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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zakharova Follows in Markova's Footsteps

BOSTON -- The Kenyans have many role models to follow in the Boston Marathon. Russia's Svetlana Zakharova had just one.

As a girl, Zakharova watched countrywoman Olga Markova win in Boston in 1992 and '93. A day after Zakharova became the first Russian to win the race since Markova, she said she was inspired by the two-time winner.

"When she was a young girl, she would watch Olga run in Boston," Zakharova's interpreter said Tuesday. "She was dreaming that one day she would do something like that."

Zakharova ran away from fellow Russian Lyubov Denisova over the final 8 kilometers to win by 91 seconds in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 20 seconds. Robert Cheruiyot won the men's race in 2:10:11, as Kenya won for the 12th time in 13 years, sweeping the top five positions and eight of the first nine.

Russia's Fyodor Ryzhov was the first non-Kenyan in the men's race. He also finished first in the masters (over-40) division; another Russian, Firaya Sultanova, won the women's masters.

"Long-distance running is not as popular [in Russia] as in Kenya," said Zakharova's manager and interpreter, Konstantin Selinevich. "But she will be recognized in Russia. Everyone knows about the Boston Marathon."

Part of the reason for that is Markova.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian runners needed permission from their national federation to run in Boston. Most of the top Soviet runners were sent to the world championships and the Olympics, so the country could express its dominance.

In 1992, Markova took advantage of her newfound freedom to run Boston as a representative of the Commonwealth of Independent States. She became the first champion from her homeland, whatever its name, then came back the next year representing Russia and won again.

Selinevich said he got no fewer than 20 calls Monday night from well-wishers back home who watched the race on satellite television.

Zakharova also ran in the 1997 Boston Marathon and finished 15th. Since then, she has lowered the Russian record to 2:21:31, finishing fourth in London and winning the Honolulu Marathon twice (she has also finished second there five times).

She is one of the most prolific marathoners in the world, racing three or four times a year instead of the usual twice. That may have helped her Monday, when the rising temperatures and headwind slowed the rest of the field.

"The body type of the Kenyans, you see the difference," the interpreter said. "Her main strength is power. Her body helps her to run difficult courses, and under difficult conditions. When you're thin, a headwind will not help you."

A day after the 107th Boston Marathon, organizers said that of the 20,223 runners who registered for the race, 17,567 started and 97 percent of them -- or 17,046 -- finished. That last number included citizens of 70 countries and every U.S. state.

More than 600 runners sought medical attention and 19 went to hospitals, all in good condition.

There was one minor arrest and no public safety issues.

Race director Dave McGillivray also reported that things went smoothly with the guide for fifth-place women's finisher Marla Runyan, who is legally blind. A cyclist rode nearby to tell her where her water bottles were and read off her times at the mile markers.

"Marla reported all went according to plan," McGillivray said.