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Mekonnen Takes Boston Marathon : Kristiansen of Norway Wins Women’s Race

From Associated Press

Abebe Mekonnen missed last year’s Boston Marathon because of Ethiopia’s boycott. Nothing stopped him from winning it today.

Mekonnen pulled away from Juma Ikangaa of Tanzania, the runner-up for the second consecutive year, with about 1 1/2 miles left for a 48-second victory on a warm, sunny day. The winning time of two hours, nine minutes, six seconds is the seventh fastest in Boston’s 93-race history.

Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway, the world’s fastest women’s marathoner and the 1986 winner in Boston, won her race easily in 2:24:33. She holds the world record of 2:21:06. The course record of 2:22:43 was set in 1983 by Joan Benoit Samuelson, who finished ninth in 2:37.51.

Marguerite Buist of New Zealand was a distant second.

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Missed Olympics

Ikangaa, who lost the closest men’s race in Boston history by one second last year to Ibrahim Hussein, was 48 seconds behind Mekonnen in 2:09:54. John Treacy of Ireland was third for the second straight year. His time was 2:10:23.

Mekonnen, who has won six of his last seven marathons, also missed the Summer Olympics, which were boycotted by Ethiopia. He said today’s victory did not make up for that.

“The Boston Marathon is one of the historic marathons, a big marathon,” Mekonnen said through an interpreter, who added: “He’s happy he won but he doesn’t consider it his Olympic race.”

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Ethiopia boycotted last year’s Boston Marathon because it thought a South African would compete.

Mekonnen and Ikangaa began running alone at the head of the field about 18 miles into the 26-mile, 385-yard race. Mekonnen took charge at about 24 1/2 miles.

‘Difficult’ Course

“The course here was very difficult,” Mekonnen said. “It was downhill.”

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Hussein finished fourth.

The top 15 finishers in the men’s and women’s races split prizes totaling $313,500, with the winners of the men’s and women’s competitions getting $45,000 each.

Heading into the testing hills at the 21-mile mark, Ikangaa was a stride ahead of Mekonnen. Treacy was making a move from the pack and was about 100 yards behind the two leaders, who slowed down in the later stages of the race.

At 20 miles, Ikangaa’s time was 1:37:06, 25 seconds faster than the course record for that distance. At 22 miles, it was 1:47:38, only two seconds faster than that distance’s record.

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Hussein was in a pack of four with Ikangaa, Mekonnen and Simon Robert of Tanzania before Ikangaa and Mekonnen began to break away at about 16 miles.

Kristiansen, who led the entire race, was ahead of Samuelson by about one minute at the 12-mile mark. The leading time of 52:47 compared with a course record of 51:38 at that point.

The 1,113 women made up the largest women’s field ever at Boston.

Philippe Couprie of France won the wheelchair race in a world best of 1:36:04. Paul Clark of Canada had the previous fastest race of 1:38:27 last year. The previous Boston mark of 1:43:19 was set last year by Moussetapha Badid of France.

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Winners of the Masters and Wheelchair divisions collect $7,000 each. The wheelchair race began 15 minutes before the rest of the field responded to the starting gun.

The race began beneath a bright blue sky at noon with temperatures too high to suit many marathoners and a field too competitive to yield a clear favorite.

For the first time in three years, the race was undampened by rain.


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