BOSTON (AP) — Evans Chebet didn’t know what kind of expectations to have for himself as he prepared to return for his second Boston Marathon.
In 2018, he was among many runners who were forced to pull out due to chilly and wet conditions.
His second trip to Boston proved to bring better weather and a result he’ll remember forever.
Under sunnier more spring-like skies, Chebet separated himself with a late-race charge to win the 126th edition of the world’s oldest annual marathon Monday in a time of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 50 seconds.
“On a day like today I just want to thank God. When I came in 2018, my performance was not as good. Today my performance was better,” a smiling Chebet said through an interpreter.
He led a Kenyan sweep across the finish line. The last time Kenya took the top three spots on the podium was 2012. Chebet is the fifth Kenyan to win the race in 10 years.
Lawrence Cherono crossed second in 2:07:21, followed by Benson Kipruto, who was third in 2:07:27. Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay was stride for stride with Chebet late in the race before fading to fourth at 2:07:53.
Scott Fauble was the top American finisher, coming in seventh at 2:08:52. Kenyan-born American Elkanah Kibet was ninth in 2:09:07. C.J. Albertson was 13th in 2:10:23
Cheering fans lined Boston’s downtown route for the race’s return to its normal spring slot on Patriots’ Day. Chebet led a field of more than 28,000 in running the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to the Boylston Street finish line in Copley Square.
It came just six months after the ongoing pandemic limited the marathon to a much smaller field during the only fall edition in the race’s 126-year history.
For the second straight year, Albertson shot to the front of the field at the start and stayed in contention, trading the lead with Kenya’s Bethwel Yegon.
“The only chance for me to really win up there at the top is to break some people,” said Albertson, who led for 20 miles in 2021 before ultimately finishing 10th. “I kind of had the mindset that I’m invincible. You kind of have to think like that.”
Albertson stayed in the mix through Mile 18 when Chebet, Kibet, Yegon and Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor moved to the front.
Chibet and Geay later broke away from a lead pack of about 20 runners as the group emerged from Heartbreak Hill around Mile 22 as Albertson and Yegon fell back. Albertson ultimately crossed 13th.
Albertson said he had the wind to keep up his early pace, but ultimately was done in by muscle tightness.
“It was just super unexpected,” he said. “Coming down that hill, the last five miles everything cramped up.”
Chebet used it as an opportunity to pull away with about four miles to go.
“The coaches told me that when you see other people getting closer to you, you have to shoot out and give them some range,” Chebet said. “I was confident that move would do it.”
Looking over his shoulder with about a mile to go, Chebet widened his lead to nearly 20 seconds on his way to the tape.
“I observed that my counterparts were nowhere near me and that gave me motivation,” Chebet said.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/khightower.