NEW YORK – Geoffrey Mutai likes his chances in any championship-style marathon.
The Kenyan has turned in two eye-popping performances in seven months in races without pace-setters after he shattered the course record in the New York City Marathon on Sunday. He figures to be the favorite at next summer’s London Games.
Mutai’s performance was no surprise after he ran the fastest marathon ever earlier this year. Firehiwot Dado wasn’t a favorite coming into the women’s race and victory seemed impossible with even a few miles left. But the Ethiopian made a stunning comeback for her first major marathon title.
Mutai finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds, crushing the previous mark of 2:07:43 set by Tesfaye Jifar of Ethiopia a decade earlier.
In April, Mutai ran the fastest 26.2 miles in history: 2:03:02 in Boston. It didn’t count as a world record because the course is considered too straight and too downhill.
With little wind on a cool, sunny day, the conditions were perfect for fast times. The second- and third-place finishers also broke the old course record. Fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai (no relation), the London Marathon champ and course-record holder, ran a 2:06:28. Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia was third in 2:07:14.
Defending champ Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia was fourth.
Dado trailed London Marathon champ Mary Keitany by nearly 21/2 minutes at the 15-mile mark but passed her with about a mile left. The 27-year-old Dado won in 2:23:15 – almost a minute better than her previous personal best.
“Because she’d been running so fast from the very beginning, I didn’t imagine that we’d catch her,” Dado said.
Fellow Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba, who lives in the Bronx and enjoyed vocal support, was second for her first podium finish at a major marathon, four seconds back. It was the second-closest women’s finish in the race’s history.
Keitany was third, 23 seconds back. The Kenyan pulled away right from the start and was well under course-record pace for much of the race but faded badly over the final miles.
The 30-year-old Mutai earned $200,000 for winning and setting the course record. Dado took home $170,000.