It was three men — Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Lelisa Desisa, and Micah Kogo – with defending champion Wesley Korir just behind as the men hit the 23-mile mark. It was the same three men, with no one trailing, as they hit the 24-mile mark.
They had just run the last mile in 4:36, the fastest of the day, the two Kenyans in front, the Ethiopian less than half a step behind. Kogo was leading, but wasn’t pulling ahead, as he attempted to win Boston in his first-ever attempt at any marathon anywhere.
As they hit Kenmore Square, none had made his move. There was, in fact, less than a mile to go, and still they ran together.
They spread out, finally, as they hit the final turn and Boylston Street, with the 23-year-old Desisa pulling away and Gebremariam behind. And so it was Desisa, reaching the finish line first, winning the Boston Marathon in 2:10:22, his arms raised as he crossed.
It was just the second time Desisa had ever run a marathon.
Desisa joined women’s champion Rita Jeptoo in the winner’s circle. For Jeptoo, it marked her second crown in Boston, and came seven years after her first title in 2006.
In the wheelchair races, Tatyana McFadden of Maryland won the women’s division in 1:45:25. Japan’s Hiroyuki Yamamoto won the men’s wheelchair division in 1:25:32.
In the men’s race, Kogo passed Gebremariam to finish second, five seconds behind the winner, with American Jason Hartmann pulling up in fourth place in 2:12:12, pumping his fist to the crowd as he headed down the final stretch of Boylston. It was Hartmann’s second straight fourth-place finish.
As they had gotten to the Newton hills, it was Dickson Chumba and and Desisa taking the lead, as the pack started to break up. Chumba, who dropped out of last year’s race, did not separate himself, however. Unlike in the women’s race, no one did.
At the 30-kilometer mark, it was five runners in the lead pack: Chumba, Desisa, Gebremariam, along with Kenya’s Levy Matebo and Kogo.
Two former winners, meanwhile, dropped back more than 10 kilometers at that point in Korir, who won the 2012 race, and Deriba Merga, who won in 2009.
But Korir stayed within a few seconds of the leaders, and could be seen just behind them as the men got through the hills and hit the 22-mile mark. He joined the pack again, along with countryman Gebremariam, a real threat at that point. Korir, though, ended up finishing in fifth place in 2:12:30.
For a day with moderate temperatures — in serious contrast to last year’s 80-plus heat — the pace was relatively slow at the start, and sped up as the men hit the Wellesley hills. Still, the pace was well behind Geoffrey Mutai’s 2011 record of 2:03:02.
At the start, it was the North American elite men — the United States’s Hartmann and Fernando Cabada, Canada’s Robin Watson — who jumped ahead of the lead pack, followed by the more likely winners. It was just past the 5-mile mark that the group of Ethiopians and Kenyans caught up and took over from the Americans, led by Markos Geneti, Gebremariam, and Merga.
Watson, whose marathon best is 2:13:37, made a move around the 14-mile mark, opening up an approximately seven second lead on the pack. But by the Newton Lower Falls, Watson had rejoined the rest of the leaders, his advantage evaporating quickly. And about a mile later, Watson had been dropped entirely.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.