Wesley Korir Prevails in Heat at 2012 Boston Marathon

By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (16-Apr) -- For Kenyan Wesley Korir, heat and humidity turned into a blessing in disguise here at the 116th Boston Marathon.  With temperatures rising into the upper 80F range (27C), Korir was able to hydrate and sing his way to victory, crossing the Boylston Street finish line in 2:12:40.

"I am very happy, I am a Boston Marathon Champion!" Korir said in a short television interview immediately after his win.

Korir successfully bided his time throughout the entire race, keeping with a pack of more than ten through halfway in 1:06:08. Included among the leaders were defending champion Geoffrey Mutai, American Jason Hartmann, and Kenyans Mathew Kisorio, Levy Matebo, and Bernard Kipyego, all of whom appeared to be running comfortably without strain early on.

Knowing that hydration was key in today's heat, the leaders repeatedly crossed the double yellow lines painted in the middle of the roads heading into Boston, grabbing multiple cups of water and Gatorade at each mile's aid stations, in addition to their specialty fluids located every 5 km.

"I knew it was going to be hot, and I had to really take care of my fluids today," said Korir. "My biology degree (from the University of Louisville) came into use! I knew I had to hydrate to survive. I was more concerned about my hydration than my positioning."

Here is where Korir, 29, gained extra motivational strength. On each of his specialty hydration bottles was written the name of his wife, Tarah, and daughter, McKayLA, both of whom he said had given him strength throughout his marathon buildup.

"Every time I drank it, I looked at it and thanked them for their support," he said. "They were in my mind with every step."

After being dropped by Kisorio, Matebo, and Mutai by the turn onto Commonwealth Avenue at the famous Newton Firehouse (located at mile 17.65), Korir was focused on running within himself. Knowing that some of the leaders may fall back and succumb to the heat, he remained content on running a slower pace.

"The guys had taken off at a fast pace," said Korir. "I didn't want to go too hard too soon and cramp up. I thought, 'let me go conservative and run my race.' I was concerned about my health because it was really, really hot."

While running from behind, the two-time Honda LA Marathon champion sang out loud, reciting a prayer song American marathoner Ryan Hall had taught him at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

"I started in the beginning and just kept doing it, especially when I was in pain," said the Nike-sponsored athlete.  "It's a mental thing. There's a couple of times that I thought about throwing in the towel."

While singing and praying, Korir heard a bystander tell him that he was in sixth position at mile 20. By 35 km, Korir was 39 seconds behind Kisorio and Matebo, who were running side-by-side in front at the time.Editor's correction: At 35k Matebo was 10 seconds in front of Kisorio and 57 seconds ahead of Korir.

"[At that point] I thought if I finished number five then that would be awesome," said Korir, who is working on his American citizenship. "After I passed number five, I thought let me get to fourth. I wasn't thinking about winning, I was thinking about counting one person at a time. One by one, it just happened."

From 35 to 40 km, things would change drastically. Kisorio would drop all the way back to seventh, splitting a 19:06 5-K. Korir, on the other hand, was charging fast. Working with Bernard Kipyego, he would move up to second, then ultimately first, taking the lead from Matebo in the 25th mile.

But before they could turn onto Hereford and Boylston Streets for the charge to the finish, Korir got a glimpse of what heat --and miscalculating hydration-- could do to the body. Running adjacent to Fenway Park and crossing over the Massachusetts Turnpike with a mile to go, Korir flew by last year's Women's champion Caroline Kilel, who had suffered under the conditions. Walking along the side of the road, a dejected Kilel sipped water, trying to make her fatigued body feel better.

Korir's focus on hydrating paid off in the end. With a mile to go, he had a ten meter gap on Matebo, one which would only grow over the final kilometer. Breaking the tape in 2:12:40, Korir became the race's 20th champion from Kenya. Matebo would finish 26 seconds later in 2:13:06, while Bernard Kipyego rounded out the top three in 2:13:13.

"I prayed a lot on the course and it helped me to pick my energy up. It was hot out there," he said.

In fourth place came the first American, Jason Hartmann, who clocked a time of 2:14:31. The Boulder, Colo., resident said he tried not to focus on the warm weather, rather placing the majority of his concern on hydration and keeping cool. Pouring water on his black cap early on, then grabbing multiple cups and splashing it on himself, the unsponsored Hartmann had a little fun with the conditions."

"I got fluids as much as possible, at every water stop," said Hartmann. "[I would] get three or four water cups and splash everybody." Joking aside, Hartmann said he appreciated the volunteers and fans along the route, as they kept him motivated to push on and finish despite the rough patches faced.

One athlete who did end up dropping out at the 18 mile mark was Geoffrey Mutai. Dealing with stomach cramps, the 2:03:02 marathoner pulled to the side of the road in clear distress. Asked whether the decision to stop would impact his chances for representation on the Kenyan Olympic team, the 30-year-old said he didn't know.

"For the Olympics, you cannot plan anything," he said. "I cannot say if I will be there or not be there."

Notable finishers included Kisorio, tenth in 2:18:15, and Gebre Gebremariam, fourteenth in 2:22:56. The top masters finisher, Uli Steidl, was a spot and twelve seconds behind Gebremariam. Steidl, a naturalized American citizen from Germany, said training in Seattle, where the temperatures didn't usually top 60F (15.6C) made this race a bit harder.

"It was a little shock to the system. But I ran a smart race," the 40-year-old said.

Top Results (gun times):
 1. Wesley Korir, 29, KEN, 2:12:40
 2. Levy Matebo, 22, KEN, 2:13:06
 3. Bernard Kipyego, 25, KEN, 2:13:13
 4. Jason Hartmann, 31, Boulder, CO, 2:14:31
 5. Wilson Chebet, 26, KEN, 2:14:56
 6. Laban Korir, 26, KEN, 2:15:29
 7. Michel Butter, 26, NED, 2:16:38
 8. David Barmasai, 23, KEN, 2:17:16
 9. Hideaki Tamura, 23, JPN, 2:18:15
10. Mathew Kisorio, 22, KEN, 2:18:15
11. Tim Chichester, 23, USA, 2:21:10
12. Sergio Reyes, 30, Palmdale, CA, 2:22:06
14. Gebre Gebremariam, 27, ETH, 2:22:56

More Boston: *Men's Top Finishers With Splits
*Video highlights here.

Women's Recap: With Late Surge, Sharon Cherop Claims 2012 Boston Marathon Title
*Winners photo gallery here.


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