BOSTON - Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai won the Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds the fastest anyone has ever run the 26.2 mile distance.
The previous best of 2:03:59 was by Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin 2008. But because Monday's race had a strong tailwind on a downhill course, Mutai's run is not recognized by track's international governing body as a record.
But Mutai was almost three minutes better than the course record set just last year by Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot.
Caroline Kilel won the women's race to complete the Kenyan sweep, outsprinting American Desiree Davila to win by two seconds, in 2:22:36. Davila led as late as the final stretch on Boylston Street and ran the fastest time ever for a U.S. woman, five seconds faster than Joan Benoit finished to win in 1983.
No American man or woman has won Boston since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985. Ryan Hall ran the fastest marathon ever for an American, finishing fourth in 2:04:58, and Kara Goucher ran a personal best 2:24:52 to add a fifth-place finish to her third in 2009.
Kilel and Mutai each earn $150,00 for the win, and Mutai gets $50,000 for the world best and another $25,000 for the course record.
A year after Cheruiyot lowered the course record by more than a minute, the runners lined up in Hopkinton with temperatures in the high 40s and a wind at their back perfect marathoning weather.
Kim Smith, a New Zealander who lives in Providence, took off at a record pace and led the women's race for more than 20 miles. The men were more steady, and they were the ones to take down the old mark.
Four men, including Hall and third-place finisher Ethiopian Gebregziabher Gebremariam, broke the 2:05 milestone that just 12 months ago had seemed insurmountable on the hilly Boston course.
Mutai and Moses Mosop ran side-by-side for the final miles before Mutai pulled ahead for good on Boylston Street and won by four seconds. The 19th Kenyan winner in the past 21 years, Mutai raised his arms in the air and grinned; Cheruiyot, who injured his side in a car accident in Kenya, dropped out in the first half of the race.
Smith took off at the start, and the pack let her go, falling almost a minute behind. But 20 miles in, as she ran down Commonwealth Avenue in Newton toward Heartbreak Hill, she began to stutter-step.
Soon, she had stopped completely to rub her right calf. It was only for a few seconds, but when she resumed she had clearly slowed and the pack was upon her less than a mile later. Among them was Davila.
The American ran with Kenyans Kilel and Sharon Cherop through Chestnut Hill and briefly broke out of her rhythm to wave as the crowd began chanting, "U-S-A!" The three swapped leads down Beacon Street in Brookline, and Davila led even on the final stretch before Kilel outkicked her.
Masazumi Soejima and Wakako Tsuchida gave Japan a sweep of the men's and women's wheelchair divisions. It was the fifth straight win for Tsuchida and the second overall for Soejima.