Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenyan Caroline Rotch won the men’s and women’s categories, respectively, of the 2015 Boston Marathon held on Wednesday. Both Desisa and Rotch won $150,000 in prize money, a medal each and wreaths of olives for their achievements. Desisa had also won the 2013 Boston Marathon, which was rocked by two massive bombs that killed three and injured 264 people.
In 2013, Desisa was unable to celebrate his win publicly in the aftermath of the bombings that struck towards the end of the race. He had given away his winners' medal back then to honour the victims, but he was in a much more celebratory mood this time.
"This medal, I think, is for me," Desisa said to ESPN.
He finished with a time of two hours, nine minutes and 17 seconds, after staying in the leading pack for most of the race and then pulling away from fellow Ethiopian Yemane Adhane Tsegay to take the win. It’s the first time the country’s had a 1-2 finish at the marathon. Kenya’s Wilson Chebet was third, over a minute behind Desisa.
In the women’s section, Caroline Rotch edged Mare Dibaba by just four seconds to claim top honours at one of the world’s biggest marathons. She was also the fifth straight Kenyan women to win in Boston. Dibaba’s fellow Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba finished third after losing momentum in the last mile of the race.
Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 champion, finished eighth this time. He struggled at the end, throwing up multiple times after a water break gone wrong, but with the support of an enthusiastic Boston crowd, he joined hands with one of the last runners from the women’s’ race and completed the run.
Boston Athletic Association spokesman Jack Fleming was thankful towards both Desisa and Keflezighi after the run, even interrupting the winners’ conference to place Desisa’s trophy on the table.
"In 2013, Lelisa had won and we were sitting in these same chairs. And then soon after, and unfortunately, Lelisa did not get to have the kind of victory celebration that a champion of the Boston Marathon should have. Lelisa, we want you to get your due today," he announced at the conference, as reported by ESPN.