Hellen Obiri is the 2023 New York Marathon champion

Hellen Obiri celebrates after winning the New York Marathon.[World Athletics]

Hellen Obiri timed her kick to perfection to win a thrilling women's race and Tamirat Tola broke the course record for a dominant men's title triumph at the TCS New York City Marathon, a World Athletics Platinum Label event, on Sunday.

Claiming their crowns in contrasting styles, Obiri sprinted away from Letesenbet Gidey and Sharon Lokedi in Central Park and crossed the finish line in 2:27:23, winning by six seconds, while Tola left his rivals far behind with 10km remaining in a long run for home. Clocking 2:04:58, he took eight seconds off the course record set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.

While fast times have dominated recent marathon headlines, the focus in New York was always going to be the battles thanks to the undulating course and competitive fields.

The women's race was particularly loaded. Kenya's Lokedi returned to defend her title against a strong field that featured Boston Marathon winner Obiri, 10,000m and half marathon world record-holder Gidey, and former world record-holder Brigid Kosgei, while Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir was a late withdrawal following the leg injury she sustained a week before the race.

There was no clear pre-race favourite and that remained the case right up to the closing stages, with many of the leading contenders locked in a fierce fight after a tactical 26 miles.

The pace was conservative in the first half, with a series of surges but no big moves. Eleven of the 14 members of the field remained together at half way, reached in 1:14:21. It set the scene for a final flurry, with the pace having gradually slowed after 5km was passed by the leaders in 17:23, 10km in 34:35 and 15km in 52:29.

Obiri, Lokedi and Kosgei were all firmly part of that group, along with their Kenyan compatriots Edna Kiplagat, Mary Ngugi-Cooper and Viola Cheptoo. Ethiopia's Gidey was happy to sit at the back of the pack, with USA's Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle taking it in turns to push the pace.

The tempo dropped again as the lead group hit the quiet of Queensboro Bridge, with the 25km mark reached in 1:28:39. But the group forged on, hitting 30km in 1:47:06 and 35km in 2:04:45.

Then Cheptoo made a move. The 2021 New York runner-up managed to create a gap but Obiri was the first to react and covered it gradually. Gidey followed and as Cheptoo surged again, Obiri and Gidey ran side-by-side behind her. It wasn't decisive, though, and soon Lokedi and Kosgei were able to rejoin them.

As the group hit 24 miles in Central Park, Lokedi was running alongside Obiri and Cheptoo, with Gidey and Kosgei just behind. The pace picked up again but each time Kosgei was dropped, she managed to claw her way back - Lokedi leading from Gidey, Obiri and Kosgei with one mile to go.

Looking determined, two-time world 5000m champion Obiri saw her chance and began to stride for the finish. Being chased by Gidey and with Lokedi four seconds back, she kicked again at the 26-mile mark and couldn't be caught, using her superb finishing speed to extend her winning margin to six seconds.

It was a brilliant return for Obiri, who finished sixth when making her marathon debut in New York last year and who went on to win the Boston Marathon in April. She becomes the first women since Ingrid Kristiansen in 1989 to complete the Boston and New York marathon title double in the same year.

Gidey followed Obiri over the finish line in 2:27:29, while Lokedi was third in 2:27:33, Kosgei fourth in 2:27:45 and Ngugi-Cooper fifth in 2:27:53.

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