Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi and America’s Desiree Linden ended long droughts for their countries with stunning victories in a wet and windy Boston Marathon on Monday.
Kawauchi ran down defending champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya to win in two hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds. He is the first Japanese man to win the event since 1987.
Linden, winning her first marathon, ended 33 years of frustration for American women to prevail in 2:39.54 as runners, many clad in rain tops, endured heavy rain and temperatures in the 40s (4C).
An American woman had not won the historic race since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.
The 31-year-old Kawauchi, known as the citizen runner because he also has a full-time job, overtook Kirui in the closing mile after the Kenyan appeared to have the race in hand, leading by more than a minute at times.
But the Japanese runner, who has competed in more than 80 marathons and led in the early stages of the race, always stayed in contention before taking control around the 25-mile mark.
“I never gave up,” Kawauchi, who became the first Japanese runner to win the Boston race since Toshihiko Seko, told reporters.
“I knew he was up there. I could see him. I ran my own race and I ran him down.”
Regarding the weather, he added: “For me, these are the best conditions possible,” Kawauchi quipped after the race.
Kirui took second place in 2:18.23 with American Shadrack Biwott third in 2:18:35.
US Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp, the 2017 Boston runner-up, did not finish.
Linden, 34, surged past Kenya’s Gladys Chesir at 35km and pulled steadily away,
“I’m thrilled to be here and get it done,” Linden, who had finished second in 2011 and fourth last year, told reporters.
“I love this city and this course,” she said of the race where she made her marathon debut.