2018 TCS New York City Marathon

Keitany's Unbelievable Second Half, Desisa Pulls Upset | NYCM Takeaways

Keitany's Unbelievable Second Half, Desisa Pulls Upset | NYCM Takeaways

Mary Keitany turned in one of the most impressive performances of her career and Shalane Flanagan backed up her 2017 title with a third-place finish.

Nov 4, 2018 by Kevin Sully
Keitany's Unbelievable Second Half, Desisa Pulls Upset | NYCM Takeaways

Mary Keitany overwhelmed the field with one of the best finishes in marathon history to win her fourth title in New York, while Lelisa Desisa outlasted Shura Kitata and defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor to win a dramatic men’s race. 

For the Americans, Shalane Flanagan ran strong for third to lead three Americans in the top six of the women’s race. Jared Ward showed his form from 2016 with a sixth-place finish, the top U.S. performance in the men’s race.   

Here are some other major takeaways:

Keitany Enters The Negative Split Hall-Of-Fame

Keitany’s second half was breath-taking. After a reaching halfway in 1:15:50, the pace began to quicken in the women's race. Her 14th mile was 5:10, her 15th 5:08, winnowing of a group of nine down to three. But it only got faster from there. 

Her next four miles were 4:57, 4:55, 4:58 and 4:56. By mile 19, Rahma Tusa and Netsanet Gudeta, the Ethiopian tandem who went with her initial surge were toast, losing time with every stride. Keitany’s 5K split from 25-30K was 15:19 and her time from 25-35K was 30:53. Her 19th mile was just a few seconds slower than the men’s leaders at that same point in the course

She crossed the finish lined in 2:22:48, 17 seconds off the course record despite the slow start. She ran the second half of the race in 66:58, an incomprehensibly fast last 13.1 miles even with the pedestrian start. 

In retrospect, it seemed silly to question Keitany’s move. Her margin grew consistently on second place throughout the last 12 miles. Ultimately, Vivian Cheruiyot ran 2:26:02 to finish 3:13 behind Keitany. But since it is Keitany and her career is marked by dominance (This is her seventh World Marathon Major victory) as well as overly ambitious pacing, there was reasons to believe the 16th-mile eruption was too much and she’d sputter when she reached the hills of Central Park. 

The two women that covered the initial move (Tusa and Gudeta) reacted how you’d expect to a low 15 minute 5K tossed into the middle of a marathon. Keitany, though, was indefatigable. She never looked shaken by the pace or worried about a late-race meltdown. 

No Victor, But American Women Show Off Strength In Numbers

With just over two kilometers remaining, defending champion Shalane Flanagan passed Tusa to move into third place. She held that position to the end, running 2:26:22 to finish as the top American. After wins in Boston and New York by Americans the expectations are higher than ever for American women. How do you top ending streaks of 40 and 33 years? 

Sunday’s race called back to a time before the 2017 New York City Marathon, when Flanagan, Huddle, Linden, and others would run well, but just not have enough to get on top of the podium. Many of those races prior to last November were great American performances that ran straight into the Kenyan and Ethiopian depth. 

Today drove home the point of just how difficult it is to win a major marathon. 

How exactly are you supposed to stick with someone who closes in 66:58? 

Keitany and Cheruiyot (who said she was running with a hamstring injury on Sunday), are two of the best in the word. When they are sharp, or close to sharp, it takes a combination of a great preparation, solid race execution and some luck to beat them. 

While an American didn’t get the individual win, collectively they were as good as ever. Molly Huddle took fourth behind Flanagan in 2:26:44. Des Linden was sixth in 2:27:51 and Allie Kieffer was seventh with a 2:28:12. 

Desisa Upsets Kamworor, Top Three Break 2:06:30

The men’s race took on a different form entirely than the women’s race. There was an honest early pace, a thinned out pack and a competitive finish. 

It was Geoffrey Kamworor and Lelisa Desisa in Central Park in the final miles. Kamworor, by virtue of his half-marathon titles and his New York City win last year, was the favorite entering this race. But Desisa made a move in the final mile that completely dropped Kamworor. Shura Kitata, who fell off the pace at mile 24, clawed past Kamworor and shrunk the gap on Desisa. Desisa had just enough, however, and held on for a win in 2:05:59. Kitata was second in 2:06:01, while Kamworor settled for third in 2:06:26. 

Credit to Kitata for helping make the race honest. The early surges might have taken just enough out of him to cost him the victory, but it helped create one of the fastest editions of this race. The top three ran the second, third and fourth fastest times on the New York City course.  

What does this result do to the men’s marathon hierarchy? In short, it’s still Kipchoge, a couple miles of open space, and then everyone else. 

Desisa now has a New York City title to go with his two from Boston. Kitata continues his impressive rise after placing second at this year’s London Marathon. Kamworor didn’t quite have enough today, but he’s still firmly in that second tier with the two above, Mo Farah, among others. Kamworor’s PR is “only” 2:06:12 and I don’t think he anticipated needing to run that kind of race to win on Sunday. He will be better served in a championship-style race or one where the leaders chill a bit more at the start. 

Jared Ward Takes Top American Honors, U.S. Men Still Jumbled

The American men went 6-7-9-10. Jared Ward leading the way in 2:12:24-- the second-fastest marathon of his career-- shouldn’t have been a surprise, but this was his first marathon of 2018 after placing 10th in New York and Boston last year. 

Scott Fauble was seventh in 2:12:28 (a personal best), while Shadrack Biwott (2:12:52) and Chris Derrick (2:13:08) rounded out the top 10. In his debut marathon, Bernard Lagat finished 18th, and the eighth American, in 2:17:20.

With only 15 months until the 2020 Olympic Trials, this race was thought to help sort out the contenders. Instead, we are left with perhaps more questions as Galen Rupp looks like the only safe bet to make the team. Ward and Fauble running 2:12 on a hard course is, of course, a good sign for the Trials. Derrick was only 18 seconds slower than his Chicago debut. Considering the discrepancy in the two courses, that has to be considered a positive sign for him.