Evans Chebet of Kenya won the Boston Marathon on Monday as the race returned to its traditional Patriots’ Day spot in the schedule for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The men’s lead pack of about 20 winnowed to two as it came out of Heartbreak Hill, then Chebet pulled away from Gabriel Geay of Tanzania with about four miles to go to win in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 50 seconds.
In the women’s division, reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya won in 2:21:01, 4 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh. The two traded places eight times in the final mile, with Jepchirchir pulling ahead for good in the final 385 yards.
American Daniel Romanchuk won his second career men’s wheelchair title in 1:26:58. Switzerland’s Manuela Schar won her second straight Boston crown and fourth overall, finishing in 1:41:08.
Sharing a weekend with the Red Sox baseball home opener — the city’s other sporting rite of spring — more than 28,000 runners returned to the streets from Hopkinton to Copley Square six months after a smaller and socially distanced event that was the only fall race in the marathon’s 126-year history.
Fans waved Ukrainian flags in support of the few dozen runners whose 26.2-mile run from Hopkinton to Copley Square was the easiest part of their journey. Athletes from Russia and Belarus were disinvited in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainians who were unable to make it to Boston were offered a deferral or refund.
“Whatever they want to do, they can do,” Boston Athletic Association President Tom Grilk said. “Run this year, run next year. You want a puppy? Whatever. There is no group we want to be more helpful to.”
The 125th race was first postponed, then called off because of the pandemic — the first cancellation since the event began in 1897. In 2021, it was as postponed until October.
This year’s race marked the 50th anniversary of Nina Kuscsik’s victory as the first official women’s winner. (The actual first woman to finish the race was Bobbi Gibb, who first ran in 1966 among the unofficial runners known as bandits.)
Valerie Rogosheske, who finished sixth in 1972, said she had been planning to hide in the bushes and run as a bandit before women got the go-ahead a few weeks before the race. She ran this year with her daughters and served as the honorary starter for the women’s elite field.
“There was just this feeling of, ‘Boy, we’re going to do this. No one can drop out. There are eyes upon us,'” she said Monday about the 1972 race. “Many people didn’t think we should be running a marathon. So that’s why we really felt that pressure but opportunity as well to finish this marathon.”