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deriba merga
Elise Amendola/AP
Mens winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia reacts at the finish line at the 113th running of the
Boston Marathon.

Deriba Merga and Salina Kosgei Win Boston Marathon, Americans Goucher and Hall Third

April 20, 2009 03:01 PM
by Liz Colville
Braving 40-degree temperatures and wind, the elite men and women of the 113th Boston Marathon experienced two very different races.

Ethiopia and Kenya Reign Supreme

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Deriba Merga of Ethiopia started to pull away from the men's lead pack in the latter half of the 113th Boston Marathon, despite the fact that the men had started at—and maintained—a blistering pace as the course became more challenging and legs began to weaken.

There was no evidence that Merga was feeling it. With temperatures in the low 40s and windy conditions, the 28-year-old finished in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 42 seconds, edging out Daniel Rono of Kenya and Ryan Hall of the United States, Reuters reported, and claiming the $150,000 purse bestowed to both the male and female winners. Hall had led for much of the race and may have suffered from fatigue and a brisker wind in the latter half.

The women had a starkly different race. The pace was slower than normal and the pack was tight. The 2008 winner Dire Tune of Ethiopia and the 2008 New York City Marathon third-place finisher Kara Goucher of the United States clustered together with Salina Kosgei. Goucher led, and in the last couple of miles, their gap from the rest of the pack grew. In the final straightaway, Tune and Kosgei pulled away from Goucher, with 32-year-old Kosgei edging out the reigning champion by one second, finishing in a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes, 16 seconds. It is by far her biggest accomplishment so far; she placed tenth in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics.

Boston is the first race of the World Marathon Majors 2009 series. Returning champions Robert K. Cheruiyot of Kenya and Dire Tune of Ethiopia fought for repeat victories in a pool of the world’s best. Tune fared well, but Cheruiyot finished fifth.

Hall, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., had the fastest qualifying time by eight seconds, but was not protected from the windy conditions as he led the pack from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Goucher, of Portland, Ore., who like Hall is an Olympian, let the tears flow at the finish as she was consoled by her husband, fellow professional runner Adam Goucher. Goucher entered the marathon off an impressive indoor track season. In the press conference following the race, the AP quoted her as saying, "I'm proud of how I did. I just wanted to be the one that won for everybody."

Background: Boston Marathon fast facts; pro marathon training

The 113th Boston Marathon features more than 26,000 runners covering a challenging 26.2-mile course that includes the infamous Heartbreak Hill, an uphill stretch during miles 19 to 21. Athletes who want to run the Boston Marathon must qualify with a time from another recent marathon; this makes the field one of the most competitive for regular runners.

The race directors of the world’s five major marathons may argue over which marathon is the greatest among Chicago, New York, Berlin, London and Boston, but there’s no arguing over the fact that more press are in attendance at the Boston Marathon than any U.S. sporting event save for the Super Bowl. The event welcomes around 500,000 spectators each year.

Visit the Boston Athletic Association’s “Marathon Milestones” section for a list of notable events and achievements from Boston Marathons past.

Running a marathon in two hours and change

Just what kind of preparation does it take to run a marathon in 2:06:17, Ryan Hall's qualifying time for Boston? Hall runs as many as 140 miles a week and for Boston, he added more 10- to 18-mile tempo runs to his schedule. These are rehearsals for the marathon that are run at marathon pace (which for Hall is under five minutes per mile) at altitude in California. As coach Terrence Mahon told USA Today, the goal with longer tempo runs is for Hall to get “the legs to be able to bang it all the way to the finish line."

In the days before the marathon, Hall did a workout of a several mile repeats, building from above marathon pace to below it, followed by a handful of 400-meter repeats. His pre-race meal is pasta with olive oil and a Cytomax protein shake. Tapering, Hall told Time Out Chicago, can actually be the hardest part of marathon training, leaving him both energized and restless. “I often think to myself when I am tapering, ‘So this is what it feels like to be a normal person.’”

Reference: Web Guide to Running; Boston Marathon results

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