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Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Kenyans sweep in Boston heat

Temperature soars to 85 degrees during annual marathon

April 20, 2004

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— Weakened by the heat and a mile-long sprint to the finish, Catherine Ndereba had to receive her winner's medal and olive wreath in a wheelchair.

As for the traditional bowl of beef stew, she took a pass.

It was much too hot for that.

Ndereba won the Boston Marathon for the third time Monday, running together with Elfenesh Alemu for 10 miles before sprinting away in Kenmore Square to finish in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 27 seconds. The 16-second margin of victory matched the closest in the history of the women's event.

"Toward the finish, I felt like I was dead," said Ndereba, who collapsed to the pavement at the finish line, where it was 85 degrees. "All of the sudden, I had all those cramps and I could not stand. ... The heat was too tough. So I was going out there knowing I had to run very smart."

Timothy Cherigat won the men's race in 2:10:37 to complete a Kenyan sweep. He broke away from Robert Cheboror right before Heartbreak Hill to win by 1:12 as Kenyan men took the first four spots and six of the first seven.

A Kenyan man has won 13 of the last 14 Boston Marathons, and the country is so deep at the distance that Cherigat is not on the Olympic team despite winning the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon.

"It is sad because the team has already been chosen," he said. "I will wait for my time, and it will come."

For the women's field, the time came on Monday.

"It is so great and we have all the room," said Ndereba, the reigning world champion who won here in 2000-01. "We have all the road to run wherever you feel like."

The two ran side-by-side and alone together for about 10 miles before reaching Kenmore Square -- one mile to go -- where Ndereba sprinted into the lead. Alemu, suffering from back pains and cramping, did not have the energy to respond.

"Catherine sped up, but I slowed down because of the pain in my back," Alemu said. "I wanted to improve my time, but the heat and the wind wouldn't allow me to do that."

Ndereba's time -- the 11th-best for a woman at Boston -- was fast for a tough course and one of the hottest races in the event's 108-year history. But it was temperate compared to the 96 degrees reached in the 1976 "Run for the Hoses."

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