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Mutai, Kilel of Kenya win 2011 Boston Marathon

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Mutai, Kilel of Kenya win 2011 Boston Marathon

BOSTON (AP) -- 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. 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 Desiree Davila of the United States to win by two seconds, in 2:22:36. Davila led as late as the final stretch on Boylston Street and ran the fastest Boston time ever for an American 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 150,000 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 backs -- 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 Gebregziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia, 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.

-- The Associated Press

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
 

'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

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'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.

At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers. 

So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time. 

1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.

2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots. 

3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."