Caroline Rotich Outkicks Mare Dibaba To Pull Upset At 2015 Boston Marathon

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

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BOSTON (20-Apr) — Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich of Kenya overcame strong fields and wet and windy weather to win the 119th Boston Marathon here today in 2:09:17 and 2:24:55, respectively.  For Desisa, who won here just hours before the terrorist bombings in 2013, it was his second victory, while Rotich got her first.  Both athletes won $150,000 in prize money.

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The women’s race recap is below. Men’s race recap is here. LRC analysis of both races here: LRC 9 Takeaways From The 2015 Boston Marathon – Desi and Ritz Lead Late, One of Meb’s Gutsiest Races Ever, Teg Doesn’t Like The Marathon + America’s Next Great Marathon Star?

Rotich, 30, who went to high school in Japan but now lives and trains in Santa Fe, N.M., used a patient strategy to win her first major marathon title.  She ran at the back of the lead pack of 11 women through 5 kilometers in an honest –but not too fast– 16:57, content to let others do the leading.  Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia (second here last year) was the nominal leader, and was followed by compatriots Mare Dibaba, Aberu Kebede, and Shure Demise; Kenyans Joyce Chepkirui, Caroline Kilel, and Sharon Cherop; and Americans Desi Linden, Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg.

Caroline Rotich Finall Got it Right in a Marathon

Caroline Rotich Finall Got it Right in a Marathon

The pace slowed for the next two 5-kilometer segments (17:28 and 17:23, respectively) and little changed among the leaders.  That prompted Linden, who finished second here in 2011, to take the lead.

“That’s how you have to run this course,” said Linden, 31, who lives in Washington, Mich., and did most of her training for this race in Kenya to avoid the harsh Michigan winter.  “You have to be gritty and aggressive.”

Linden led through 15-K (51:48) and 20-K (1:09:00), but fell back slightly after she dropped her personal bottle at the 20-kilometer fluid station and had to work her way back up.  Linden again took over the lead, holding a steady pace into the increasingly strong headwinds.

Between 25 and 30-K, Flanagan and Cragg (who eventually dropped out) fell off the pace, leaving nine women still in contention: Linden, Kilel, Chepkirui, Dibaba, Kebede, Deba, Demise, Rotich and Cherop.  Dibaba, her hair done in intricate braids, made the first important move of the race.  Waiting for the 35-K mark, she surged into the lead and only Deba and Rotich were able to respond.

Desi Led More Than Anyone Else

Desi Led More Than Anyone Else

“Initially, I was trying to improve the pace and make it a little faster,” Dibaba told reporters after the race through a translator.

The trio ran the fastest 5-kilometers of the race from 35 to 40-K (16:41) and the podium was decided.  But in what order?

“I saw the 25-mile (about 40-K) mark and I feel like I’m still strong,” Rotich told reporters.  She continued: “When I turned on to the last street I said, no, it’s not over.”

Deba, who chose to run on the left hand side of the road way, couldn’t keep up with Rotich and Dibaba, and saw another Boston victory slip away.

“Today was not my day,” said Deba, who lives in the Bronx in New York City.  “The last three miles my body is too tight.”

Rotich and Dibaba traded surges, and Dibaba liked her chances.

“I was pretty confident that I was going to win,” said the petite Ethiopian.

Shalane Flanagn Did Not Have the Day She Wanted

Shalane Flanagn Did Not Have the Day She Wanted

But the day would belong to Rotich.  Running on Dibaba’s right, she made one final push for victory, and opened a gap.  The move stuck.

“All of a sudden I saw the finish line,” Rotich marveled.  She added: “I had to give it all the strength.”

Rotich pumped her fist before breaking the tape on Boylston Street in 2:24:55, a very solid time under the conditions.  Dibaba was just four seconds back, and Deba was timed in 2:25:09.  Linden would finish fourth in 2:25:39 and was genuinely pleased with her performance.

I beat some great athletes today,” declared Linden, choking up slightly.  She continued: “I’m not an emotional person, but today was huge for me.”

Flanagan, who grew up in nearby Marblehead and finished seventh here last year, crossed the finish line ninth in 2:27:47.  She did not speak with the media in the media center, but tweeted:

LRC note: She did the television broadcast on Universal Sports after the race, “You can’t take for granted being on the starting line. I had a setback in January so I didn’t even know I was going to be here.”

On the setback, “I could just tell, I didn’t get on the course as much this year, and I kind of switched my training due to the setback and injury, I didn’t get on the roads, as much. I could just tell the pounding, the typical Boston course, my legs felt it. I tried to talk my legs out of slowing down, but they didn’t wnat to listen…I stayed positive and fought the entire way and said, ”never give up, never give up.

Top Women’s Results (Unofficial)

Pos. Name BIB Time
1 Rotich, Caroline (KEN) F11 2:24:55
2 Dibaba, Mare (ETH) F2 2:24:59
3 Deba, Buzunesh (ETH) F1 2:25:09
4 Linden, Desiree (USA) F10 2:25:39
5 Cherop, Sharon (KEN) F8 2:26:05
6 Kilel, Caroline (KEN) F9 2:26:40
7 Kebede, Aberu (ETH) F3 2:26:52
8 Demise, Shure (ETH) F6 2:27:14
9 Flanagan, Shalane (USA) F4 2:27:47
10 Chepkirui, Joyce (KEN) F16 2:29:07
11 Duliba, Aleksandra (BLR) F5 2:29:23
12 Nemec, Lisa (CRO) F14 2:35:18
13 Nelson, Adriana (USA) F18 2:38:47
14 Amako, Megumi (JPN) F22 2:39:08
15 Dionne, Hilary (USA) F21 2:40:42
16 Philbrook, Lauren (USA) F24 2:41:17
17 Phillips, Caitlin (USA) F25 2:44:28
18 Hunter-Galvan, Liza (NZL) F119 2:46:44
19 Uchiyama, Mayumi (JPN) F29 2:47:17
20 Green, Amber (USA) F28 2:48:07
21 Olaru, Nuta (USA) F101 2:48:28
22 Rediger, Andrea (USA) F40 2:48:41
23 Gruca, Dorota (POL) F104 2:48:49
24 Wijayaratne, Hiruni (USA) F27 2:49:05
25 Davenport, Marie (USA) F106 2:49:06
26 Barry, Kristin (USA) F111 2:49:32


More: Men’s Race Recap Here
Analysis: LRC 9 Takeaways From The 2015 Boston Marathon – Desi And Ritz Lead Late, One Of Meb’s Gutsiest Races Ever, Teg Doesn’t Like The Marathon + America’s Next Great Marathon Star? It was a tremendous foot race in Boston with some American drama before Caroline Rotich pulled the huge upset and Desisa showed he is boss.

*Video Highlights/Interviews Here