The Boston Marathon Report Cards Are Out – We Rank the Runners A Through dnF

April 19, 2017

The 2017 Boston Marathon is in the books and it’s time for the report cards. Purists might argue we should just list the order of finish and leave it at that, but what fun would that be? We give our grades to the top 10 and a few others. We didn’t give out any D’s or F’s, though there were a few incompletes (DNFs).

Men’s race grades for Top 10

Geoffrey Kirui Wins Boston 2017 Geoffrey Kirui Wins Boston 2017

A+ 1. Geoffrey Kirui (2:09:37)  The ultimate goal is to win the race and that’s what Geoffrey Kirui did. Since this is the first time we’ve done marathon report cards, we can’t guarantee a win gives you an A+, but for Kirui it does because he wasn’t even listed as one of the top 10 contenders for the race. His coach Renato Canova said Kirui only does “70% (of) the preparation of a real marathon runner” because he lives in a very hilly area. We think training in a very hilly area might be a key to doing well in Boston.

We were also impressed by Kirui’s ability to come back from a devastating foot injury. Canova told us that at the end of 2012, a truck ran over Kirui’s foot and his Kenyan doctors told him it was possible he may never walk again. He went to the Netherlands for treatment, and for the next two years, he struggled to regain the form that saw him run 26:55 at age 18. But he’s gradually improved every year and now he’s the Boston Marathon champion.

Kirui and Rupp Kirui and Rupp

A  2. Galen Rupp (2:09:58) – The only reason Galen doesn’t get an A+ is because of high expectations. Arguably the greatest American long distance runner ever, Galen finished second in a personal best despite dealing with plantar fasciitis during his buildup. That’s an A+ performance for any other American except the guy who already has Olympic bronze and silver medals.

3. Suguru Osako (2:10:28) – Osako finished 3rd, 30 seconds behind his occasional training partner Rupp in his marathon debut. Definitely exceeded expectations (his coach Pete Julian thought top-8 would be a “great” day).

A- 4. Shadrack Biwott (2:12:08) – After finishing fifth in New York, the American finished fourth in Boston despite only finishing 17th at the NYC Half last month. And it never hurts to get on the good side of the graders. After the race, Biwott said he really enjoyed our April Fool’s prank involving Eliud Kipchoge.

B-  5. Wilson Chebet (2:12:35) – 5th place isn’t a terrible performance, but Chebet has been second before and has a nice pedigree.

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A- 6. Abdi Abdirahman (2:12:45)  – We probably shouldn’t give magical bonus points just because someone turned 40 or because they hung with the leaders for a long time but we are for Abdi. He finished 6th in 2:12:45, but what most impressed us most was that Abdi hung with Rupp and Kirui as long as possible. He was not content to just be a 40-year-old doing well in Boston.

B+  7. Augustus Maiyo (2:13:16) – Grade inflation is rampant these days, and we don’t want to be accused of it so we’re not giving him an A-. We decided to give him a B+ because it felt weird ranking him above Desi Linden (who we initially graded at a B), so we bumped her up. However, Maiyo’s previous marathon best was only 2:18 at the Olympic Trials so this was a very good result.

C- 8. Dino Sefir (2:14:26) – On paper, Sefir, a 2:04 guy who won Barcelona (2:09) and Ottawa (2:08), should not be losing to the likes of Augustus Maiyo, Abdi Abdirahman and Shadrack Biwott.

B- 9. Luke Puskedra (2:14:45) – Luke’s marathon career wobbled with a 2:20 in Chicago last year, but he redeemed himself here with a solid performance, even if 2:14:45 isn’t super fast for a guy like him.

C- 10. Jared Ward (2:15:28) – Jared was 6th at the Olympics so this wasn’t a very good run for him, but it was a lot better than a lot of other guys so no way do we give him a D. We also knew going in that Ward wasn’t in the same kind of shape he was in Rio after an injury caused him to miss time after the Olympics.

B- 11. Sean Quigley (2:15:34) – We said we’d rank the top 10 but since an American was 11th, we’ll do a bonus ranking and give Quigley a B-. Considering the depth in front of him, the Massachusetts native did well to take 11th and give the Americans seven of the top 11 finishers.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

This gets you a lifetime achievement award This gets you a lifetime achievement award

Meb Keflezighi (13th, 2:17:00) – Meb was already a legend before his win in Boston three years ago. Meb did what he always does: he gave it his all out there and represented America well.

Emmanuel Mutai (15th, 2:19:33) – Mutai became the first pro to finish all the World Marathon Major events. Thus he gets a lifetime achievement award but it looks like his best days are behind him. We can’t give a guy a D and a lifetime achievement award at the same time.

DNF Lemi Berhanu Hayle – The most notable of the DNFs was the defending champ. He at least ran with the leaders for as long as he could then dropped out.

Women’s race – Top 10

Edna Kiplagat Wins Boston Edna Kiplagat Wins Boston

A+ 1. Edna Kiplagat (2:21:52) – The women’s winner destroyed the field when she went to the lead after 30k and may have taken down the extra $500,000 WMM bonus. An impressive win for high stakes when many were wondering if her best days were behind her earns an A+.

A  2. Rose Chelimo (2:22:51) – A very good run in its own right but she gets props for also running World XC last month and finishing 9th there.

Jordan On Her Way to 3rd Jordan On Her Way to 3rd

A+ 3. Jordan Hasay (2:23:00) – Some people are made for the marathon and it looks like Jordan Hasay is one of them. Not only did she finish 3rd, but she crushed the debut marathon record for an American. Not much more Jordan could have done except win the race. Even more impressive is Jordan did this less than six months after the death of her mother, Teresa. Jordan’s dad, Joe, told Runner’s World before the race, “She has blossomed since my wife’s passing. It could have went both ways. It could have went left or it could have went right. And everything went right.”

B+ 4. Desi Linden (2:25:06) – Desi did what she always does: she went out and gave a very solid performance. Relative to her expectations, it wasn’t what she wanted, but it was a solid run. We give Desi an A+ for her post-race comments where she was very real and opened up to the possibility that she may never win the Boston Marathon. “I poured everything into this. Maybe this is my peak,” she said. She didn’t win the race, but the fans love her for pouring everything into this.

C+ 5. Gladys Cherono  (2:27:20) – Cherono was our favorite coming in. She definitely can do better than this, but this was her first non-flat marathon and first marathon she’s run since 2015 because of injury.

C+ 6. Valentine Kipketer (6th, 2:29:35) – She’s been 5th here before and 3rd in Chicago. We can’t give her a B- because she was nearly eight minutes behind the winner.

C- 7. Buzunesh Deba (2:30:58), 8. Brigid Kosgei (8th, 2:31:48), 10. Ruta Aga (10th, 2:33:26) – They’ve all done a lot better but managed to get in top 10.

C 9. Diane Nukuri (2:32:24) – She’s placed as high as 5th in New York last year, but often is in the 8-10 range at World Marathon Majors. Decent day for her.

Other Americans Outside the Top 10

B- Lindsay Flanagan (11th, 2:34:44), Esther Atkins (13th, 2:36:11) Expectations weren’t as high for these two. Just missed the top 10, but still pretty good runs for them.  

Breakthrough Performance

Danna Herrick (12th, 2:34:53) – She’d probably be getting a lot more attention if she ran 1:30 faster and cracked the top 10 but this Hansons-Brooks runner PR’d by 5:16 and negative-split the race to finish 12th. Pretty good for someone who was 81st at the Olympic Trials. Danna ran faster per mile in Boston than she did at the NYC Half a month ago.

She’s Now a Marathoner

Liz Costello (18th, 2:38:21) – Costello was 7th at the Olympics Trials 10,000m last year and now has one marathon under her belt.

Discuss the grades here: Boston Marathon Report Cards Are Out 

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