Viola Cheptoo was deep into the New York Metropolis Marathon on Sunday when she peered over her shoulder and made a plea to Peres Jepchirchir. The 2 Kenyans have been main the ladies’s race in a decent pack with Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia, and Cheptoo desperately needed to remain on the entrance for so long as doable.
“Could you please help me until at least 35K?” Cheptoo recalled asking Jepchirchir, referring to a checkpoint lower than 5 miles from the end. “She was really nice enough to just go with me.”
A former miler, Cheptoo was making a daring assertion in her marathon debut. Jepchirchir, alternatively, had arrived as distance-running royalty. Simply three months faraway from winning a gold medal in the women’s marathon on the Tokyo Olympics, she now had historical past inside attain: She hoped to develop into the primary Olympic champion, male or feminine, so as to add a New York Metropolis Marathon title to her résumé.
So Jepchirchir saved encouraging Cheptoo — to stay tight, to battle onerous — as they ran facet by facet into Central Park, the place thick crowds cheered for them. In a show of athletic prowess that appeared virtually inevitable, Jepchirchir pulled away for the win in 2 hours 22 minutes 39 seconds, ending forward of Cheptoo in second and Yeshaneh in third.