By David Rogers. April 16, 2018. BOSTON, MA — Highlighted by Tyler Pennel’s fourth place finish in the men’s division of Monday’s rain-soaked Boston Marathon, Blowing Rock’s ZAP Fitness/Reebok elite running team enjoyed arguably its best showing amidst a strong international field.
COVER IMAGE: Tyler Pennel of Blowing Rock’s ZAP Fitness/Reebok team finished 5th in the Elite Men’s Division of the 2018 Boston Marathon. All photographic images courtesy of Matt LoPiccolo and ZAP Fitness/Reebok
Pennel finished the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to downtown Boston in two hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds (2:18:57), three minutes behind winner Yuki Kawauchi of Japan’s 2:15:58, but less than a minute behind second place finisher Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya (2:18:23). Pennel was the second American finisher, only 22 seconds behind third place runner Shadrack Biwott of the USA.
COVER IMAGE: Nicole Dimercurio and Joanna Thompson were recently top finishers in Virginia Beach’s Shamrock Half Marathon. They were 6th and 11th in Boston. Photographic image courtesy of ZAP Fitness/Reebok
This is the first time since 1987 that a runner from Japan has won the men’s open division. Kawauchi was born on March 5, 1987, barely a month before the 1987 Boston Marathon that saw countryman Toshihiko Seiko win.
In the women’s division, Nicole Dimercurio of ZAP/Reebok was sixth in 2:45: 52, while teammate Joanna Thompson was 11th among the women’s elite in 2:48:31.
Americans dominated the front of the Women’s Division. Desiree Linden (2:39:54) and Sarah Sellers (2:44:04) finished 1-2, the first time American women have captured the top two places since 1979 when Joan Benoit and Patti Lyons accomplished the feat. On Monday, American women, including Dimercurio’s sixth place , took seven of the top 10 places. Including Thompson’s 11th, women representing the USA took 12 of the top 15 spots in a race that historically has been dominated by runners from African nations such as Kenya and Ethiopia.
Boston Athletics Association (BAA) is the organization behind the famed long distance race. BAA representative T.K. Skenderian reported to Blowing Rock News that there were 30,039 registrants for the 2018 Boston Marathon, of which 27,048 started the race. Of those that didn’t start, a large majority were probably dissuaded by the torrential rain forecast and high winds, which buffeted the athletes throughout the course. Skenderian reported:
- 2,527 participants were treated across all medical locations. Cold weather was responsible for 95% of all treatments
- 25 elite athletes were treated
- 81 participants were transported to area hospitals, mostly from the course
Linden’s win in the women’s division had an unusual twist. Well into the race fellow American and defending champion Shalene Flanagan fell out of the lead pack to visit a course-side portable toilet. Linden slowed down to wait for her friend, allowing the leaders to get ahead a few hundred yards before Flanagan emerged and re-entered the course. Once she had caught up with Linden, the two worked together, little by little regaining their positions with the lead pack. Once caught, Linden seemed to falter, dropping some 30 yards behind the pack, but only a short while later she made a decisive move that took her to the front, where she stayed.
Kawauchi rocketed to the front early in the men’s race, but the main body of elite runners reeled him in and he seemed to be a non-factor for the middle to late portion of the race. Suddenly, though, he was running away from the field, finishing with about a two and a half minute advantage over second place Kirui of Kenya.