26.2 Parting Thoughts From The 2023 Boston Marathon
All you need to know from the action at the 2023 Boston Marathon - full report and results.
Folks, I’m still on a high from that epic Boston Marathon. It did not disappoint. We had a Kenyan sweep with Evans Chebet and Helen Obiri emerging as the champions of the day, stunning their competitors and fans alike with their impressive performances. It was an unforgettable day. Thanks to the 30,000+ people who tuned in and watched along with us on the CITIUS MAG Boston Watch Party. You can catch a full replay of that here.
Let’s dive into what happened…
1. Evans Chebet May Be The Best Marathoner In The World Right Now
Last year, a few people scoffed at the graphic we made when we asked whose year you’d rather have: A) Eliud Kipchoge’s Tokyo Marathon win and the world record or B) Evans Chebet’s Boston and New York City Marathon victories. Today, we got a battle between them, which did not disappoint. It was clear that Chebet and training partner Benson Kipruto (the ‘22 Chicago Marathon champion) knew they had some advantage with past experience on the course. Chebet hammered off Heartbreak Hill and then threw down a 4:37 for Mile 22. That was the nail in the coffin for Kipchoge. Chebet’s biggest worry after that was his training partner and Gabriel Geay but he managed to hold on to win in 2:05:54. That was the third-fastest time in the 127-year history of the race and the first back-to-back champion since 2008. On our watch-along, Kyle asked whether Chebet should be considered the Olympic gold medal favorite now? He’s won three consecutive World Marathon Majors so I’d say, yes.
2. Hellen Obiri Gets Her Marathon Moment
On went big with their marketing around Hellen Obiri in the leadup to the New York City Marathon. There were billboards saying, “Don’t know Hellen Obiri? You will.” She went on to finish 6th in 2:25:49 and was disappointed. This time around, there was less hype and she was in a much better headspace. She was no longer apart from her family like she was in the weeks leading up to New York. She spent a good chunk of time training in Boulder working on her fueling. She drew up a race plan with coach Dathan Ritzenhein to be a bit more patient and make sure she got her bottles down and it all worked. Obiri made her break with two miles remaining in the race and showcased some of that speed that won her world championship and Olympic medals on the track to win in 2:21:38. She took down the deepest Boston Marathon field in history. Hellen Obiri has arrived as a marathoner. Look out!
Hear from coach Dathan Ritzenhein below:
3. Emma Bates Talked The Talk And Walked The Walk
I tried using “ran the run” in that analogy and it didn’t work. On Friday, Emma Bates blew me away when she told me she sees herself as a 2:18/2:19 woman right now. She insisted that her training and some of the data from recent lactate testing pointed toward that. I don’t care how much we’ve advanced with AI, data can’t run marathons for you. She backed it up and stayed with the leaders through 23 miles. At times, it looked like she could win. She entered the day with a 2:23:18 personal best from last summer’s World Championships and finished the day with a top American finish in 5th place in 2:22:10. She was just eight seconds shy of becoming the fastest American woman to ever run Boston. Bates has solidified herself as one of the best American marathoners right now…and she’s ready to try and make herself the fastest ever.
“I won’t say I’m not gonna go for the American record in the fall. That may be on our radar now.”
4. Scott Fauble Is Mr. Consistent
Make it three top American finishes for Scott Fauble in Boston and three 7th place finishes. Today, he trusted his record and experience on the course to not attack the first half as boldly as the lead pack of men who went out in 62:19. He was one minute and 40 seconds back at the half but still running strong. While many of the people came back to him in the second half, Fauble was ready to close hard. He made up four places in the final mile. I was obviously biased in picking Fauble as top American because he was once a CITIUS MAG podcaster and a friend but I’m very happy to see his recent success. That’s now three top American finishes in his last three marathons. He’s racing smart and this all bodes well for the ‘24 Trials.
5. What Happened To Eliud Kipchoge?
Sometimes the best athletes have a bad day.
Kipchoge didn’t speak with the media but shared the following statement following the race:
“I live for the moments where I get to challenge the limits. It’s never guaranteed, it’s never easy. Today was a tough day for me. I pushed myself as hard as I could but sometimes, we must accept that today wasn’t the day to push the barrier to a greater height. I want to congratulate my competitors and thank everyone in Boston and from home for the incredible support I am so humbled to receive. In sports you win and you lose and there is always tomorrow to set a new challenge. Excited for what’s ahead.”
There was no injury cited in there. Kipchoge told reporters that he didn’t change much up in training for the race. He simulated the Boston Marathon course on a hilly road in Kenya but he never made the trip stateside to do any sort of recon. I did think that it was interesting to see Kipchoge being the one up in the front pushing the pace early but that also could’ve come as a result of people deferring to him to really make the race. Chebet and Kipruto seemed to have no problem with him taking the wind to the face and making it fast.
So will he run New York after this? We’ll have to wait to hear what’s next. He wanted to try and win all six World Marathon Majors and then try to defend his Olympic gold medal in Paris. It was too perfect of a script. It’s back to the writer’s room for Kipchoge and the NN Running Team on the best course of action. Chebet will likely be waiting in New York as the reigning champion so we could get that delicious rematch. No man in history has beaten Kipchoge twice in the marathon.
6. Amane Beriso Is Good At The Marathon
Obiri was able to shake off everyone but Beriso on Boylston Street. Beriso entered the race with the fastest personal best after running 2:14:48 at the Valencia Marathon last December. We joked that we’d find out whether that was for real or not. It was real. She ended up finishing second in 2:21:50. This was her first World Marathon Major since 2017 but we’ll get used to seeing her at the front of these races now.
We’ll move through the next 20 in short sentences…
7. Get familiar with Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay. He was 7th at last summer’s World Championships and then ran 2:03:00 to finish second at the Valencia Marathon. He was second today in 2:06:04.
8. Aliphine Tuliamuk Ran A PR. It was a good day for the reigning U.S. Olympic Trials champion as she dropped her personal best from 2:26:18 to 2:24:37. She had mixed feelings after the race but sounds like she will run another marathon before the next trials.
9. Zouhair Talbi Nailed His Debut. The former NAIA legend was fearless in his marathon debut. He went with Kipchoge, Chebet, Kipruto and men with sub-2:05 personal bests like it was just another race. Talbi told me he was comfortable for most of the race and seems to be done with the track. With the 2:08:35 fifth-place finish, he has an Olympic qualifying mark for the Paris Games but will need to back up the performance for Morrocco to select him for the team.
10. Albert Korir Is Back. The 2021 New York City Marathon champion had a rough go in 2022 but fares well in races without pacers. Fourth place in 2:08:01 is a step forward.
11. Nell Rojas Dropped Her Personal Best. Goes from 2:25:57 last year in Boston to 2:24:51 with today’s 14th-place finish.
12. Matt McDonald’s Confidence Is Up. The BAA’s own finished 10th in 2:10:17. That’s his second-fastest marathon behind his 2:09:47 personal best from last year’s Chicago Marathon. It’s also an improvement from his 2:10:35 in Boston last year. We chatted about how he’s been able to manage his training for this race while balancing his post-doctorate research at MIT to try and make exploration for new chemicals and new molecules autonomous using machine learning.
13. Lonah Salpeter Is Due For A Win. The World Championship bronze medalist has now finished on the podium in each of her last four marathons. She has not won a World Major since her 2:17:45 win at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon but she’s still a force on the women’s marathoning scene.
14. Benson Kipruto Happy For His Teammate. When I chatted with him after the race, Kipruto was smiling because Chebet held on to win. He was excited when they managed to break Kipchoge. It sounds like Kipruto wants to try and run the World Championships if selected by Athletics Kenya. Regardless, he will go to Chicago to defend his title from 2022.
15. Erika Kemp Makes History. In her marathon debut, the two-time U.S. champion ran 2:33:57 to become the fastest American-born Black woman. The previous best was 2:34:14 by Samia Akbar at the 2006 New York City Marathon. In case you missed it, we featured her in a video and asked her about this before the race.
16. Ababel Yeshaneh Must Listen To Chumbawamba. She got knocked down and then got back up again…AND still finished 4th in 2:22:00.
17. If Betting Was Allowed, Chebet Would’ve Won People Some Money. Chebet would’ve paid out 10/1.
18. Marcel Hug Owns Boston. The Swiss star won the men’s wheelchair race for the sixth time in his career and set a course record of 1:17:06.
19. Susannah Scaroni Persevered. The American was forced to pull over to the side of the road and pulled out tools to fix a loose wheel but was able to hold on and win her first Boston Marathon title in 1:41:45.
20. Another Rough Go For Joyciline Jepkosgei. The former half marathon world record holder has now struggled at this race in back-to-back years. Today, she was 12th in 2:24:44 – one second slower than last year and the slowest marathon of her career.
21. Sara Hall Solid. After dealing with an IT band injury earlier in the year, Hall managed to finish as the fourth American woman on the day but 17th overall in 2:25:48.
22. One To Forget For Ben True. Last year, Ben True missed a chance of running his second marathon due to illness right before the New York City Marathon. He ran 2:16:06 for 23rd place.
23. Anna Rohrer Finishes 22nd With Bib No. 617. The former Notre Dame star was running with the first wave of runners and was able to put together a very strong race to run 2:30:52.
24. Des Linden Completes Boston Marathon No. 10. The 2018 champion got some good cheers and celebrated with fans after running 2:27:18. That’s faster than her 2:28:47 in Boston and 2:32:37 in New York last year.
25. What’s This All Mean For The Men’s Trials Picture? I do think Scott Fauble and Conner Mantz have put themselves in a “strong contenders” category with their recent performances. Fauble has taken super well to Joe Bosshard’s training and knows how to compete among his fellow countrymen on the biggest stages. Mantz proved he isn’t afraid to go beyond just being top American and although he paid the price today, he still has a fast time to back up his marathon chops from Chicago. From there, it’s wide open but there are still many months for new people to throw their names in this category.
26. What’s This All Mean For The Women’s Trials Picture? As Kyle noted on the broadcast, it’s hard to see three other American women beat Emma Bates at the trials. There are a few question marks out there with Emily Sisson, Keira D’Amato and Molly Seidel all withdrawing from spring marathons due to injuries but they can’t be discounted. They have plenty of time to get back to 100%. Aliphine Tuliamuk can’t be overlooked as the reigning champion, who has only gotten better. The person we’re not talking enough about is Betsy Saina, who secured her Paris qualifying mark at the Tokyo Marathon last month.
26.2 I Need To Qualify For Boston. I love doing the alternate broadcast with the CITIUS MAG team but Boston Marathon weekend is the ultimate motivator to get myself back to marathon training this summer. My personal best is still 3:06:04 from the 2019 Berlin Marathon and I haven’t trained to PR in years. I’ll likely spend the next few months on the track to get my speed back but I’m hoping to give sub-3 a crack this fall. Might need a late-season marathon since we’re going to be busy with travel and coverage in July and August with USAs and Worlds.
Thanks for following along with CITIUS MAG’s coverage of the 2023 Boston Marathon. Did I miss anything? Email me and let me know. If you’ve got comments or thoughts, feel free to share them with me.
Many thanks to Brooks Running for supporting our storytelling efforts throughout the past few weeks.
🙏 Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez)