Kenya Takes Gold, Molly Seidel Gets Bronze in Women’s Marathon
Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya escaped late in the race to sprint to the gold in the women’s marathon.
Jepchirchir was part of a large group of runners who held on Saturday morning until the end of the match. She then beat another Kenyan runner, Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, who won silver, and Molly Seidel of the United States, who won bronze.
Jepchirchir won in 2 hours 27 minutes 20 seconds. She was 16 seconds ahead of Kosgei and 26 seconds ahead of Seidel.
Officials moved the race in 2019 to Sapporo, 500 miles north of Tokyo, in a futile attempt to escape the sappy heat and humidity that stifled the Summer Games.
Seidel, who only ran his third marathon, won a surprise bronze medal in 2:27:36. She became the third American to win a medal in the Olympic marathon since Joan Benoit Samuelson won the inaugural race at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and Deena Kastor won bronze at the Athens Games in 2004.
A few hours before the start, the marathon was brought forward one hour to 6 a.m. to slightly mitigate the effects of a record-breaking heat wave on Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan where Sapporo is located. But it was swampy at 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with 82 percent humidity. The race started with many runners wearing hats and sunglasses and trying to find tight shadow areas at a careful pace. Many of the 88 participants, perhaps a third of them, are expected to drop out.
The winning time was the second slowest of the 10 women’s Olympic marathons, but the weather didn’t matter on Saturday. Survival mattered. Winning mattered.
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