BOSTON – Deriba Merga of Ethiopia overcame the disappointment of his Olympic fade to win the Boston Marathon, and Salina Kosgei of Kenya won the women's race Monday.
Merga wilted in the Beijing heat and finished fourth after getting passed at the end. But in Boston he pulled away right before Heartbreak Hill and won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 42 seconds — almost a full minute ahead of Daniel Rono of Kenya and Ryan Hall of the United States.
Kosgei won a sprint with defending champion Dire Tune, trading the lead several times in the final blocks of Boylston Street before hitting the tape less than a stride ahead of the Ethiopian in 2:32:16. Kara Goucher of the United States led the three as they crossed the MassPike into Kenmore Square with about one mile to go, but she was outkicked down the stretch and finished nine seconds back.
Kosgei said the conditions Monday made for a difficult finish.
"I decided I must try. So, I tried," she said in a television interview. "The wind was a bit stronger. ... So, it was very hard."
The winners will take home $150,000, but Merga had to wait for his traditional laurel wreath: The women's pace was so slow and the men finished so fast that he crossed the finish line before Kosgei had a chance to climb the champion's podium.
The 2009 race was the slowest since 1985, a pace that had the men's leaders passing the female stragglers and approaching the final mile as the women were hitting the tape.