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Tanui, Roba Both Win Second Career Boston Marathon Titles

Timothy Dunn--Technique
Moses Tanui celebrates his victory Monday in the Boston Marathon.

By Shao-Fei Moy
Sports Editor

In one of the most exciting finishes ever, Moses Tanui edged out fellow Kenyan Joseph Chebet by three seconds to win the 102nd running of the Boston Marathon on Monday. With 200 meters remaining, Tanui overcame Chebet with a blistering kick to capture his second career title.

"Today, I think it was my day," said Tanui, after coming back from a quarter mile deficit to win the race in 2 hours 7 minutes 34 seconds. "I think this is one of the best victories for me."

Tanui, the winner of the centennial race in 1996, held back early in the course. "I tried to stay with the leaders, [but] the pace was a little too fast," he said. It wasn't until the 23 mile mark that Tanui made his move on the lead pack consisting of Chebet, Gert Thys and Andre Ramos. With a little less than two miles remaining, Tanui caught up with the pack as Ramos dropped off.

"When I got to Chebet, I was a little tired." However, Tanui was still able to match Chebet stride for stride down the stretch as Chebet attempted to pull away. It wasn't long before Thys fell off the pack, making it a two man race.

Coming off the last turn at Hereford Street, Chebet held a slight advantage. But with 200 meters left, Tanui was able to pull away from Chebet. "I sprinted and there was no response, so I won the race," said Tanui.

"The only problem I had was that I had no kick in the last kilometer," Chebet stated. "I pushed it very much to the limit. But at the last, I had no kick."

Tanui's win marked the eighth straight year that the Boston Marathon has been won by a Kenyan, just one shy of the record held by the Americans from 1916 through 1925. Tanui's time was also the third best in course history. Finishing behind Tanui were Chebet in second (2:07:37), Thys in third (2:07:52), Ramos in fourth (2:08:26), and the New York City Marathon winner, John Kagwe in fifth (2:08:51).

Two notable runners that were unable to finish the race were Kenyan Cosmas Ndeti, a three-time winner at the Boston Marathon, and Dionicio Ceron, last year's third place finisher. Ndeti dropped out after suffering stomach pains and Ceron injured the inside of his right leg after stepping on a bottle at a water station.

The women's open division did not carry as much drama as Fatuma Roba from Ethiopia annihilated the field to repeat as Boston Marathon champion. Roba, despite suffering pain in her right leg, never looked back after mile 16 when she pulled away from Colleen De Reuck. Roba finished with a personal best time of 2 hours 23 minute 21 seconds.

"I'm very happy to win a second time," said Roba after finishing nearly four minutes ahead of second place finisher Renata Paradowska (2:27:17) of Poland. "It was actually not an easy race. I felt a slight pain at the beginning of the race." Had the pain not been there, "I could have finished in 2:20, 2:22," Roba estimated.

Anuta Catuna (2:27:17) finished third and Manuela Machado (2:29:13) got fourth place. De Reuck (2:29:43)dropped from an early lead into fifth place.

In the men's wheelchair division, defending champion Franz Nietlispach of Switzerland ran away with his third career win by posting a time of 1 hour 21 minutes 52 seconds. Louise Sauvage of Australia won the women's wheelchair race in a photo-finish, barely beating out Jean Driscoll with a time of 1 hour 41 minutes 19 seconds. Sauvage rallied from about 1,000 meters behind to beat seven-time champion Driscoll by less than a length.

MIT was well represented in this year's Boston Marathon. Jesse Darley G finished among some of the elite runners, placing 47th overall with an official time of 2 hours 29 minutes and 50 seconds. Matthew Debski '99 also posted a very respectable time of 2 hours 49 minutes and 27 seconds, 428th overall. "Most people don't think that running 26.2 miles is fun, but the Boston Marathon was," said Debski.

These feelings were shared by several other student runners. "The Boston Marathon is special because of the crowd support that can't be matched by any other marathon," stated Aaron Wong '98 who finished with an unofficial time of 4 hours 1 minute. "A lot of my friends laughed when I said I would run the Marathon, so I just wanted to prove it to them and myself that I can do it."

Kira Marciniak '99, in her second year running theBoston Marathon finished in 4 hours 21 minutes, a full hour better than her performance last year. "The only thing that gets me through is the crowd cheering," she said.

The Boston Marathon, in its 102nd season, is the oldest and one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. It is also the second biggest single-day sporting event - only the Super Bowl is larger.