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BOSTON – Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won his second Boston Marathon on Monday, two years after he donated the medal from his first victory to the city in memory of the bombing victims.
Kenya's Carolina Rotich was the women's champion, outsprinting Mare Dibaba down Boylston Street to win by 4 seconds.
When Desisa took first in 2013, there wasn't much time to celebrate. Hours after he crossed the finish line, two bombs exploded on Boylston Street and turned his victory into an afterthought. As the city mourned the three killed and 260 wounded in the explosions, he returned to Boston to donate the medal.
Now Desisa has a Boston title he can enjoy.
The 25-year-old Ethiopian won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 17 seconds to beat Yemane Adhane Tsegay by 31 seconds. Kenya's Wilson Chebet was third, another 34 seconds back.
Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford, Michigan, was the first American, in seventh. Defending champion Meb Keflezighi of San Diego was one spot behind him a year after he became the first American men's champion since 1983, galvanizing the city behind him as a symbol of patriotism and resilience.
Two years after the explosions, the race took a tentative step back toward normal.
"Boston Strong" was still ubiquitous -- on shirts and signs, and shouted by spectators. But the crowds along the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Copley Square were smaller than last year, no doubt thinned by the mid-40 temperatures that came coupled with a stiff wind and rain that was expected to pick up in the afternoon.
With many of the runners wearing long sleeves and gloves to fight off the cold, American Desiree Linden led for much of the women's race, and fellow U.S. Olympian Shalane Flanagan was also in the pack through the midpoint. But Flanagan dropped back around Mile 18, and Linden fell off the pace in the final miles as Rotich and Ethiopians Mare Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba pulled away.
With Deba, the runner-up last year, falling behind at the final turn onto Boylston Street, Rotich and Dibaba ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the final quarter-mile, switching places before Rotich kicked into the lead for her first Boston title. The 30-year-old Kenyan won in 2:24:55, with Deba another 6 seconds behind Dibaba.
Linden finished fourth, and Flanagan was ninth.
The men's pack also seemed destined for a sprint to the tape before Desisa left Tsegay behind. Desisa and Rotich will collect $150,000 for their wins.
American Tatyana McFadden won her third straight women's wheelchair race, and Marcel Hug won his first men's title earlier Monday. Ernst Van Dyk, the most decorated Boston Marathon competitor in history, finished second in his attempt to win the race for an 11th time.