NEW YORK — Geoffrey Mutai successfully defended his New York City Marathon title today when the race returned after a one-year absence.
Fellow Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo came from behind to win the women’s race, with Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba finishing runner-up for the second straight time in her hometown event.
Fans again packed the 26.2-mile course, undaunted by the events of the past year. The 2012 NYC Marathon was canceled because of the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, but not before many New Yorkers were enraged by the initial plans to hold the race.
Security was heightened after the bombings at April’s Boston Marathon. Bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the course, and barricades limited access points to Central Park.
Mutai pulled away around Mile 22 and beat Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede by 52 seconds. On a windy morning, Mutai’s time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 24 seconds was well off his course record of 2:05:06 set in nearly perfect conditions two years ago. He’s the first man to repeat in New York since Kenya’s John Kagwe in 1997-98.
Kebede, the London Marathon champ, clinched the $500,000 bonus for the World Marathon Majors title. South Africa’s Lusapho April was third.
Jeptoo trailed Deba by nearly 3½ minutes at the halfway point. But she started making her move as the race entered Manhattan and passed the Ethiopian with just over 2 miles to go.
Jeptoo, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2013 London Marathon Champ, won in 2:25:07 to clinch the $500,000 World Marathon Majors bonus.
The women’s race played out almost identically to the last NYC Marathon two years ago. But this time, Deba was the pursued, not the pursuer.
In 2011, Mary Keitany pulled away to a big early lead, and Deba and countrywomen Firehiwot Dado chased her down. Dado, who won that day, was 14th Sunday as the defending champ.
This time, Deba and training partner Tigist Tufa separated themselves right from the start. Deba wound up finishing 48 seconds behind Jeptoo, while Tufa was eighth.
Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia, the 2005-06 New York champ, placed third at age 37.