Boston: Kenya's Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot smashed the course record to win the Boston Marathon men's race, while Ethiopia's Teyba Erkesso captured the women's title by a few steps in a sprint finish.
In favourably cool conditions with a light wind, Cheruiyot, clocked two hours, five minutes and 52 seconds as he crossed the finish line, holding off Ethiopians Tekeste Kebede and defending champion Deriba Merga.
Cheruiyot said he wanted to stick with Merga, who broke from a large pack of men's runners at mid-race.
"If somebody is a champion, you try to go with them," said the 21-year-old, who broke Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot's previous course record of 2:07:14 set in 2006. The two are not related.
Ryan Hall led at the halfway mark before finishing fourth in 2:08:41, the fastest time for an American man.
"My goal going into the race were to have fun and to run free," Hall told reporters.
In the women's race, Erkesso built a big lead going into the final few miles but was reeled in by Russia's Tatyana Pushkareva, which set up a furious sprint down Boston's Boylston Street to the finish line.
Erkesso won by three seconds in 2:26:11. Last year's winner, Kenya's Salina Kosgei, was third.
The Ethiopian said she attempted to drive the pace from the start, fearing that other runners had stronger finishing kicks.
"I knew the Russian lady was coming from behind me. 'She doesn't pass me today,' I'm thinking in my mind," Erkesso said. "I didn't believe I would win it until the very end."
The winners will each receive USD 150,000, and Cheruiyot will get another USD 25,000 for setting the course record.
African men have won 19 of the past 20 editions of the 26.2 mile (42.2 km) race from Boston's hilly suburbs to its centre.
First Published: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 09:05