:30 or so, and I was feeling great."

Merga kept up the pressure, and by 25-K Hall had fallen 15 seconds back leaving six still in contention: Cheruiyot, Merga, Keflezighi, Ethiopian Tekeste Kebede, Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri, and Kenyan Moses Kigen Kipkosgei.  Cheruiyot was feeling even more positive about his race plan.

"When I came with my friend here," he said turning to Merga at the post race press conference, "if somebody's champion, you try to go with him. I try to come with Merga."

But it was Merga who could not come with Cheruiyot.  Past 30-K, Cheruiyot stepped on the gas, and Merga had no answer.  Cheruiyot's lead ballooned to 33 seconds by 35-K, and the only question which remained was by how much would he break the elder Cheruiyot's course record.  Despite running into headwinds in the last 5 kilometers, which Keflezighi said made Ryan Hall's long blond hair stand up, Cheruiyot rocketed to the finish, running even faster than Samuel Wanjiru's 2:06:34 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the previous fastest marathon ever without pacemaking.

"I talked to Robert and he ran a phenomenal race," Keflezighi said, clearly impressed by Cheruiyot's time.  "Wow," he added.

Well behind, Hall had regathered himself and was now gaining on the leaders.  About 25 miles into the race he passed Keflezighi to move into fourth place, rubbing Keflezighi's shaved head affectionately, a gesture the two Olympians had shared before.  Keflezighi shouted encouragement to Hall who was chasing Merga for the final spot on the podium.  Kebede had already locked up second place and would finish in a personal best 2:07:23.  Hall, wearing a bright read USA uniform, was sprinting after the tiring Merga in the final meters, but could not quite catch him.  Merga clocked 2:08:39 to Hall's 2:08:41, which was the fastest ever by an American at Boston.

"I was just running my own race," Hall explained.  "I don't know if you guys noticed but I was checking my watch quite a bit.  I was trying to see what kind of pace I was running."

Hall said that he was maintaining a steady 4:50 to 4:55 per mile pace, and decided not to follow the race's many surges.

"I was looking at my splits and I was plenty happy with how I was running," Hall said.

Cheruiyot, who said he owned a 50 acre farm in the Eldoret area, said he had at least some plans for his $150,000 first place prize.

"Yes, maybe," he said haltingly.  "When I return to home, I'm going (to get) some cows."

Top Men's Results:
 1. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, 21, KEN       2:05:52 CR* $150,000 + 25,000*
 2. Tekeste Kebede, 28, ETH                 2:07:23 PB    75,000
 3. Deriba Merga, 28, ETH                   2:08:39       40,000
 4. Ryan Hall, 27, Mammoth Lakes, CA        2:08:41       25,000
 5. Meb Keflezighi, 34, Mammoth Lakes, CA   2:09:26       15,000
 6. Gashaw Melese Asfaw, 31, ETH            2:10:53       12,000
 7. John Komen, 32, KEN                     2:11:48        9,000
 8. Moses Kigen Kipkosgei, 27, KEN          2:12:04        7,400
 9. Jason Lehmkuhle, 32, Minneapolis, MN    2:12:34        5,700
10. Alejandro Suarez, 29, MEX               2:12:33        4,200
11. Cuthbert Nyasango, 27, ZIM              2:12:40        2,600
12. Antonio Vega, 26, St. Paul, MN          2:13:47 PB     2,100
13. Elijah Keitany, 27, KEN                 2:14:48        1,800
14. Stephen Kiogora, 35, KEN                2:14:50        1,700
15. Chala Dechase, 25, ETH                  2:14:57        1,500
*Course record; $25,000 bonus; previous 2:07:14, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN), 2006




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