Legally blind woman's feat

Fifth-place finisher Marla Runyan, who is legally blind, is helped by her husband, Matt Lonergan (right) and a course worker after she crossed the finish line. — Pic. AP-Fifth-place finisher Marla Runyan, who is legally blind, is helped by her husband, Matt Lonergan (right) and a course worker after she crossed the finish line. — Pic. AP

Her time was more than three minutes slower than her personal best, but Marla Runyan still ran well enough to post the top Boston Marathon showing in 10 years by an American woman.

Runyan, who is legally blind, finished fifth in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 28 seconds. Although she was hampered by leg and side cramps, she led a strong American showing that placed three women in the top 10.

The last American to place in the top 10 was Kim Jones, who finished ninth in 1997. Runyan's was the best finish by an American woman since 1993, when Jones placed second in 2:30:00. That was also the last time three Americans placed in the top 10.

"I think it's a very proud day for Americans,'' said countrywoman Milena Glusac, who finished eighth at 2:37:32. Jill Gaitenby, another American, finished ninth at 2:38:19.

Despite the strong showing, the race was a disappointment for the 34-year-old Runyan, who finished fourth in her marathon debut in New York City last year with a time of 2:27:10. That time, which made her the fifth fastest American woman of all time, was the second fastest debut in U.S. history.

"Obviously, I didn't have a great race today,'' Runyan said. "I struggled a lot. But you have days like that and you learn from it and you come back and hopefully you come back stronger.'' Runyan was in the front pack of four women through the 15-kilometre mark. By 20 kilometres, however, she had slipped about 10 seconds behind. By the halfway point, she had fallen out of the pack.

The warm temperatures at the beginning of the race also took a toll, Runyan said.

Runyan, who began losing her eyesight at age nine due to a degenerative macular disease, was accompanied along the route by a race official. He provided her with information on times and where to find her water bottle — the same things visible to other runners.