2010 Boston Marathon Recap: Cheruiyot, Erkesso Win

Boston Marathon, 2010 Boston Marathon, Robert Cheruiyot

Robert Cheruiyot at the 2010 Boston Marathon. (Photo: By Gr5 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a new Robert Cheruiyot in town. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, a 21 year-old upstart from Kenya, won the 114th Boston Marathon, shattering the course record by 82 seconds in the process. The previous course record holder? None other than Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, an unrelated Kenyan who won the Boston Marathon four times in 2003 and 2006-2008.

“I tried to show my talent,” Cheruiyot said immediately after the race. And he certainly did.

The new course record of 2:05:52 is also a personal best for Cheruiyot, whose age and performance was reminiscent of another young marathoner who burst onto the scene in 2008 with a gold medal win at the Beijing Olympics: Sammy Wanjiru, who was also just 21 at the time. In an event like the marathon where runners are often in their late 20’s to late 30’s, these two Kenyans may start a new trend of younger runners giving the distance a shot.

It was a beautiful 49-degree day in Massachusetts with a 13 mph wind. Two Americans were out for glory in the men’s race, but it wasn’t to be. Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. finished fourth and fifth respectively. Hall, who finished third last year, missed the podium by 2 seconds, but posted the fastest time in the race’s history for an American.

Ethiopian Tekeste Kebede finished second and last year’s champion Deriba Merga of Ethiopia finished third.

In what seemed like a repeat of last year’s race, Hall got out front right away and took an early lead, seemingly breaking the wind for the rest of the pack. At times, he was a full stride ahead—a worrisome move because the winner of a marathon rarely leads early in the race.

At the 5-kilometer mark, Merga surged ahead and Keflezighi moved up front with him taking the lead. But before long, Hall was once again ahead of the pack. At one point, Hall and Keflezighi were talking to each other, both of them grinning from ear to ear. Both wearing USA singlets, the two sometimes train together in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

By 48 minutes in, Hall had fallen back from the pack, Merga had surged ahead and Keflezighi was hanging in there with the lead pack. It looked like Merga was making a strong move, but was it wasn’t one he could sustain.

After 55 minutes, Hall was back in the race with the lead pack and took the lead once more. But he fell away again after an hour when Merga, Cheruiyot and the rest of the lead pack broke away. The lead pack had dwindled to seven men including Keflezighi. It looked like Hall was out of it.

Just before the hour and a half mark, Merga and Cheruiyot pulled away from the rest of the pack, running what looked like a two-man race. And at the 1:53 mark, Cheruiyot broke away from Merga and cruised to the finish line for the win. Merga fought off a charge from the chase pack and just barely hung onto third place, while Hall and Keflezighi surged to climb back into the top five.

The women’s race once again came down to mere seconds. Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso won the race after opening up an early 90-second lead. But Russia’s Tatyana Pushkareva slowly chipped away at that gap, ending in a sprint finish. Erkesso edged Pushkareva by 3 seconds.

At 1:35 into the race, Erkesso broke away from the pack and was running alone. But after 2 hours, Pushkareva came within sight as Erkesso slowed down. Pushkareva actually smiled and waved at the TV cameras, looking like she was going for a leisurely jog.

With one mile to go, Pushkareva was only 16 seconds back from Erkesso. With 600 meters to go, she was still 14 seconds back. Then 10 seconds. Then 8 seconds. Then 6 seconds. 5 seconds. Meter by meter, she seemed to be catching Erkesso. But Erkesso held her off and won by 3 seconds, the third-closest finish in Boston history. Last year’s champion, Salina Kosgei, finished third.

There were 26,735 entrants in Boston, the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. Runners must qualify for the race by achieving stringent race times that are determined by age and gender. Only 10.4 percent of all marathon finishers—this year from 18 to 83 years old—qualify for Boston. Runners from all 50 states and 81 foreign countries participated in the race.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


04 2010