It is a difficult way to establish one’s street cred. Take over Big Town’s roadways by running 26 miles and 385 yards through the five boroughs. Lay down roughly 23,000 strides. That’s not only a form of first-degree physical effort; that’s also a lot of non-carbon footprints.
Even more proof of authenticity is how the few dozen professionals, the fastest of about 53,000 participants from 129 countries, took on Sunday’s annual Running of the Humans, the 49th New York City Marathon.
It took Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor a mere 2 hours, 8 minutes and 13 seconds to win the men’s division. That’s a pace of 4:54 per mile. Or slightly faster than 12 miles per hour. Yet, not until the 24th mile did Kamworor shake countryman Albert Korir to win by 22 seconds.
“I was comfortable,” Kamworor said. “Throughout the last few meters, the pace was somewhat high, but it wasn’t a problem for me. That’s when I decided to pull away.”
Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei, in her debut marathon, needed just 2:22:38 to win the women’s race with similar drama, finally surging away from four-time champion Mary Keitany in the last two miles. Keitany — the 37-year-old mother of two, 11 years older than fellow Kenyan Jepkosgei —finished second, 54 seconds later.
“I knew she had more experience in the marathon,” Jepkosgei said, “so I was trying to push more, so if a kick would come, I would be ready for it.” Turned out that Jepkosgei kicked first.
Daniel Romanchuk, a 21-year-old member of the University of Illinois’ elite wheelchair racing program, repeated as men’s wheelchair champ in 1:37:24. Switzerland's Manuela Schar, at 34 the current ruler of the women’s wheelchair event, took her third straight New York title in 1:44:20.
Over the miles, the punishing attrition in tackling the marathon distance was playing out. Last year’s men’s champion, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, was motoring along with the lead pack when, at seven miles, he dropped out.
Still, Sunday’s race marked the 19th time in the last 22 years that an African man was New York champion. And the eighth time in the past nine races that an African woman won.
Americans? Utah resident Jared Ward finished sixth in 2:10:45, the second consecutive year he was the top U.S. male finisher in New York. Somalia-born Abdi Abdirahman, 42, a naturalized American who starred at the University of Arizona, was ninth in 2:11:34. BYU’s Connor McMillan was 10th in 2:12:07.
Michigan’s Des Linden, who last year became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years, finished sixth in 2:26:46 despite cold, rain and headwinds. Linden had made a couple of bold early moves, opening large leads in the fourth and 10th miles.
But when Jepkosgei and Keitany threw in a 5:16 mile, more than 15 seconds faster than the leaders’ group had been averaging, Linden and everyone else fell back into a chase pack for the last 13 miles. Now 36, Linden isn’t sure if she will take on the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in February.
“Right now’s not the time, just based on how my calves and feet feel,” she said. “Check back at 1 a.m., maybe.”
Long Islanders? West Islip-raised Allie Keiffer, who set a world indoor marathon record in 2016, was fifth here in 2017 and seventh last year, dropped out at the 12-mile mark.
Behind those drum majors who led the parade — way behind — the thousands and thousands nevertheless legitimizing themselves as runners continued to plod, ramble, trek and jog deep into the afternoon. Establishing street cred.