Heading into this year's Boston Marathon, the weather looked to be as biblical as 2018, when the combination of bitter cold and rain that didn't stop made for miserable running conditions. And that had competitors worried.

"When we drove to that start line, oh, it looked really, really bad," said Manuela Schär, the women's push-rim wheelchair winner. "And I was worried because, I mean, last year was still in our heads, I think. And I had a really bad experience last year."

But the overcast skies cleared up and allowed for a relatively smooth, and even warm, 123rd running of Boston's big race.

As racers gathered in Hopkinton, a steady downpour fell from above. Unlike last year, however, the clouds cleared up in time for the elite competitors to finish a relatively dry race. And in a sport where preparation is everything, some runners came through a little too ready for the weather to take a turn for the worst.

“Actually, we were warming up and it was kind of funny to see people to be totally over-prepared in jackets and the whole thing," said Des Linden, who was the top women's runner last year and finished in fifth place this time around. "I’m like, ‘It’s actually pretty warm out here.’ So, it obviously took a turn and was pretty favorable out there and actually on the warm side, if anything.”

Marathon runners prepared for the rain.
Annie Shreffler WGBH News

The rough weather last year helped lead to some unexpected results, including Yuki Kawauchi winning the men's race as a semi-pro runner.

This year, the elite runners at the top of the field dominated as expected. The men's runners in particular came down to the wire as Lawrence Cherono edged out Lelisa Desisa by just two seconds to take home the 2019 tile.

It was a photo finish that had spectators yelling at the top of their lungs.

"Oh man, I've never seen anything like that," said Mike Fayhe of Boston, who was watching the race from the street. "No, I can't remember anything that close! I was about 200 yards up the street, they were neck and neck! Running faster than I've even dreamed of."

Cherono, Desisa and Kenneth Kipkemoi were neck and neck heading into the home stretch. That's when Cherono turned on the jets to pull ahead.

"At the end, I emerged the winner," he said. "So I was so grateful, so happy."

Paula Neckifarro, another spectator from Boston, was more than pleased with the ending.

"Fantastic," she said. "It makes you proud of Boston to have such a good race, doesn't it?"

Worknesh Degefa, the top runner on the women's side, lead the pack from about the fifth mile of the race. No one was even close as she gained on the finish line. Through a translator, she explained her strategy to take a large lead that early on.

"I knew that I have some speed, so I [pushed] myself after five mile," she said.

But as favorable as conditions ended up being, even the experienced runners felt the impact of the 26.2 mile race on their bodies. At the press conference, a reporter asked Des Linden if she was getting choked up from emotions at the finish line as she was waving to the crowd.

As it turns out, Linden was feeling something. But it wasn't emotions.

"I'm going to be totally honest with you, that was me almost vomiting," Linden said.

2018 Boston Marathon women's elite winner Des Linden finished this year's Marathon in fifth place.
Annie Shreffler WGBH News

WGBH News' Phillip Martin contributed to this report.