Victorious Hellen Obiri now targets Olympic gold and Boston hat-trick

Hellen Obiri

Kenya's Hellen Obiri poses with the trophy after winning the women's elite race on April 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

What you need to know:

  • Obiri crossed the line in 2:22:37 to lead a Kenyan podium sweep in the women’s race.
  • Obiri thanked compatriot Sharon Lokedi, who came second, for pushing her all the way.

In Boston

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri has vowed to return to Massachusetts to complete a hat-trick of Boston Marathon victories next year as an Olympic champion.

Her confident declaration after winning Sunday’s 128th Boston Marathon comes as Athletics Kenya selectors are scheduled to whittle down the Kenyan marathon teams to the Paris Olympics after this Sunday’s London Marathon.

Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma broke off early to win the men’s title.

Lemma struggled in the second half after initially running  within Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai’s course record of two hours, three minutes and two seconds, set in 2011, to eventually cross the line in 2:06:17.

Compatriot Mohammed Esa finished second in 2:06:58 as last year’s winner, Kenyan Evans Chebet wrapped up the men’s podium places, clocking 2:07:22.

Chebet failed in his quest to become the first man to win three back-to-back Boston Marathon titles since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot in 2008.

Hellen Obiri

Hellen Obiri of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the women's race during the 2024 Boston Marathon on April 15, 2024. 

Photo credit: Reuters

Chebet won in Boston in 2022 in 2:06:51, then successfully defended his title last year in 2:05:54 – his sixth victory from seven marathon races.

“When I saw Sisay pull ahead, I made a deliberate effort to slow down so that I and the other Kenyans could finish the race as a team,” said the soft-spoken Chebet.

Lemma, the Valencia Marathon’s course record holder, clearly took charge and dominated the race from the beginning leading a highly charged Ethiopian contingent in ruining the Kenyan party.

“My plan here was to run under 2:02:00 but the course was very difficult compared to Valencia,” said the Ethiopian, who dropped out of the two previous races here.

The US-based Obiri crossed the line in 2:22:37 to lead a Kenyan podium sweep in the women’s race with Sharon Lokedi (2:22:45) and 44-year-old indefatigable Edna Kiplagat (2:23:21).

The difficult Massachusetts course seemed to pose very little challenge to the defending women’s champion, who took charge of the race from the initial stages.

Hellen Obiri

Kenya's Hellen Obiri celebrates after winning the Boston Marathon women's elite race on April 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

Obiri is one of four past Boston winners who took part in the women’s race, together with two-time champion Kiplagat, 2015 winner Caroline Rotich and 2018 victor Desiree Linden.

The red-hot Obiri won here last year in 2:21:38.

Speaking to the media after the event, Obiri, the only woman in history to have won senior world titles indoors, outdoors and at cross country, thanked her closest competitor, Lokedi for pushing her.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone that hard, but she was right there next to me and that motivated me to keep going. She is certainly very strong, but I was ready to fight her off down to the last 200 metres,” said Obiri.

“Despite the difference in weather, this year’s race was just as difficult as last year’s and defending a title is not easy. This win has certainly given me extra ‘bonga points’ for the Olympics and returning here next year to defend my title,’’ said the 35-year-old mother of one.

The 2024 edition of the Boston Marathon attracted over 30,000 official participants, including runners from 129 countries and all 50 US states. 

Hellen Obiri

Ethiopia's Sisay Lemma and Kenya's Hellen Obiri with her daughter Tania Blessing Macheche pose with the trophy after winning the Boston Marathon men's and women's elite races on April 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

Notably, this year’s race was held on the same day as One Boston Day, which honours the victims, survivors and first responders of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Warm, sunny weather was a welcome relief for the thousands of spectators who thronged the marathon route from the start line in the picturesque town of Hopkinton.

This is in contrast to last year’s event which was characterised by light rain and cloudy skies.

As is the tradition, hundreds of Kenyans turned up in their hundreds, from as early as 6am, eager to catch a glimpse of the runners as they made their way down to Copley Square.

The population of Kenyans living and working in the state of Massachusetts is estimated at 7,043. Many work in the healthcare and education sectors. 

At the Hyannis Convention Center in midtown Boston, the Kenya Tourism Board was at hand to showcase the magic of Kenya on the sidelines of the marathon.

Hellen Obiri

Hellen Obiri of Kenya winning the Boston Marathon women's race on April 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

According to Wausi Walya, the head of Public Relations and Communications at Kenya Tourism Board, the board has intensified activities to market among others, Kenya’s marathon products such as the Standard Chartered and Lewa marathons.

Visitors to the stand walked away with various giveaways including postcards signed by marathon great Eliud Kipchoge.

On Friday, a well-attended Kenya marathon dinner was held to celebrate and appreciate the Kenyan athletes.

According to the organiser, Faith Chepkwony, the event was meant for the interaction of sportsmen and women who typically have a huge following among the local athletic community.

It was also a chance for the athletes to enjoy home cuisine as they prepared for the races.

“I encourage Kenyans to come out and support the next similar event at the Chicago Marathon,” added Chepkwony.

As the dust settles on another successful Boston Marathon, all eyes now turn to the London Marathon this Sunday.