Kenya’s Cherono, Ethiopia’s Degefa win in Boston Marathon debuts

The 123rd Boston Marathon almost needed a photo finish.

In the closest finish in the men’s race since 1988, Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono, making his Boston Marathon debut, held off two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia to barely clip the finish line tape first. Cherono was two seconds ahead, in a time of 2:07:57. Right behind in third place was Kenneth Kipkemoi of Kenya, in 2:08:07.

Desisa won this race in 2013 and 2015.

Scott Fauble and Jared Ward were the top-finishing American men, in seventh and eighth, respectively. The last American man to win in Boston was Meb Keflezighi, in 2014. He was the Grand Marshal for this year’s race.

Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia won the women’s race, taking the lead at mile 4 and never relinquishing it. As she approached the finish line, she waved to the cheering crowd. Her time was 2:23:31.

This was Degefa’s Boston Marathon debut. In January, she ran the fourth-fastest marathon ever (though she didn’t win that race), turning in a time of 2:17:41 at the Dubai Marathon.

Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, the 2017 champion, finished second in 2:24:13. American Jordan Hasay finished third, matching her place from 2017, in 2:25:20. Hasay missed the race last year because of a foot injury.

Desiree (Des) Linden, who last year became the first American woman to win Boston since 1985, finished fifth Monday. She was trying to become the first American woman to win back-to-back Boston Marathon titles since Sara Mae Berman won three in a row from 1969-1971.

Daniel Romanchuk became the first American to win the men’s push rim division since 1993. At 20 years old, he is also the youngest to win the event. On the women’s side, Manuela Schär of Switzerland won Boston for the second time. She set the course record in 2017.

There was another notable finisher, as NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson finished in a respectable 3:09:07. His performance comes after finishing 12th in the 400-lap Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway in Virginia on Saturday.

“That was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, what an experience,” Johnson said Monday in a tweet.

There had been some fears for severe weather, but it overall cooperated. At the starting line in Hopkinton, the temperature was 55 degrees with light rain and 11 miles-per-hour winds.