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Fatuma, Ndereba Take Maraton Lead

April 19, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ Two-time defending champion Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia and first-time marathoner Catherine Ndereba of Kenya took the lead today just past the midpoint of the Boston Marathon.

They passed China’s Sun Yingjie, a 20-yer-old who barely moves her arms when she runs and set a blistering early pace.

Among the men, 14 lead runners were packed halfway through the race, with Kenya’s Kenneth Cheruiyot and Mexico’s Isaac Garcia timed in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 27 seconds. Six other runners were a second behind.

Franz Nietlispach of Switzerland won his third straight men’s wheelchair race in an unofficial time of 1:21:36. The only faster time in the race’s history was 1:21:23 in 1994 by Heinz Frei. It was Nietlispach’s fourth Boston title, one fewer than Jim Knaub’s record of five.

In the women’s wheelchair race, another sprint to the finish was possible between Louise Sauvage of Australia and seven-time winner Jean Driscoll of Champaign, Ill. Sauvage won last year, although both were timed in 1:41:19.

Amid sunshine and temperatures around 60 degrees, Sun ran away from the other women early on. Her time after eight miles was 42:06, nearly a minute faster than the course record for that distance. That pace, though, proved too much.

Her lead at the midpoint dropped to seven seconds over Roba and Ndereba and she continued to fade as a two-woman race developed.

In the men’s race, Kenyans were shooting for their ninth straight Boston Marathon win, with Moses Tanui was going for his second straight and third in four years. He was near the back of the lead pack.

As the race began at noon in Hopkinton, west of the finish line in downtown Boston, the sky was bright and the air was dry.

And the field of 12,797 official runners was exceeded only by the 38,708 entered in the Boston Marathon’s centennial race in 1996. Last year’s field of 11,499 is now the third biggest.

A total of $525,000 in prize money, not counting bonuses for record performances, included $80,000 each for the men’s and women’s winners.

Bill Rodgers shared the spotlight with the dominant Kenyan men. Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston and New York City marathons, is 51 and was shooting for the over-50 course record by an American of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 34 seconds set in 1983 by Norm Green.

Rodgers, who lives in Sherborn, wasn’t the only area runner attracting attention.

Lynn Jennings of Newmarket, N.H., made her official marathon debut at 38. She ran in Boston when she was 17 but didn’t meet the minimum-age requirement. Since then, she developed into one of the world’s top distance runners and won three straight world cross-country champions from 1990-92.

Former world-record holder Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway, who won the Boston race in 1986 and 1989, also was in the field.

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