The 127th Boston Marathon was just as exciting as the registered participants and spectators alike predicted.
Like almost every Boston Marathon, this year’s running of the oldest annual marathon in the world took place on Patriot’s Day—Monday, April 17, 2023.
There are several reliable factors you can always count on with the Boston Marathon: you will see some of the fastest elite runners in the world, the course will be 26.2 miles and meanders the streets from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Boylston Street in Boston, and there will be amazing stories of the indomitable human spirit and the gutsy performances that can come when the most determined athletes take to the course.
Another predictable “unpredictable factor” is the weather.
April in New England can be fickle.
Some Boston marathon Mondays are scorching summer-like days.
This year, just three days before the marathon, temperatures were in the mid-90s, when the monthly average high is usually between 51-61 degrees.
Then, there was the infamous 2018 Boston Marathon which saw unseasonably frigid temperatures, howling winds, and driving sleet and rain like a late-season nor’easter.
This year, for the 127th Boston Marathon, the weather was dreary and rainy.
Temperatures were in the low-50s, which is actually fairly ideal for distance running, but the early morning rain continued to pick up throughout the day and made for a wet and soggy race.
But, while the weather plays more of a substantial role in the memories of some Boston Marathons, and this year’s weather did indeed affect race conditions, what most people will remember about the 2023 Boston marathon is not so much the weather but the exciting race performances.
Notably, there was a huge upset in the men’s race.
Those plugged into the elite running scene were likely anticipating watching Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic champion, marathon world record holder, and arguably the greatest marathoner in history make his long-awaited Boston Marathon debut at this year’s event.
Kipchoge was not only gunning for the win, but he was also reportedly chasing after the Boston Marathon course record.
However, though Kipchoge almost always seems to be extremely reliable and commandeering on the race course, it was not his day and another champion broke the tape at the iconic Boston Marathon finish line.
The 2023 Boston Marathon men’s winner was Evans Chebet.
Chebet won two of the World Marathon Majors last year: Boston and the New York City Marathon.
The race was rather predictable through the half.
Kipchoge led the way, pacing the front pack of nine men through the 13.1-mile mark in 1:02:19.
The rain and humidity showed their effects here because even though the elite field was stacked with the world’s fastest marathon runners, the Boston Marathon course record was off the table by the halfway point.
With a half marathon time of 1:02:19, the projected finish time for the top group surged to about 2:04:37 and 2:04:39.
The Boston Marathon course record is 2:03:02, a time set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.
Although it is possible to run a negative split marathon, in which you run the second half of the race faster than the first, this is rather uncommon in the elite field during the Boston Marathon since the second half of the race is where runners encounter the bulk of the uphills while the first half sees some significant declines.
Although there was some shuffling among the leaders of the top pack in the early part of the second half of the race, the biggest breakaway in the marathon occurred around mile 19.
Here, Gabriel Geay threw in a definitive surge, which caused a significant shake-up in the pack.
Most notably, the move saw Kipchoge falling behind in the Newton Hills.
By mile 20, the lead pack had put 16 seconds on Kipchoge and had whittled down to Geay, Benson Kipruto, John Korir, Chebet, and Andualem Belay.
Over the final six miles of the race, the lead kept switching between Chebet, Geay, and Kipruto.
However, with less than a mile to go, Chebet pulled away for the last time, breaking the tape for the second consecutive year. In doing so, Chebet became the first runner on the men’s side to defend his title in 15 years.
Chebet finished in 2:05:54. Tanzanian runner, Geay, was eight seconds back to finish second in 2:06:04, and Kenyan Kipruto finished in close third place, with a time of 2:06:06. Kipruto was the 2021 Boston Marathon Champion.
Kipchoge finished several minutes back in 2:09:23, but managed to take sixth place.
The first American runner in the men’s race was Scott Fauble, who finished seventh in 2:09:44.
Kenyan runner Hellen Obiri took the crown In just her second marathon ever.
As such, not unlike many Boston Marathons, the 127th Boston Marathon was a good showing for Kenyan elite runners, with the men’s and women’s champions both hailing from this East African nation.
Obiri, who actually made a last-minute decision to run the race, dominated the competition, winning the 2023 Boston Marathon in a time of 2:21:38, which was 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Amane Beriso.
Obiri made her marathon debut just last year at the 2022 New York City Marathon, where she finished sixth.
Her victory at the 2023 Boston Marathon not only improved upon her finish place (and prize purse!), but also her time.
Just last month, she won the New York City Half Marathon in 1:07:21.
Obiri is a former 5,000-meter track star, and clearly, her leg speed paid off in the Boston Marathon. She finally put decisive distance on the other podium contenders in the final mile of the race, pushing a pace that allowed her to break away and ultimately break the tape.
Earlier in the race, the women’s lead pack was a group of 11 women who started to emerge as the front runners around the half.
The group was led by Angela Tanui, and included other pre-race favorites, including Amane Beriso, Gotytom Gebreselase, and Obiri.
The top women cruised through the half-marathon mark between 1:11:29 and 1:11:30.
American runner Emma Bates also had a strong showing, especially in the later, hillier stages of the race, where she actually led the pack at 25K, 30K, and the 20-mile mark.
It wasn’t until the final two miles that the women’s race saw the biggest break, with Obiri, Beriso, Ababel Yeshaneh, Lonah Salpeter, and Bates edging ahead of the chase pack.
However, Obiri pulled from her track background to ultimately win the race in the final kilometer.
As mentioned, she won in 2:21:38, while Beriso finished in 2:21:50, and third place went to Lonah Salpeter, who ran 2:21:57.
Bates was the top American runner, earning a fifth-place finish in a time of 2:22:10.
In the wheelchair races, familiar champions took the top places.
The men’s world record holder and Swiss athlete, Marcel Hug, broke his own Boston course record, en route to his sixth Boston Marathon victory.
Hug dominated the entire race, winning in a time of 1:17:06, improving on his own 2017 course record of 1:18:04 by almost a minute.
This record-setting performance earned Hug a bonus of $50,000 on top of the $25,000 prize for winning the race.
In the women’s wheelchair race, Susannah Scaroni won her third consecutive World Marathon Majors title, after winning both the Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon in 2022.
Scaroni led the entire race after pulling away from the competition in the first several miles.
Despite needing to stop and adjust her wheel during the race, she still decisively clinched the women’s wheelchair title in 1:41:45.
Overall, the 127th Boston Marathon lived up to the hype of being an all-around exciting day.
You can find the full results of the 2023 Boston Marathon here.
Check back in with the Marathon Handbook Newswire section for coverage of the London Marathon this week.