By Jonathan Gault
April 21, 2022
On Wednesday, we handed out our report cards for the elite men at the 2022 Boston Marathon. Now it’s time to do the same for the women. Just a reminder, these are graded on a scale. Beating someone doesn’t guarantee a higher grade. 2:27 might be a great race for one pro and a poor race for another.
On to the grades…
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1. Peres Jepchirchir 2:21:01 Kenya A
Jepchirchir won her fifth straight marathon, and she did so in the third-fastest winning time in race history against the greatest field in Boston history. She certainly had to work for it, but how can you give her anything other than an A?
2. Ababel Yeshaneh 2:21:05 Ethiopia A
Yeshaneh finished 13 seconds behind Jepchirchir in New York and four seconds behind her in Boston. That’s how close Yeshaneh is to the best marathoner in the world right now. Yeshaneh, who was also 2nd in Chicago in 2019, seems destined to lower her 2:20:51 pb and win a major one day – assuming she’s not in the same race as Jepchirchir.
3. Mary Ngugi 2:21:32 Kenya A
Ngugi finished third, the same spot as she did in Boston in October, but this was a far more impressive performance considering she ran a nearly four-minute pb of 2:21:32. Ngugi, a two-time World Half medalist and the widow of Samuel Wanjirudebuted in Boston in 2019 at age 30 and has run PBs in all four of her marathons to this point.
4. Edna Kiplagat 2:21:40 Kenya A-
If you’re grading Kiplagat based on her age, then this is an A+. At 42, she finished 4th in a deep field and broke the masters course record by over three minutes, previously held by…Edna Kiplagat from last year. Had she run this performance in October, she would have won the race. That’s incredible. But considering Kiplagat was runner-up in her last two Bostons, she might be slightly disappointed to have finished off the podium on Monday.
5. Monicah Ngige 2:22:13 Kenya A-
Like Kiplagat, Ngige finished one place lower in Boston than last year but ran significantly faster as her 2:22:13 was a pb by more than three minutes compared to what she ran in her marathon debut in October.
6. Viola Cheptoo 2:23:47 Kenya B-
In her debut in New York last fall, Cheptoo was just five seconds behind winner Peres Jepchirchir and beat Ababel Yeshaneh (the runner-up in Boston) by eight seconds. On Monday, she wasn’t close to either of them.
7. Joyciline Jepkosgei 2:24:43 Kenya C-
Jepkosgei was pushing the pace with Jepchirchir in the early going but fell off during mile 23 and faded badly on the way home (her final mile was 7:06), proof that the uphills and downhills of Boston can derail even the best marathoners.
8. Degitu Azimeraw 2:25:23 Ethiopia C-
Azimeraw, like Jepkosgei, entered this race with high hopes after a stellar performance in London in October. Her agent Daan van den Berg told us before the race her buildup had been “perfect, perfect” and that she might be able to run 2:16 on a flat course. Though she went with Jepchirchir and Jepkosgei’s initial surge during mile 6, she was dropped before halfway and was never a factor from there. Azimeraw is only 23 so she should have plenty more cracks at a WMM victory, but this was a step back after an impressive start to her marathon career.
9. Charlotte Purdue 2:25:26 Great Britain A-
This was Purdue’s highest-ever finish in a World Marathon Major and the second-fastest time of her career after a 2:23:26 in London last year. Considering Purdue had mostly raced flat marathons to this point in her career, 2:25 and top 10 is a fine result in her Boston debut.
10. Nell Rojas 2:25:57 USA A
Rojas made the bold decision to abandon her adidas sponsorship in order to race in her preferred Nike Alphaflys in Monday’s race, and it could scarcely have worked out better in the race as she ran a 75-second pb and finished as top American for the second consecutive year. Like Keira D’Amato and Sarah Hall, Rojas, a former triathlete and obstacle course racer, did not take a conventional path to marathon success. But she now clearly belongs in any discussion of America’s top marathoners.
“You do it one time, and OK that was lucky,” Rojas said. “You do it more, you believe in yourself more and realize you could compete with these people and you’re one of them.”
11. Malindi Elmore 2:27:58 Canada B+
Like Kiplagat, Elmore has already run so well at an advanced age that she has forced us to reclassify what would be a “good” race for her. Objectively, 2:27 is an exceptional performance for a 42-year-old Canadian who made the 2004 Olympics as a 1500 runner. But Elmore also ran 2:24 at age 39 and was 9th in the Olympics last year at 41. With that in mind, her Boston run gets a B+.
12. Stephanie Bruce 2:28:02 USA B+
Bruce couldn’t quite crack the top 10, but her 2:28:02 was just 15 seconds off her personal best from 2019. A very solid run in her final spring marathon.
13. Des Linden 2:28:47 USA B
Linden’s result was a definite improvement from her 2:35:25, 17th-place finish in the fall, and considering her buildup was less than ideal, she gave herself a B+ as she felt she overperformed her training. We’re bumping that down to a B. Linden was solid, but she finished outside the top 10 (something she hadn’t done in 12 straight marathons before ’21 Boston) and was beaten by Bruce (whom Linden was 3-0 against before Monday).
14. Dakotah Lindwurm 2:29:55 USA A-
Lindwurm ran over a minute faster than her time in October’s Boston but fished one place lower as this field was much deeper. All in all, a very solid day at the office for the Minnesota Distance Elite athlete.
21. Sara Vaughn 2:36:27 USA D+
The 4:04 1500 runner turned heads last year by winning her marathon debut at CIM in 2:26:53, but she was almost 10 minutes slower in marathon #2 in Boston.
Molly Seidel DNF USA Incomplete/D-
Seidel endeavored to run with the lead pack, and she hung on through miles 6 and 7 – the only American to do so – after Jepchirchir and Jepkosgei dropped a 5:12 and 5:13 back-to-back (2:16 marathon pace) ). Seidel would pay for that exuberance later, however, as she would slow and ultimately decide to drop out at 16.6 miles once the hip impingement that hampered her buildup flared up again.
You can’t fault Seidel at all for dropping out – any chance of a good day had evaporated, and the World Championship marathon is just three months away. No sense risking further injury. But this was a day to forget for the hometown favorite.