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Kenyans Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel won the 2011 Boston Men’s and Women’s Marathons in 2:03:02 and 2:22:26, respectively. Mutai’s time set a new world record by nearly a minute, smashing Haile Gebrselasssie’s 2008 Berlin Marathon finish of 2:03:59 (though given that the Boston Marathon includes downhills and tail winds, the record is officially “unofficial”). Despite the record time, both races were finished in a suspenseful fashion that is coming to characterize the Boston Marathon lately; only a combined six seconds separated the second-place finishers of both divisions from the winners.
In a year of high hopes for the Americans, who have not won either division since 1985 (Lisa Larsen Weidenbach), they were certainly close to winning, but fell just short. On the men’s side, Ryan Hall set a new record for all Americans with a time of 2:04:55, but finished fourth behind Mutai, Moses Mosop of Kenya, and Gebregziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia. On the women’s side, Desiree Devila of Michigan finished in second place, just 2 seconds behind Kilel. Devila was greeted with chants of “USA! USA! USA!” as she turned onto Boylston Street from Hereford Avenue just ahead of Kilel, where she had been for the majority of the race, but was passed 200 yards from the finish line. Her time is also a record for American women.
Hall led the men’s pack from early on, but fell off the pace at Heartbreak Hill, and Mutai and Moses composed the two-man pack from Brookline onwards. They ran shoulder to shoulder down Beacon Street, practically sprinting down Boylston. Mutai managed to pull away just enough, winning his Boston debut by 4 seconds.
The men’s wheelchair division was also full of suspense as only 1 second separated first place Masazumi Soejima from Kurt Fearnley and nine-time winner Ernst van Dyk. Soejima finished in 1:18:50, while Wakako Tschida gave Japan the sweep in the wheelchair events, finishing in 1:34:06.