How the American Men Fared in the 2021 NYC Marathon

Four U.S. men finished in the top 10, but they weren’t necessarily the names anyone expected.

elkanah kibet new york city marathon
Derek Call

With four finishers in the top 10, American men continued a string of strong performances at this fall’s World Marathon Majors. Given the depth of the field in New York City, today’s showing was arguably stronger than in Chicago (five in the top 10, led by Galen Rupp in second) and Boston (two in the top 10, led by Colin Bennie in seventh) last month.

The U.S. squad was headed by Elkanah Kibet, 38, who ran a 16-second personal best over the challenging New York course to place fourth in 2:11:15. A member of the U.S. Army, Kibet ran his way onto the 2022 World Championships marathon team under the criteria announced by USA Track & Field last month.

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In his debut marathon, Ben True, 35, finished seventh in 2:12:53. Unsure of how 26.2 miles of racing would unfold, True, who is often an aggressive competitor, ran conservatively early on. He let the lead pack go before the four-mile mark. At halfway, he was in 13th place, one minute and 45 seconds behind the leaders.

But his patience paid off. By 20 miles, True was in 10th. He kept pressing and picked off three more men by the finish. True can count among his accomplishments beating Kibiwott Kandie, the world record-holder in the half marathon who was also making his marathon debut, and finishing one second behind Kenenisa Bekele, the second fastest marathoner in history.

ben true
Ben True finished his first 26.2 in 2:12:53, good enough for seventh.
Derek Call

Nathan Martin, 31, was just behind, finishing eighth in 2:12:57. Martin ran his personal best of 2:11:05 last December at the Marathon Project. That time is the fastest marathon run by a Black man born in the United States. Martin lives in Jackson, Michigan, where he works as a substitute teacher and coach.

Rounding out the top 10 was Jared Ward, 33, who ran 2:14:06 after running with True and Martin through the first 25 kilometers. Ward was the most accomplished American in today’s field. He finished sixth in the 2016 Olympic Marathon and placed sixth/top American at New York in 2018 and 2019. Ward’s personal best of 2:09:25, set in finishing eighth at Boston in 2019, makes him the second fastest American man who ran today.

The fastest American man in the field had a tough day. Noah Droddy, 31, set his PR of 2:09:09 at the Marathon Project last year. In his first marathon since, Droddy dropped out soon after the 35-kilometer mark. In the 1.7 miles between 20 miles and 35K, Droddy slipped from 20th to 25th.

“My body just totally shut down on me around 17,” Droddy wrote on Twitter. “I’m not sure what happened. I’m really disappointed, and sorry to let down the folks who supported me. We’ll try again another day.”

Race organizers offered a generous U.S.-only prize purse, with Kibet earning $25,000 for being the top American. True made $15,000, Martin $10,000, Ward $5,000, and John Raneri, the fifth American (12th overall in 2:15:36) $3,000.

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