BOSTON • A race of more than 42km came down to the final few agonising metres on Monday afternoon as Lawrence Cherono edged out Lelisa Desisa in the closest Boston Marathon finish since 1988, ending the latter's bid for a third Boston title.
On the women's side, the finish was exactly the opposite, with Worknesh Degefa leaving no doubt as she kept her competition out of camera range for most of the race and cruised to a comfortable win.
It was the men's race that brought drama to the 123rd edition as a three-man battle came down to two.
Nearly out of gas as the finish line loomed, Cherono and Desisa duelled with arms and legs flailing, but Cherono had just a bit more left in the tank and won in what was very nearly a photo finish.
The official times: Cherono, 30, of Kenya in 2hr 7min 57sec, two seconds ahead of Desisa, 29, of Ethiopia. Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi, 34, faded over the last 300m and was third in 2:08:07.
It was a gutsy finish by Cherono, who had to be helped by two race officials as he stepped gingerly to the podium for the post-race ceremony.
Afterwards, he said he was "so happy, so grateful" to have won.
"I have never won a major marathon, but I was determined as the race came down to the wire," he added.
Meanwhile, Degefa, a 28-year-old Ethiopian who was running only her fourth marathon, took control of the race after about 6km, moving past American Sara Hall.
With a time of 2:23:31, she easily beat 39-year-old Kenyan Edna Kiplagat, who finished second in 2:24:13, and American Jordan Hasay, who was third (2:25:20).
Degefa and Cherono will each take home US$150,000 (S$203,150) in prize money.