Just Like What it Was

Mark My Words

It was like winning the Super Bowl. It was like winning the World Series. It was like winning the Boston Marathon.

It was winning the Boston Marathon.

Yesterday, Ibrahim Hussein became the first African to win the Boston Marathon. Rosa Mota, from Portugal, won her second straight Boston Marathon.

Hussein ran neck-and-neck the whole way with Juma Ikangaa of Tanzania. Mota ran alone the whole way.

For Hussein, it was like winning the Super Bowl on a last-second touchdown pass. It was like winning the World Series with a grand-slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was like winning the Boston Marathon by one second.

It was winning the Boston Marathon by one second.

With 100 yards left in the race, Hussein and Ikangaa ran side by side. With 80 yards left, Hussein and Ikangaa ran side by side. With 60 yards left, with 50 yards left, the pair of Africans were together.

But with 40 yards left, Hussein made his move. He kicked, and passed Ikangaa on the right. The fans along Boylston Street erupted in applause. The fans hanging on the canopy of Yenching Palace cheered. The fans on top of the Lenox Hotel waved.

Hussein crossed the finish in two hours, eight minutes and 43 seconds. Ikangaa crossed in two hours, eight minutes and 44 seconds.

"When I kicked, I looked back and he didn't respond," Hussein said. "I knew I had him."

For Mota, it was like winning the Super Bowl by 40 points. It was like scoring 10 runs in the first inning of the final game of the World Series and then winning, 20-0. It was like winning the Boston Marathon by five minutes.

It was winning the Boston Marathon by five minutes.

"I like to run by myself," Mota said. "I just look at the time and concentrate on the time and try to run as fast as I can."

In his race, Hussein had to vie with a gang of runners. In the early going, Hussein was one of 15 or so runners in the lead pack. Over the first nine miles, six runners held the lead at one time.

In the early going yesterday, it was like competing in the National Hockey League playoffs. It was like being one of 64 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament. It was like being in a swarm of world-class runners in it Boston Marathon.

It was being in a swarm of world-class runners in the Boston Marathon.

"At eight miles, there was a very big group," Hussein said. "I just concentrated on my own form. I ran my own race. No one was going to run away with it."

Hussein had to beware of John Treacy, a runner from Ireland. Treacy is noted for his fine finishes. If Treacy drew close in the last few miles, he might be able to pull away.

Treacy hung on. He was there at 10 miles. He was there at 15. He was there at 20, 21, 22. He was there.

"By the 25th mile, I was really fighting hard," Treacy said. "Both of them [Hussein and Ikangaa] were just stronger than I was."

He was no longer there.

Meanwhile, Mota was alone. The Boston Marathon Committee could have handed her the $45,000 first-place prize at around mile 10. She could have driven off in her new Mercedes at mile 20. She was the first woman. And she looked like the last woman on earth, surrounded by a horde of huffing and puffing men.

It was like running for office in the Soviet Union. It was like being Mike Tyson. It was like running away with the Boston Marathon.

It was running away with the Boston Marathon.

To win the Boston Marathon is to experience the agony of victory.

It was like winning the Stanley Cup. It was like winning the Triple Crown. It was like winning the Boston Marathon.

It was winning the Boston Marathon.

And it was sweet.