Ninety yards from the finish, Hussein sprang. He blew past Ikangaa and opened a 10-foot lead. That quickly, Ikangaa was broken. There was no room left for him to reply.
Hussein hit the tape in 2:08:43, the second-fastest time in Boston history. The first African ever to win this race, Hussein draped himself in a Kenyan flag and smiled broadly. "The marathons that I won in the past, I always ran away with them," he said. "This will show people that I can win close ones, too."
Ikangaa finished in 2:08:44, with Treacy third in 2:09:15. The 40-year-old Rodgers was the first American across the line, placing 28th in 2:18:17.
In a less thrilling outcome, 29-year-old Rosa Mota of Portugal successfully defended her women's title. Her clocking of 2:24:30 left runner-up Tuija Jousimaa of Finland almost five minutes behind. "I like to run by myself," said Mota afterward. The 5'1", 99-pound Mota has become the mighty mite of women's marathoning: She won the women's World Championship in Rome last summer by more than seven minutes. Mota lives in Oporto, where she trains on cobbled streets and along the banks of the Douro River. Her career nearly ended in 1979, when she began experiencing shortness of breath during training, but she turned to a local physician, Jose Pedrosa, who relieved her problem—exercise-induced asthma—and became her coach, agent and live-in companion. Since then Mota has won two European titles, an Olympic bronze medal (1984) and nine of 12 marathons, and has become a national hero.
While Mota's win in Boston confirmed her status as the world's No. 1 woman marathoner and the Olympic favorite, Hussein's triumph elevated his standing considerably. Never had he broken 2:11 or defeated such a talented field. His victory also continued Africa's recent domination of international distance running. At last summer's World Championships, African men won every race from 800 meters through the marathon, except the steeplechase. They also swept the first 10 places at the world cross-country meet last month in Auckland, New Zealand.
Ikangaa was asked about the African resurgence. "Maybe the runners are training hard for the honor of their country," he said. "Maybe that is more important to them." Come the Olympics, the entire continent, it seems, will be much honored indeed.