Lawrence Cherono won the 2019 Boston Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Monday (15th) running defensively and only seized the lead from two-time Boston champion Lelisa Desisa in the last strides of the race, his clocking of 2:07:57 to Desisa’s 2:07:59 not really capturing how close their finish actually was.
Lawrence Cherono came to Boston with the fastest PB in the field (2:04:06 from Amsterdam in 2018), and like Degefa that mark came from a race almost as a different from Boston as indoor track is from cross country.
Unlike Degefa, Cherono opted to rely on his closing speed, or at least to choose caution over confidence in the early miles. The early men’s pack, as often happens in Boston, was large and sprawling, and didn’t get really serious about hard racing until they left Wellesley and started climbing through Newton. It wasn’t until the 24th mile, too close to the finish for the 5km splits, that the pack narrowed to three.
At that point, there wasn’t a whole lot of waiting still happening. Desisa, whose wins and losses in Boston starting in 2013 have built an emotional connection between the young Ethiopian and the city of Boston, seemed to be recruiting every muscle from his feet to his teeth to hang on to Cherono and Kenneth Kipkemoi, who eventually finished third in 2:08:07. After the trio made the right turn from Commonwealth Avenue on to Hereford Street with barely a kilometer remaining, Desisa made a bid for the win, turning left onto Boyleston street with a running stride of lead. Slowly, though, Cherono pulled even, and in the last strides to the line Desisa’s legs gave out and Cherono broke the tape.
It was an unexpected result for at least one runner. “Personally, I am poor in finishing,” admitted Cherono. “But today I did my fantastic job. It was no man’s race to win, I am so grateful and so happy.”
“I was happy to have a plan, and up until the end I controlled everybody,” said Desisa. “I was watching [2017 champion] Geoffrey Kirui, and after he dropped off, I decided to go for it. When I saw Cherono leading, I felt in my mind I couldn’t control the pace any more, and because of that I am number two.”
“This year I came back to Boston like a champion,” added Desisa. “I am happy. I will come back.”
Kirui was fifth in 2:08:55. 2018 champion Yuki Kawauchi finished seventeenth in 2:15:29, 29 seconds faster than his winning time last year.
Two-time Boston Marathon champion (1979 and 1983) Joan Benoit Samuelson, the winner of the inaugural Olympic marathon for women in 1984, finished in 3:05:18 on the 40th anniversary of her first win here. After announcing a goal of finishing within 40 minutes of her winning time (2:35:15) in the race which first established her as a top marathoner, Samuelson reached it with just under 10 minutes to spare.
Parker Morse for the IAAF