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Ryan Hall smiled and waved to the crowd as he ran down Boylston Street, celebrating even before he crossed the finish line.
He wasn't headed for the first American victory since 1983.
He didn't have a personal best - far from it.
It wasn't even his best finish in the Boston Marathon.
No, Hall was steps away from clocking the fastest time ever for an American in the world's most prestigious marathon, finishing fourth in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 41 seconds. It was almost 21/2 minutes slower than his personal best, but still 6 seconds faster than a U.S. runner had completed the hilly course from Hopkinton to Copley Square.
"Today my goal was to have fun and run free, and I feel like I did," said Hall, who was 59 seconds slower when he finished third here last year. "I don't think you can have too much fun out there. Running is not all about records and places. I love to run, and I'm going to enjoy it."
Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya won the 114th Boston Marathon in 2:05:52 on Monday to shatter by 82 seconds the course record set by unrelated four-time winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia took the women's title in 2:26:11, sprinting to the tape to win by 3 seconds in the event's third-closest women's finish.
"Today was a breakthrough day," said Hall, who was 6 seconds faster than Bob Kempainen was in Boston in 1994. "Guys are paving new territory, and that's good for us, too."
Cheruiyot, 21, surpassed the time of 2:07:14 set in 2006 by his namesake, who is 10 years older. The younger Cheruiyot, who owns a farm back home, earned a bonus of $25,000 for the course record on top of the $150,000 that goes the men's and women's winners along with a golden olive wreath from the city of Marathon, Greece.
"I am going to buy some cows," Cheruiyot said.
The Cheruiyots are not the first namesakes to win in Boston.
When John J. Kelley won in 1957, he was destined to be confused with 1935 and '45 champion John A. Kelley, a beloved patriarch of the Boston Marathon who continued to run the race each year until 1992, when he was 84. When he could no longer complete the distance, "Johnny the Elder" would serenade the competitors at the starting line with "Young at Heart"; a statue of him in his younger and older days greets the runners at the base of Heartbreak Hill in Newton.
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won his first Boston Marathon in 2003 and three more times from 2006-08 to cement his place among the race's greats. On Monday, acting on the advice his elder gave him in a meeting two months ago, "Robert the Younger" produced a blistering pace to join them.
"Most of the people already confuse me with Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot," said the 2010 champion, who finished fifth in Boston last year after winning in Frankfurt in his marathon debut. "With me and Robert, we talk the same language, but in different stripes. I think people can see me and they can see him and compare."
Cheruiyot finished 91 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Tekeste Kebede to give Kenya its 18th men's victory in 20 years. Defending champion Deriba Merga was third, followed by Hall and fellow Californian Meb Keflezighi, the reigning New York City Marathon winner; no U.S. man has won the race since Greg Meyer in 1983.
"We are training hard, but that doesn't mean we're going to hit a home run every time," said Keflezighi, who was trying to be the first American to win in New York and Boston back-to-back since Alberto Salazar in 1982. "We take big pride in being among the favorites. We put it on the line. We don't go for second. I think the crowd appreciated it, because they were shouting 'U-S-A! U-S-A!"'
A temperature of 49 degrees and a 13 mph headwind greeted more than 26,000 runners at the start in Hopkinton, including an unprecedented 71 who came from Greece to help celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. It was there, in 490 B.C., that a messenger named Pheidippides was dispatched the roughly 26 miles to Athens to deliver news of a victory over Persia - and fell to the ground dead.
Erkesso opened a lead of more than 90 seconds and held on, grabbing her side as she ran along Beacon Street in the last four miles. Russia's Tatyana Pushkareva was second by 3 seconds and defending champion Salina Kosgei was third; Paige Higgins of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the top American woman, in 13th.
The men's wheelchair race was also close, with South African Ernst Van Dyk finishing 4 seconds ahead of Krige Schabort for his ninth win - an all-divisions record in Boston. Van Dyk has won three in a row, and he also won six consecutive years from 2000-06; Jean Driscoll won eight Boston women's wheelchair races.
Wakako Tsuchida of Japan won her fourth straight women's wheelchair title.
This program aired on April 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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