NYC Marathon Takeaways: Sharon Lokedi's MAJOR Upset, Evans Chebet Completes A Kenyan Sweep
Record-setting heat in November for New York City led to some WILD races.
On Sunday, the New York City Marathon returned to full capacity for the first time since 2019 and although the warmer conditions made it tough for runners across the board, the city was alive to celebrate everyone from the 1st to the 50,000th finisher. Kenyans swept the men’s and women’s pro races for the fourth time this year on the World Marathon Majors stage. The women’s race saw a major surprise as Sharon Lokedi, the former NCAA champion out of Kansas, won in 2:23:23 in her debut marathon. 33-year-old Evans Chebet came away with the victory in a wild and unpredictable men’s race in 2:08:41 to complete his Boston-New York title double in 2022. Aliphine Tuliamuk and Scott Fauble were the top Americans on the day.
I just wanted to take a quick moment here to also thank New York Road Runners, ESPN, WABC and Film45 for allowing me to be part of the TV broadcasts. I hope I brought some fun energy and excitement to the viewers at home! A big shout-out to the rest of the CITIUS MAG team working throughout the weekend, including Mac Fleet who produced some video work for our partnership with On, David Melly and Dana Giordano who ran the social channels, and Justin Britton and Johnny Zhang for capturing the best moment on camera.
If you didn’t get enough of me this weekend, I spoke a bit more about my experience behind the mic on the latest CITIUS MAG Podcast episode I just put out with Kyle Merber, who also touches on his experience on the course…
Full results can be found here.
Here are some parting thoughts from the 2022 New York City Marathon…
MEN’S PRO RACE
Daniel Do Nascimento – to put it delicately – didn’t run smart.
In 69-degree weather with more than 80% humidity, he shot off across the Verazzano Bridge at a pace that would have put him in winning contention at the USATF 5km road champs, which took place the day before in Manhattan. I was in the lead vehicle in front of him as he clocked a 4:20 coming down the bridge into Brooklyn and pretty much could’ve high-fived him since he was that close to me. The car I was in let him pass so we could focus on the chase pack, but we certainly didn’t expect him to open up as big of a gap as he did. At one point, he was nearly 2 1/2 minutes up on the rest of the field. He split 28:42 for 10km and 61:22 at halfway, at times running faster than world record pace – unheard of on New York’s course. The first sign of trouble was an 18-second bathroom break at mile 18. He would only make it two more miles before collapsing in the Bronx and that was the end of his day. NYPD officers rushed over to him before he got some medical attention.
We’ve seen some strong racing from Do Nascimento this year with his 2:04:51 personal best in Seoul back in April but we’ve also seen him crash and burn like this before, like when he DNF’d at the Tokyo Olympics. Sunday’s collapse was pretty scary but John Anderson later saw him in the hotel lobby and chatted with him briefly. Do Nascimento told John, “Better next time.” He looked to be in good spirits in a photo shared by NYRR professional athletes director Sam Grotewold.
Evans Chebet cleaned up
The Boston Marathon champion put in a big move on the Queensboro Bridge to break the chase pack up. At first, it looked like defending champion Albert Korir was going to cover it but Chebet, who entered the race with the fastest personal best, pulled away on First Avenue. The only man who ended up clawing his way back into contention was 2020 London Marathon champion and 2018 New York City Marathon runner-up Shura Kitata but it just wasn’t enough. In the last 5K, Kitata was closing but Chebet held on for the victory in 2:08:41 despite the heat and hills in the final miles. Kitata settled for second – just 12 seconds back.
Chebet became the 6th man in history to win the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon in the same year. Coach Claudio Berardelli coached three of the four Major winners this fall as Chebet’s training partners took the wins in London (Amos Kipruto) and Chicago (Benson Kipruto) in the last three months.
He also completed the first Kenyan men’s sweep of all the World Marathon Major titles since 2011 – before Tokyo was added to make it six.
Galen Rupp’s injury woes continue
Right from the gun, Rupp and Shadrack Kipchirchir (who was making his marathon debut and finished 21st overall) were the only two Americans to try and go with the lead pack, comprised mostly of East Africans. When Evans Chebet & co. made their big move to track down do Nascimento going over the Queensboro Bridge, both Rupp and Kipchirchir paid the price. Rupp held onto the pace for longer and looked to be in contention but from my view on the lead truck, he was grimacing a little bit in Queens and was dropped by mile 16. He pulled out of the race on First Avenue.
A tough day for American men all around
With the exception of Scott Fauble, who finished 9th in 2:13:35 in a typically smart race, the U.S. pros struggled in the warm weather and the professional results were littered with large positive splits and DNFs. Reed Fischer and Jared Ward, who finished 10th and 11th, both put in solid efforts – particularly Ward who only managed a 26th-place finish in Boston this spring. But unlike in 2021, where American men put 4 in the top 10 led by Elkanah Kibet’s 4th-place finish, U.S. marathoners were not much of a factor near the front this year.
To give you a sense of just how brutal the conditions were, only four American men ran faster than the 2:18:00 qualifying standard for the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials. The average time of those four (Fauble, Fischer, Ward, and Leonard Korir) was 2:15:54. The average of their personal bests is 2:09:16.
Abdi Abdirahman dropped out of what could’ve been his final New York City Marathon
The 45-year-old, five-time Olympian got a little bit of extra attention on the race broadcast (and a New York Times feature this week) as this was billed as his final New York City Marathon. I’m sure this is not the way he envisioned it going but I wouldn’t put it past him to run Boston in the spring for a little bit of redemption and a better send-off.
WOMEN’S PRO RACE
Sharon Lokedi shocked the world
Lokedi was hardly a household name headed into NYC Marathon weekend, but after her performance Sunday, she’s surely gained a huge new fanbase after winning her debut marathon over a stacked field in an inspiring race performance. Lining up against the likes of 2022 world champion Gotytom Gebreslase, all-time great Edna Kiplagat, and 64:22 half marathoner Hellen Obiri, Lokedi ran smart and tough, reconnecting with the lead group after getting gapped around mile 16, then unleashing a punishing kick over the last 2 miles on the Central Park hills that broke her last two challengers. Lokedi, the 2018 NCAA 10,000m champion for the University of Kansas, has been a solid performer on the track and roads since turning pro, but this was a dramatic leap forward relative to her past resume. It looks like the Flagstaff-based Kenyan may have found her true distance.
At 30km (18.6 miles), Lokedi was 11 seconds back of Obiri, Gebreslase, and 2021 runner-up Viola Cheptoo, but by 35km, she and 2022 World bronze medalist Lonah Salpeter had reeled in the lead pack. As the group entered the park, Salpeter and Lokedi strung out the quartet, first breaking Obiri, then Gebreslase. With around a mile to go, Lokedi overtook Salpeter and although the 2:17 runner would stay within sight, the race for the title was decided. It was a thrilling finish with an unexpected outcome – exactly the kind of race that makes marathoning so fun to watch.
This weekend overall was huge for Under Armour and agent/coach Stephen Haas, as Lokedi’s teammate and training partner Weini Kelati also won the U.S. 5km championships held on Saturday before Lokedi became the first UA athlete to win a World Marathon Major. UA has heavily invested in pro running in recent years through its three major U.S. pro groups (two in Baltimore; one in Flagstaff), and it appears to be paying off in a big way.
Hellen Obiri debuts over 26.2 with room to improve
If you told me on Saturday that a first-time marathoner would win the women’s race at the New York Marathon, I would have guessed 10 times out of 10 it would have been Hellen Obiri – that’s how high the expectations were for the 2-time world 5000m champion, given that she ran the 4th-fastest half marathon in history just 8 months ago. Obiri put together a completely respectable performance in her debut marathon, finishing 6th in 2:25:49. It was really only disappointing when measured against the high bar she’s set for herself.
In the second half of the race, Obiri looked strong, frequently trading off pace-pushing duties through Manhattan with Gebreslase, but as the leaders hit the park with 5km to race, Obiri faded over the hills and ended up getting passed by NYC veterans Cheptoo and Kiplagat. She’ll certainly leave this experience wanting more and running fans are going to be eagerly watching for her next move.
Aliphine Tuliamuk is back and Emma Bates stays consistent
Personal bests were hard to come by out on the course this year, but one runner who improved upon her lifetime best was NAZ Elite’s Aliphine Tuliamuk, who finished 7th overall as the top American in 2:26:18. Tuliamuk, the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials winner, has struggled to stay healthy after giving birth to her daughter Zoe in January 2021, dropping out of the Tokyo Olympics in August and missing training due to an ankle injury as recently as September of this year. But Tuliamuk ran a smart, patient race, hitting halfway in 1:12:18 and hanging on better than most in the hilly second half.
One place behind her, Emma Bates finished 8th in 2:26:53, her third top-10 WMM finish in 3 attempts. Bates’s marathon career has been the picture of consistency so far – she’s never finished lower than 8th or run slower than 2:29 in seven career marathons.
Keira D’Amato finishes a busy year on the roads
Without context, a 2:31:31 15th-place finish for former American record holder Keira D’Amato would seem to be an underperformance – but most professional runners don’t run 4 marathons in one year or 2 marathons 6 weeks apart. D’Amato was all smiles at the finish line after coming back from a 6th-place finish at the 2022 Berlin Marathon to complete her 4th marathon and 14th race of the year. That adds up to 172 miles of racing!
Other stray highlights…
– 2017 NYC champ Shalane Flanagan, currently an assistant coach for both the Bowerman Track Club and the University of Oregon, finished the 2022 race in 3:46:39. Flanagan, who officially retired in 2019, was only running for fun and was candid about her lack of preparation –she wrote on Instagram that her prep consisted solely of two track workouts and a long run. She was running as a pacer for former Bachelor star Matt James.
– Jake Caswell, a Columbia University track and field grad, won the non-binary division with a 2:45:13 in the first year the New York Marathon offered non-binary prize money. Caswell took home $5,000 as the top non-binary finisher in their second career marathon. Runners World’s Chris Hatler put together a nice recap of the nonbinary race which you can read here.
– The New York Marathon often attracts a disproportionate share of celebrity runners. This year’s finishers included actor Ashton Kutcher (3:54:01) and former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton (4:20:34). Major props to my buddy Zac Clark for running to raise awareness for the Release Recovery Foundation, which has raised more than $630K for those suffering with substance abuse and mental health.
– With another Kenyan double victory in New York, Kenya has now taken 10 of the 12 men’s and women’s Abbott World Marathon Majors titles in 2022, sweeping the men’s and women’s crowns in Tokyo, Boston, and Chicago as well.
– Our very own Kyle Merber finished his debut marathon in 2:38:28 after a tough second half. Subscribe to The Lap Count if you don’t already to get Kyle’s on-the-ground perspective from race day straight to your inbox Wednesday morning.
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🙏 Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) and David Melly (@DavidMellyRuns)
Also a major badass race by S Bruce, who proves she has more in the legs and heart, with her last dance.