Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei completed a Kenyan clean sweep in the men's and women's races at the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon to pick up their first major titles.

Benson Kipruto, left, and Diana Kipyogei, right, both of Kenya, celebrate at the finish line after winning the men's and women's division of the Boston Marathon in Boston on October 11, 2021.
Benson Kipruto, left, and Diana Kipyogei, right, both of Kenya, celebrate at the finish line after winning the men's and women's division of the Boston Marathon in Boston on October 11, 2021. (AP)

Kenya's Benson Kipruto has won the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon when the race returned from a 30-month absence with a smaller, socially distanced feel and moved from the spring for the first time in its 125-year history.

Although organisers put runners through Covid-19 protocols  and asked spectators to keep their distance on Monday, large crowds lined the 42.16-kilometre (26.2-mile) course from Hopkinton to Boston as an early drizzle cleared and temperatures rose to the low 60s for a beautiful fall day.

They watched Kipruto run away from the lead pack as it turned onto Beacon Street with about three miles to go and break the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds. 

Diana Kipyogei won the women's race to complete the eighth Kenyan sweep since 2000.

Highlights from historic race

Temperatures hovered around 15.6 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) as the professional men's and women's groups took off from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, under humid conditions for the 125th running of the world's oldest annual marathon.

A winner in Prague and Athens who finished 10th in Boston in 2019, Kipruto waited out an early breakaway by American CJ Albertson, who led by as many as two minutes at the halfway point. 

Kipruto took the lead at Cleveland Circle and finished 46 seconds ahead of 2016 winner Ethiopia's Lemi Berhanu; Albertson, who turned 28 on Monday, was 10th, 1:53 back.

Kipyogei ran ahead for much of the race and finished in 2:24:45, 23 seconds ahead of 2017 winner Edna Kiplagat.

Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race earlier despite making a wrong term in the final mile, finishing the slightly detoured route just seven seconds off his course record in 1:08:11.

Manuela Schar, also from Switzerland, won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:35:21.

Hug, who has raced Boston eight times and has five victories here, cost himself a $50,000 course record bonus when he missed the second-to-last turn, following the lead vehicle instead of turning from Commonwealth Avenue onto Hereford Street.

READ MORE: Covid-19 leaves holes in global sports that can never be filled

Impact of Covid-19 on marathon

Held annually since a group of Bostonians returned from the 1896 Athens Olympics and decided to stage a marathon of their own, the race has occurred during World Wars and even the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. 

But it was first postponed, then canceled last year, then postponed from the spring in 2021.

Organisers pushed the race back from its usual April date due to the Covid-19 pandemic and made other adjustments to the race, including capping participation to 20,000 entrants and requiring either a Covid-19 vaccine or proof of a negative test.

Organisers also re-engineered the start so runners in the recreational field of more than 18,000 weren't waiting around in crowded corrals for their wave to begin; instead, once they get off the bus in Hopkinton they can go.

Police were visible all along the course as authorities vowed to remain vigilant eight years after the bombings that killed three spectators and maimed hundreds of others on Boylston Street near the Back Bay finish line.

The race started about an hour earlier than usual, leading to smaller crowds in the first few towns. Wellesley College students had been told not to kiss the runners as they pass the school’s iconic “scream tunnel” near the halfway mark.

READ MORE: Kawauchi, Linden win landmark Boston Marathon titles

Source: TRTWorld and agencies