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Kenyans Are Dominant Again

April 16, 2002|From Associated Press

BOSTON — Kenyans are back on top of the Boston Marathon, reclaiming a winning tradition that's now as much a part of the race as Heartbreak Hill.

Rodgers Rop won the men's event Monday by three seconds over Christopher Cheboiboch, and Margaret Okayo set a course record for women in defeating two-time defending champion Catherine Ndereba.

All are from Kenya, whose 10-year winning streak among men was broken last year by Lee Bong-ju of South Korea, who was fifth Monday and the first non-Kenyan to cross the finish line.

"The Kenyans are very happy. Last year, I was not happy," Rop said. "Before running, I said, 'We have to reclaim our title.' It's become a tradition in Kenya to win Boston, so I had to try my level best to win."

As he crossed the finish line, Cheboiboch embraced Rop.

Rop finished third in his only other marathon, in New York last November. Okayo won the women's race there.

Her winning time Monday was 2 hours 20 minutes 43 seconds, defeating Uta Pippig's course record of 2:21:45 set in 1994.

Ndereba finished in 2:21:12. Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia was third in 2:26:01. It was Ndereba's first marathon since she won the Chicago race last year in a world-best 2:18:47 on a flatter course.

Rop won in 2:09:02. Cheboiboch's time was 2:09:05. They were followed by Kenyans Fred Kiprop and Mbarak Hussein. Both finished in 2:09:45 with Kiprop getting third.

The winner on the hilly Boston course was almost three minutes behind the world record of 2:05:38 set on a flatter and faster London course Sunday by Khalid Khannouchi.

Hussein is the brother of Ibrahim Hussein, who started Kenyan's dominant decade by winning in 1991.

The top American finisher, Keith Dowling of Reston, Va., finished 15th in 2:13:28. Jill Gaitenby of Northampton, Mass., was the first U.S. woman across the finish line, finishing 13th in 2:38:55

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