Hellen Obiri Rips 15:06 5k From 35k To 40k To Repeat As Boston Marathon Champion

Obiri is the first woman to repeat in Boston since Catherine Ndereba in 2004 and 2005

BOSTON — Thanks to a furious finish, Kenya’s Hellen Obiri became the first woman since Catherine Ndereba in 2004-2005 to repeat as Boston Marathon champion as she won the 2024 Boston Marathon on Monday in 2:22:37. 2022 New York City Marathon champ Sharon Lokedi was second in 2:22:45. Obiri has now won three straight majors as she also won New York last fall.

American Emma Bates, who ran with the lead pack often leading it for the first 20 miles, took home top American honors for the second straight year in 12th in 2:27:14. Former 1500 star Jenny Simpson of the US recorded her first marathon finish in 18th (2:31:39).

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The Race

Unlike the men, who tried to take advantage of a beautiful day for running fast (sunny 56 degrees at the start with a tailwind), the women’s race was tactical until late. A lead pack of 19 women hit halfway in 72:33.

Obiri got the win by running her final 4.2 miles at sub-5:00 mile pace. Mile 23 was 4:57, mile 24 was 4:41, mile 25 was 4:54, and she ran her last mile in 4:51 to finally break free of Lokedi, who hung with Obiri until Kenmore Square.

Twelve women were still in the lead pack at 35k (21.75 miles) before the first sub-5 mile of the race during mile 23 separated the pretenders from the contenders. At mile 23, only four women were in the lead group — the eventual top two plus two-time Boston champ Edna Kiplagat, who ended up third in 2:23:21 at age 44, and Worknesh Edesa, who won Osaka in January (2:18:51 pb) and ended up 6th in 2:24:47. Thanks to the 4:41 24th mile split, by 24 miles it was a two-woman affair and Obiri proved to be the best over the final mile.

Top 20 results appear below and then we give you our full analysis.

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2024 Boston Marathon Top 20 Women’s Results

  1. Obiri, Hellen KEN 2:22:37
  2. Lokedi, Sharon KEN 2:22:45
  3. Kiplagat, Edna KEN 2:23:21
  4. Diriba, Buze ETH 2:24:04
  5. Teferi, Senbere ETH 2:24:04
  6. Ngugi, Mary KEN 2:24:24
  7. Edesa, Workenesh ETH 2:24:47
  8. Gardadi, Fatima ETH 2:24:53
  9. Mesfin, Tiruye ETH 2:24:58
  10. Dida, Dera ETH 2:25:16
  11. Yirga, Siranesh ETH 2:26:31
  12. Bates, Emma USA 2:27:14
  13. Chepkirui, Vibian KEN 2:27:23
  14. Kiprop, Helah KEN 2:27:36
  15. Hall, Sara USA 2:27:58
  16. Linden, Desiree USA 2:28:27
  17. Belete, Meseret ETH 2:31:03
  18. Simpson, Jenny AUS 2:31:39
  19. Orjuela, Angie COL 2:32:14
  20. Scott, Dominique USA 2:32:31

Obiri and Lokedi were incredible in the closing stages

It’s not a surprise that this race finished quickly. There were 21 women on 2:25 pace at halfway – which just is not that fast considering there was a tailwind and that portion of the course is significantly downhill. Obiri and Lokedi had plenty in the tank once they summited the Newton Hills, and they unleashed on the downhills through Brookline.

How fast was their 15:06 split from 35k to 40k? Well consider that only four women in NCAA history have ever run faster than 15:06 for 5,000 meters on the track. Yes, that segment is more than 100 feet downhill, but Obiri and Lokedi also had more than 20 miles of racing in their legs in that point. Incredible stuff. 

Just as incredible was their (significantly downhill) 24th mile split: 4:41. If that split is accurate, it’s the fastest ever recorded in a women’s marathon. Usually you have to take marathon mile splits with a grain of salt as they are often eyeballed by a spotter and the mile markers are not always placed as accurately as the 5k mats. But Boston had mats for the splits at mile 23 and 24.  It was clear both women were motoring as that was the mile during which they dropped Kiplagat.

Is Hellen Obiri now better in the marathon that she was on the track?

Right now, Obiri’s track career is longer and more decorated (two world outdoor titles, two Olympic silvers) than her marathon career. But when all is said and done, she may go down as an even better marathoner than track runner. She has won three of her four career marathons, Boston twice and New York once. And unless Athletics Kenya loses its mind, Obiri will be on the Olympic team in Paris this summer, giving her a chance to earn the one title that eluded her on the track: an Olympic gold medal.

Obiri is going to be very difficult to beat in Paris. Her NYC and Boston victories have shown she can still close incredibly fast even after navigating significant hills – a vital skill set given the Paris course features a monster hill in the middle. 

And Obiri’s style is well-suited to championship marathon. In her debut at 2022 NYC, Obiri tried pushing the pace at 16 miles but got caught and faded to 6th. Since then, she has stayed patient and essentially turned the marathon into a sit-and-kick, where she has been unbeatable. At this point, she could arguably be the Olympic favorite, but it’s worth noting that she has not raced either world record holder Tigst Assefa (who ran 2:11:53 in Berlin last fall) or Sifan Hassan (who is #2 in history at 2:13:44 and won London and Chicago last year).

Any way you slice it, Obiri is on an incredible hot streak right now. She is just the fourth woman in the World Marathon Majors era (2006-now) to win at least three straight majors.

Brigid Kosgei (4): 2018 Chicago, 2019 London, 2019 Chicago, 2020 London
Irina Mikitenko (4): 2008 London, 2008 Berlin, 2009 London, 2009 Chicago
Peres Jepchirchir (3): 2021 Olympics, 2021 NYC, 2022 Boston
Hellen Obiri (3): 2023 Boston, 2023 NYC, 2024 Boston

Hellen Obiri makes the case for why Sharon Lokedi should be on the Olympic team

Both Obiri and Lokedi were named to Kenya’s six-woman provisional Olympic team that was announced by Athletics Kenya earlier this month. Obiri is a lock to be selected now, but she took time after the race to make the case for Lokedi, who has excelled on tough courses. Lokedi’s three marathon results now read 1st 2022 NYC, 3rd 2023 NYC, 2nd 2024 Boston, with Obiri the only Kenyan to beat her in that span.

“The Paris course is a tough course,” Obiri said. “It’s even tougher than Boston. If we have Sharon as my teammate in Paris, we will have a fantastic women’s race.”

Lokedi threw everything she had at Obiri and while it was not enough to win, Obiri might be the best marathoner on the planet right now. That should factor into AK’s decision making, but Kenya has a lot of options, including defending Olympic gold and silver medalists Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei and 2:14 marathoner Ruth Chepngetich.

44 Year Old Edna Kiplagat 3rd

This was Edna Kiplagat’s first top 3 at a major since she won the 2021 Boston Marathon (after Diana Kipyokei was DQd for doping). Kiplagat has been running really well in 2024. She set a PB in the half in Houston and held up very well vs Lokedi and Obiri today.

The American women’s top 10 finishing streak is over

Emma Bates (12th), Des Linden (16th), Sara Hall (15th)

Today, no American woman finished in the top 10 in Boston. That hadn’t happened since way back in 2010 when Paige Higgins was the top American in 12th. So the American streak of having at least one top-10 finisher in Boston is over after 12 straight Bostons. 

It’s not that shocking that the streak ended today for two reasons. 1) There were 9 women entered in the field with a sub-2:20 pb; 2) It’s an Olympic year and the US Olympic Trials were just held in February.

It’s worth noting that before the streak started in 2011, American women were rarely finishing in the top 10. In the 16 races from 1995 to 2010, an American woman only finished in the top 10 on four occasions at Boston.

Emma Bates was the top American in 12th in 2:27:14 with Sara Hall finishing 15th in 2:27:58 on her 41st birthday and Des Linden taking 16th in 2:28:27. Both Hall and Linden were doubling back from the Trials 10 weeks ago. Bates did not run the Trials after tearing her plantar fascia in October’s Chicago Marathon.

“I’m proud of finishing, I’m proud of being at the start line, I’m proud of pushing myself and the efforts that I put into it,” Bates said. “12th is not quite what I would have expected or hoped for, but that’s kind of the name of the game. There were so many women in the group and it was just kind of a crapshoot at that point.”

In case you are wondering about the men, thanks to CJ Albertson running a PB to finish 7th, an American man has now finished in the top 10 in Boston in 19 straight races. In 2004, Christopher Zieman was the top American in 13th.

Des Linden: The marathon has changed

At age 40, Des Linden, the 2018 Boston champion, knows her best days of marathoning are behind her. She said she hopes she still has a 2:25 in her. 

But there she was during mile 15 of today’s race, leading the Boston Marathon. It was a surprising development considering she had been dropped early in the race.

Des explained after, “It’s pretty miserable when they break away at mile two and you’re thinking like, what’s the point of even being out here? There’s a lot of negative thoughts at that point and you’ve got a long way to go.”

At 10k, Des was 53 seconds behind the leaders, but if there is one thing Des does really well it is run her own race. As the leaders slowed, she started gaining on them and said, “At the start of pulling them in, it was like, okay, this is this is rewarding. There’s some objectives here, and it kind of reminds you that it’s fun to be here. So it changed the mentality for the second half of the race quite a bit, which was nice.”

She would end up in 16th place in 2:28:27.

The crazy thing was that when Des rejoined the lead pack, there were 20 women in it.

This was her 11th Boston Marathon and she said the race today showed how much the entire sport has changed. 

“When you go out the first mile and it’s like 5:07 and you’re in like 23rd place, no one’s afraid of the distance anymore,” she said.

“No one’s afraid to attack, attack the pace and people don’t really fall apart, blow up like they used to. The sport just feels really different. I think 2:28 when I was at the beginning of my career, you’re looking at top 10, [maybe] top 7.”

Des added, “It’s a great thing to see. It’s just crazy having been on both sides of it.”

When asked if she felt it was better training by athletes or the shoes that has changed the game, Des said it was a combination of both. “I think the shoes allow you to train better, allow you to race better, and that just kind of grows and stacks on top of each other,” she said.

When we half joked the marathon might need to become 28 or 30 miles she said, “I wouldn’t be against that.”

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More: Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma Holds On and Wins 2024 Boston Marathon in 2:06:17 After 60:19 1st Half Sisay Lemma dominated most of the Boston Marathon and held on to win the 2024 title by 41 seconds over countryman Mohamed Esa as defending champ Evans Chebet was third. Plus CJ Albertson reacts to breaking 2:10 for the first time and Meb runs Boston 10 years after his win.

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