Story by James O'Brien
“Nobody wanted to lead because of the conditions,” commented 25 year old Ben True after taking a whisper thin victory in the 2011 BAA 5K. “But I was pretty confident in my kick.” The evidence at the finish line would bear him out, although with little more than 400m remaining any of a handful of swift 5K guys could have claimed the victory.
An annoying wind buffeted the course throughout the morning; but, by the 8am start time the rain had abated and the fire service trucks, responding to a call just 100m into the course, had dispersed, allowing the 5000 runners in the third edition of this race to get underway perfectly on time. Even so, the wind would not relent - sometimes from the front, sometimes from behind, sometimes from across - prompting all of the race favorites to be, as True explained, cautious.
That said, as the gun fired to get the field underway, the man who bolted straight for the lead was - guess who - Ben True. Congealed around him were Australia’s Ben St Lawrence, Luke Meyer, Bobby Curtis, Kenya’s John Korir, Nick Arciniaga, Ben Bruce and a knot of superb racers, all seeking shelter from the storm. In reality, there was no true leader; it was more a case of momentum. Whoever drifted forward and whoever drifted back determined who held the pole position.
Meyer was the man finding himself at the sharpest end of the field through the uphill section around Boston Common that led to the first mile mark; but it was there, with 4:40 elapsed, that a determined leader decided to make his presence felt. That was Arciniaga, better known as a marathoner - second in Houston in January - but owner of a 5K PR of 14:13. He surged into the lead, immediately opening a five meter gap on the field along the downhill stretch on the return side of the Common.
It was a momentary initiative, though. Arciniaga quickly reverted to cruise control and, led by Korir, the pack gained ground again. At two miles (9:20), it was business as usual, and that was pretty much how it stayed until the closing half mile brought the inevitable increase in tempo. St Lawrence, Korir, True, Arciniaga, Curtis, Meyer and a clutch of others were still there, even as the group made the left turn onto Boylston Street, bringing the finish line into sight. Inevitably, that was where it quickly morphed from a race of caution to one of unadulterated speed.
Spreading wide across the street, Korir inched into the lead, then Curtis edged up, then St. Lawrence. Even with 20 meters remaining, any of four guys could have stolen the race; but, as True maintained, he was confident in his kick, and that was the decider. Making the most significant move of the race as the most effective time, he surged into a stride lead, breaking the finish tape in a course record of 14:07. (The old course mark stood at 14:29 to Jarrod Shoemaker from the inaugural 2009 event). Curtis crossed so close behind, that he was awarded the same time. St Lawrence took third at 14:09 and Korir fourth, also on 14:09.
Hailing from North Yarmouth, ME, True attended Dartmouth College, where he became the first athlete in that school’s history to run a sub-four minute mile. In addition to earning All American honors in track and cross country, he secured the same designation in cross country skiing. Those kinds of credentials tend to breed athletes of confidence and, more often than not, that’s what makes the difference.