Losses Inspire Silva, Loroupe to Win Again in N.Y. Marathon
His tender embrace at the finish line and the protective arm he wrapped around her shoulder on the victory stand underscored the poignancy of their triumphs in the New York City Marathon for the second consecutive year.
German Silva and Tegla Loroupe ran not only as defending champions, they ran to keep promises to the dead--to his father, to her sister.
Silva’s victory Sunday in 2 hours, 11 minutes was 21 seconds quicker than last year, when the Mexican made a wrong turn about a quarter-mile from the finish before being redirected by a policeman to beat fellow countryman Benjamin Parades by two seconds in the closest finish in the race’s 26-year history.
This year, Silva beat Paul Evans of Great Britain, who finished second in 2:11:05, with William Koech of Kenya third in a personal-best 2:11:19.
Even though Silva made no wrong turns, there still was plenty of personal drama for the winners, who also overcame record-low temperatures and fierce winds.
Silva, 27, dedicated the race to his 70-year-old father, Agapito, who died of cancer in July. Loroupe, 22, was running in memory of her 33-year-old sister, Albina, who died Oct. 30 after severe stomach hemorrhaging and left behind four children ranging in age from 10 to 1.
Before Albina died, she had wanted Loroupe “to fulfill her responsibility in New York,” and the marathoner had promised not to return home to Kenya until after the race.
“When I was training I could see her face and she was smiling,” Loroupe said. “Even today, she was still smiling. I ran a good race for her, but when I finished, I was sad because when I go home next week I’m going to see the children but not my sister. She gave me a lot of strength and encouragement.”
Silva became the first repeat champion since Italy’s Orlando Pizzolato in 1984 and 1985, while Loroupe became the first woman to repeat since Norway’s Grete Waitz, a nine-time champion, won her fifth in a row in 1986.
Loroupe’s time was 2:28:06--29 seconds slower than in 1994. She was followed by world champion Manuela Machado of Portugal in 2:30:37 and first-time marathoner Lieve Slegers of Belgium in 2:32:08.
Silva said his emotions were the same as Loroupe’s, because of their dual anguish.
“It is something I have in common with Tegla,” he said. “We feel together.
“I was running for my father. He was in my mind. He’s with me everywhere. I was doing this in his memory. When I remember him, he gives me motivation. I’m sure wherever my father is, he’s happy and proud.”
Cold temperatures and strong winds throughout the race made conditions difficult for the field of approximately 27,900 runners.
The competitors zig-zagged through the neighborhoods of the city, beginning on the Staten Island side of the bridge, into Brooklyn, then to Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Then it was back to Manhattan for the final five-mile run into Central Park, with Silva and Loroupe retaining the titles they won a year ago.