Kenya’s Cherono wins men’s Boston Marathon in sprint to tape

APTOPIX_Boston_Marathon_58486 Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, breaks the tape to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_06713 Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
APTOPIX_Boston_Marathon_11667 Fans cheer on the third wave of runners at the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Boston_Marathon_10169 Daniel Romanchuk, of Urbana, Ill., holds the trophy after winning the men's handcycle division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
APTOPIX_Boston_Marathon_03487 Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, breaks the tape to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
APTOPIX_Boston_Marathon_88105 Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, runs to the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_96355 In this photo combo, Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, breaks the tape in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, to win the men's division, and Worknesh Degefa, right, of Ethiopia, breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_99470 Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, lifts the trophy after winning the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_87085 Worknesh Degefa, left, of Ethiopia, winner of the women's division, and Lawrence Cherono, right, of Kenya, winner of the men's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon, hold the trophy at the finish line on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_57964 Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, hits the tape to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_61758 Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, holds off Lelisa Desisa, right, of Ethiopia, to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_82100 Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, kisses the ground after winning the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_10163 Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, runs the course in the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Wellesley, Mass. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott)
Boston_Marathon_39666 Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, holds the trophy after winning the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_57956 Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_76274 Geoffrey Kirui, of Kenya, leads the pack during the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Newton, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Boston_Marathon_46754 Manuela Schar, of Switzerland, poses with the trophy after winning the women's handcycle division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_61828 Manuela Schar, of Switzerland, receives the trophy after winning the women's handcycle division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_98754 Daniel Romanchuk, of Urbana, Ill., holds the trophy after winning the men's handcycle division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston_Marathon_30492 Jared Ward, of Mapleton, Utah, right, leads the pack ahead of Hayato Sonoda, left, of Japan, and Elkanah Kibet, center, of Fountain, Colo., as they run the course during the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Boston_Marathon_70836 Lukas Chmatal, 35, originally from the Czech Republic and now a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, waits under a tent while it rains before the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott)
Boston_Marathon_79300 Runners wait under a tent while it rains before the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott)
Boston_Marathon_99975 Dustin Martin, of Albuquerque, New Mexico tightens bags around his feet prior to the start of the123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Boston_Marathon_59292 An unidentified runner navigates the flooded athletes village prior to the start of the123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Boston_Marathon_55007 Lawrence Cherono, left, of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, center, and Kenneth Kipkemoi, right, of Kenya, run the course during the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Brookline, Mass.. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Boston_Marathon_54695 Runners race to the finish line in the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston_Marathon_25197 Daniel Romanchuk, of Urbana, Ill., breaks the tape to win the men's handcycle division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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BOSTON (AP) — Two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa turned onto Boylston Street with a sliver of a lead, leaning in front of two other runners with the finish line in sight.

Unfortunately for him, one of them was the fastest man in the field.

Lawrence Cherono needed every bit of his speed to outkick Desisa in a sprint to the tape on Monday, passing him just steps away from the finish line to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes 57 seconds.

Desisa, who won in 2015 and 2013, the year the race was overshadowed by a bombing at the finish line, eased up after realizing he was beaten and finished 2 seconds back. Kenneth Kipkemoi was third, another 8 seconds behind, one of seven Kenyans in the top 10.

“It was no man’s race to win,” said Cherono, who had won in Seville, Prague, Honolulu and twice in Amsterdam but never in a major marathon before. “I kept on focusing. And at the end, I was the winner. I’m so grateful, so happy.”

Worknesh Degefa broke away from defending champion Des Linden and the rest of the women’s pack in the Framingham flats and ran alone for the last 20 miles to claim the $150,000 first prize and a gilded olive wreath from Marathon, Greece.

The 28-year-old Ethiopian, who set a national record while finishing second in Dubai less than three months ago, won in 2:23:31. Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat was second, reducing a gap of more than two minutes to 42 seconds at the finish.

American Jordan Hasay was third and Linden was fifth.

“Seeing Degefa go out — you know her ability, you know what she’s done and you wonder how it translates to this course,” Linden said. “But when she starts putting down those super quick miles, you say ‘All right, this is her race to lose.’ She becomes the outlier and you let her just go and hope that she might come back.”

She didn’t.

Instead, she became the eighth Ethiopian woman to win the race and the third in seven years. A half marathon specialist, Degefa had never seen the Boston course before Monday.

“Last year, I watched all the marathon coverage,” she said. “I kept that in my mind.”

One year after an icy rain and a near-gale headwind resulted in the slowest winning times in four decades, race organizers again prepared for the foul New England weather. But overnight thunderstorms moved on before the runners left Hopkinton; the sun even made an appearance about halfway through.

Linden took advantage of last year’s storm to splash her way to the first win for an American woman since 1985.

But with conditions back to normal, so were the results: East Africans from Kenya and Ethiopia dominating the podiums. At the 30K mark the lead pack was still close to a dozen and included three of the last four champions: Desisa, 2016 winner Geoffrey Kirui and ’17 champ Lemi Berhanu Hayle.

“I was afraid of the guy who won two years ago. After he dropped out, I decided to win,” said Desisa, who did not finish in either of the last two years. “I tried at the last, I saw (Cherono) suddenly, then I couldn’t control the pace.”

A field of 30,000 runners followed the elites, ditching their trash bags and ponchos on the Hopkinton Green before embarking on the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square. It’s the first time the race has been run on April 15 since the 2013 attacks; officials held a ceremony at 2:49 p.m. to honor those killed and maimed by the two pressure cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line.

Daniel Romanchuk, 20, became the youngest-ever men’s wheelchair champion in Boston, finishing in 1:21:36 for the fastest time ever for an American. Manuela Schar won the women’s wheelchair race for the second time, adding it to her titles in in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo.

If she wins in London in two weeks, she will have swept the World Marathon Major series.

“I was just really happy that the weather turned out to be actually really nice,” said Schar, who set a course record in 2017. “When we drove to that starting line, it looked really really bad and I was worried because last year was still in our heads, and I had a really bad experience last year. Today I would say (was) unfinished business.”

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Associated Press Writer Jennifer McDermott contributed to this story from Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

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