By the 23-mile mark, the women’s marathon was still anyone’s race, as five runners jockeyed for position down the final stretch. They were so close that Ababel Yeshaneh fell after clipping another runner’s foot.
Hellen Obiri, a 33-year-old Kenyan, led that group for most of the way, often checking around to see where her competitors were. She briefly fell behind the pack at points, but ultimately held the group off to win the women’s race in 2 hours 21 minutes and 38 seconds.
Obiri, who was competing in just her second marathon, showed her speed with about a half-mile left in the race, pumping her arms hard and leaving the rest of the group behind her. Obiri finished sixth in the New York City Marathon last year, her only other race of this distance. She won the New York City Half Marathon on March 19.
After that race, Obiri moved to Boulder, Colo., with her husband, Tom Nyaundi, and their 7-year-old daughter, Tania, to train. Obiri said she was anxious about racing in Boston, unsure how she would match up with the talented field.
“It’s a surprise to me,” Obiri said with a smile, her daughter standing next to her. Obiri said her daughter motivates her, and often peppers her with questions like, “You can’t be number one?”
“So I try to make them happy,” Obiri said, “because sometimes I don’t want to go, but something tells you to try to keep on fighting. So I kept on fighting.”
Amane Beriso of Ethiopia finished second, and Lonah Salpeter of Israel finished third.
Yeshaneh, who finished second in this race last year, recovered from her fall and at moments looked as if she could win, but she faded away at the end, finishing fourth.
American Emma Bates, who was a part of the group at Mile 23, could not keep the pace at the end of the race, finishing in fifth place.