Ethiopia had a banner day at the Boston Marathon on Monday, as Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Atsede Baysa won the men’s and women’s titles.
It’s the first time the country has swept the men’s and women’s titles in this historic event, the world’s oldest annual marathon.
Hayle won the elite men’s division in an unofficial time of 2:12:45, completing a podium sweep by three men’s runners from Ethiopia. He pulled away late from the 2015 champion, Lelisa Desisa, with a little more than a mile to go. Desisa finished second in a time of 2:13:32. Yemane Adhane Tsegay finished third in 2:14:02.
“Very difficult,” Hayle said through a translator to CNN affiliate WBZ after he won the race.
With a late charge on the women’s side, Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia came from behind to win her division in 2:29:19. Baysa, who was 37 seconds behind the leaders at mile 21, seemingly came out of nowhere to take the lead. At mile 24, she was by herself with the race in hand.
Through a translator, Baysa told WBZ that she is “very happy” and “very lucky.”
“To win Boston is not easy,” she said.
Tirfi Tsegaye of Ethiopia was second in 2:30:03, while Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui was third (2:30:50).
American Tatyana McFadden won the women’s wheelchair division for the fourth consecutive year, while Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race, defending his 2015 title.
While she crossed the finish line with no other competitors in sight, McFadden didn’t lead the entire way. She admitted after the race in an on-air interview on NBC Sports Network that she got nervous around the fifth or sixth mile before taking the lead in mile nine.
“I just wasn’t catching the rest of the pack as fast as I wanted to,” McFadden said. “But you know what? I just needed to remember why I was running, to stay relaxed. The race is 26.2 (miles), and it’s a long way to go.”
The top American male finisher was Zachary Hine, who finished 10th in 2:21:37. The first American to cross for the women was Neely Spence Gracey, who finished ninth in a time of 2:35.