This is Justin Lagat’s feature on the 2024 Boston Marathon, the 128th edition of the race. Justin filed this piece remotely and, as a senior writer for Kenya, provides RunBlogRun the stories with context on events that have a Kenyan connection to our sport. 

In two separate versions, Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma and Kenya’s Hellen Obiri fought quality elite fields to emerge victorious at the 2024 Boston Marathon.

One of the lessons that Lemma might have learned from his past races at the Boston Marathon was that it is better to struggle to maintain a lead at the end of a marathon than to close the gap on a runner ahead. The lesson learned was demonstrated when he made a bold move early in the race and ran solo at the front from 5km of the race to the finish line, where he crossed at 2:06:17.

Sisay Lemma and Hellen Obiri, winners of Men’s elite and Women’s elite, 2024 Boston Marathon, photo by Kevin Morris

As they watched the TV screens, Kenyan fans scrutinized Lemma’s body language to see if there were any glimmers of hope as he kept increasing the gap against the four chasers: John Korir, Evans Chebet, Albert Korir, and Cyprian Kotut. The gap reached 2 minutes and 49 seconds at around the 30K.

It wasn’t until around the 33km mark that Lemma began to show signs of slowing down a bit, and the rest of the chasing pack started gradually closing in on him. At the 37K, the gap was 1 minute and 44 seconds, then down to 1 minute and 30 seconds at the 38K point. But, it remained to be seen whether the remaining duo of Chebet and Korir would still find enough ground to gain on the Ethiopian. Would 2 km close the 1-minute and 20-second gap at 40K? It wasn’t.

Hellen Obiri defends her title from 2023 with back-to-back wins, taking the 2024 Boston Marathon photo by Kevin Morris.

In the last 1 km, Korir and Chebet began to fade as another Ethiopian, Mohamed Esa, came to overtake them to finish second behind Lemma in 2:06:58. The defending champion, Chebet, held on to finish 3rd in 2:07:22.

Top American women, Emma Bates, 12th, Sarah Hall, 15th, Des Linden, 16th, photo by Kevin Morris

In the women’s race, which began some minutes after the men’s race, it was as though Edna Kiplagat had wanted the drama in the men’s race to die down first before she suddenly stunned everyone by sprinting to the front at around 35K, making it another exciting race to watch. At 44 years old, no one expected her to be leading a platinum marathon in the last stages.

The women’s race had been relatively slow through the first 35 km, with about 12 runners crossing the point in 2:00:48. But, after Kiplagat’s surge, three women soon remained in the leading pack.

However, with a secure podium, Kiplagat was content watching the fierce battle between Obiri and Sharon Lokedi ahead of her.

Obiri and Lokedi ran much of the remaining 3km together before Obiri began to open a little gap ahead with about 500m to go. She went ahead to defend her title in 2:22:37. Lokedi followed for second in 2:22:45 ahead of Kiplagat in 2:23:21.

Jenny Simpson, 18th place, 2;31.29, Bank of America Boston Marathon, photo by Kevin Morris,