April 21, 2004 at 3:06 am #1419
BOSTON (AP) _ Catherine Ndereba’s next marathon will be similar to her last one.
Ndereba turned her sights to the Olympic marathon Tuesday, one day after winning the Boston Marathon for the third time. Considering that the Boston course was modeled after the route from Marathon to Athens first run by Pheidippides in 490 B.C., her win here can only help her confidence.
“It’s like a pre-Athens. That’s how I consider it,” she said. “The run was just like a long run in my preparations.”
Temperatures that climbed to 85 degrees were expected to slow the field, but Ndereba finished in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 37 seconds. Timothy Cherigat won the men’s race in 2:10:37 to complete a Kenyan sweep.
Ndereba matched a women’s record with her third victory and got to be the first runner across the finish line thanks to a change in the race format that sent the female contenders off 29 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
“The elite women’s start went off without a hitch,” race director Dave McGillivray said.
Ndereba, already a two-time Boston winner and the reigning world champion, ran together with Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia for about 10 miles before breaking away in the last mile. The 16-second gap matched the closest women’s race in the event’s history.
The Olympic marathon will begin at 6 p.m. to avoid the midday sun. But it is still expected to be hot in a city where the average August temperature is 88 degrees.
Ndereba said she won’t visit the Athens course until she runs it, but she’s shown she can handle the hills and the weather _ hot or cold. She set a world record in Chicago in 2001 on a crisp morning with temperatures in the low 40s.
Monday’s race was the hottest since 1987 and it rekindled memories of the 1976 “Run for the Hoses,” when the temperature hit 96 degrees and fans sprayed the course with water to cool the competitors.
Despite the heat, 93 percent of the 18,002 who started the race at noon were able to finish before the clocks were turned off at 6:20 p.m. A total of 2,041 people sought medical attention, half on the course and half at the finish line medical tent; 300 of those were foot injuries and most of the rest had heat-related problems.
About 160 people were transported by ambulance to hospitals, and eight to 12 were admitted overnight. No information was immediately available on their condition, Boston Athletic Association spokesman Jack Fleming said.
The numbers are higher than in previous years, but McGillivray said they “aren’t shocking.”
“We were constantly reminding the runners to slow it down and run sensibly. For the most part, they did so,” McGillivray said. “Part of it’s knowing, going in, what you’re dealing with. The element of surprise is what’s going to wreak havoc.”
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