BOSTON --- Robert Cheruiyot is well-versed in the Boston Marathon course, with four victories in five trips from Hopkinton to the Back Bay.
Abderrahime Bouramdane visited for the first time Monday, learning what thousands before him have come to understand as they reached Heartbreak Hill, 20 miles into the race.
"Up," he said, "is the problem."
Cheruiyot pulled away from Bouramdane as they entered the Newton Hills, reaching the crest of Heartbreak Hill with a 27-second lead and coasting to the sixth-fastest time in Boston Marathon history.
Dire Tune outkicked Alevtina Biktimirova after a back-and-forth final mile to win by 2 seconds in the closest finish in the history of the women's race. Cheruiyot, of Kenya, and Tune, of Ethiopia, each earned a recently enhanced prize of $150,000 -- the biggest in major marathon history.
Cheruiyot won in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 46 seconds to become the fourth man to win the race four times. After crossing the finish line, he dropped to his knees to kiss the ground before standing up and counting off his four victories with an upraised arm.
"This was the hardest," Cheruiyot said. "Boston is not a very easy course, it's very difficult. (But) I enjoy running the hills."
Although he repeatedly checked his watch as he ran alone for the last few miles, Cheruiyot did not challenge the course record of 2:07:14 he set two years ago.
Tune, who finished in 2:25:25, was the first Ethiopian woman to win since Fatuma Roba won three in a row from 1997-99. She ran side-by-side with Biktimirova into Kenmore Square and appeared to give up an edge when she nearly missed one of the final turns.
Tune quickly composed herself and took the lead, but Biktimirova caught her and regained the lead briefly. Tune pulled ahead in the last few city blocks.
A STRONG EFFORT
Among those in the event's second-largest field: cyclist Lance Armstrong, left, and astronaut Sunita Williams.
Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times on the strength of his work in the mountains. When he started preparing for Boston, his third marathon, some race veterans told him the hills weren't as difficult as their reputation.
"They were wrong," said Armstrong, who finished 496th in 2:50:58. "They are harder, and they do come at a difficult time in the race."
-- Associated Press