BOSTON, Mass. -- Under overcast skies and a starting temperature of 65 degrees, the Boston Athletic Association added a new chapter in their 124th year history with the inaugural running of the B.A.A. 10K. Starting and finishing in Boston Common, 3,060 runners competed along Commonwealth Avenue and past Boston University, before making the turn-around at Babcock Street and heading back to the finish. Two familiar faces emerged at the clear victors in today’s race. Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya, the reining 2011 Boston Marathon, pulled away from the field near the four mile mark to take a lead which he wouldn’t relinquish – winning comfortably in a time of 27:19. On the women’s side, defending Boston Marathon champion and Kenyan Caroline Kilel made a similar move near the four mile mark to win in 31:58. Both runners took home not only the $5,000 cash prize for first place, but further solidified themselves in Boston running lore.
10 Fast Facts, and Top 10 Finishers
Complete Results (coolrunning.com)
The men's elite field began the day with several of the top competitors from this past Spring’s Boston Marathon, including Moses Mosop (KEN), second overall at the 2011 Boston Marathon, and Gebre Gebremaiam (ETH), who finished third overall at last April’s race. Also in the hunt was Sammy Chelanga from Kenya, marking his professional debut after becoming only the 11th man in history to win back-to-back NCAA Cross Country titles (2009 and 2010 respectively) while competing for Liberty University.
With opening mile splits of 4:32 and 4:23 respectively for the first two miles, Mutai quickly established himself as the runner to beat, as he took control over Gebremariam and Chelanga by mile three. Another comfortable mile split of 4:36 followed, which seemed to set up the surge that was about to follow. By mile 4, Mutai clearly showed he was ready to put this race into his own hands alone by dropping an incredible 4:18 split to pull away from his nearest competitors. And if that wasn’t enough, he dropped a subsequent 4:16 between mile four and mile five. By that time, not only had Mutai opened up a 50 meter lead, but he seemed to also affect Chelanga’s interest in the race, as he dropped back 20 meters from Gebremariam. Making the last turn onto Charles Street, Mutai was all alone to bask in the glory of yet another historic victory in Boston.
Mutai seemed to come into this event as the underdog. Despite running the fastest marathon ever recorded last April in 2:03:02, many believed that Mosop and Gebremariam had an edge in this shorter distance. But Mutai seemed comfortable with the distance, and claimed afterwards that this distance is one he can handle. "I feel like I am at home again, because last time I won the Boston Marathon, this time now I won 10K”. And it seems he will stick with the shorter distance, claiming he will take his shot at 10,000 meters on the track for this summer’s World Track and Field Championships.
When asked about his newfound success in Boston competitive running, Mutai said, "For me it was like a dream, because I can win the Boston Marathon and then I come to win the B.A.A. 10K. I feel like I am special now in Boston. I feel like I am at home, I enjoyed myself in Boston”. Gebremariam tipped his hat to Mutai as well by saying, "It was very flat, very fast. I think in the future it could be a world record course. Mutai is still very good.”
Even though Chelanga fell short of success in his professional debut, he had high praise for not only his competitors, but for the historic environment surrounding B.A.A. events.
"It was like a fartlek out there, they would surge and surge. I now know what to expect, Chelanga said after the race. “It's something you read and dream about. I saw the huge CITGO sign, and I'm like wow, this is a dream. It's like I'm doing the Boston Marathon. I know that one day I am going to do the Boston Marathon, and I am going to do awesome. It's just exciting.”
Mutai’s victory is a pending IAAF Area Record (North, Central America, and Caribbean); with the previous best by Mark Nenow in a time of 27:23, set in 1984 at the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans, LA.
The women’s race unfolded in a similar fashion, with Caroline Kilel (KEN), Kim Smith (NZL) and Misiker Demissie (ETH) all taking charge early in the race. Smith, who trains locally in Providence, RI, is a familiar face around the Boston racing scene. She made quite a splash at this year’s Boston Marathon; taking the lead for the first 18 miles of the race before succumbing to injuries and dropping out. Today, she certainly had something to prove against the current Boston Marathon Champion in Kilel as well as Ethiopia’s Demissie. But as early as mile three, Kilel was ready to complete her Boston double, by opening up a 10 meter lead on Smith and Demissie. That lead extended to over 30 meters by mile 4, and soon Smith knew the victory was slipping away from her.
“After three miles she kind of pulled away and the gap stayed. We were gapped the whole rest of the way”, Smith said after the race. But she still seemed happy with her performance, especially here in Boston. “I run at the BU track so many times, so it felt like familiar ground”.
After comfortably pulling away from the rest of the field, Kilel made the final turn towards her victory over Smtih (32:06), and 3rd place Demissie (33:08).
Kilel, who’s 2:22:36 at the recent Boston Marathon made her the fourth fastest ever on that event’s list, had equal praise for Smith in today’s race. "The race was very nice, I like the course. "She [Kim Smith] was very strong, we were together until 8K, and then I lift and I go”, she commented after the event. "I feel good because I win the 10K! I like Boston”.
In the wake of the podium finishers, the fast times continued. Chelanga, who hung with the leaders though three miles, finished two seconds behind Mosop, taking fourth in a time of 28:31. Samuel Ndereba of Kenya finished fifth in a time of 29:01, while Shawn Forrest of Australia placed sixth in a time of 29:10. The first American citizen through the line was Joseph Chirlee of Colorado Springs, Colorado who finished in a time of 29:37. Locally, Timothy Ritchie of Brighton, Massachusetts finished tenth in a time of 30:26.
On the women’s side, Heather Cappello, a member of the B.A.A. running club, finished fourth with a time of 33:32, nearly 40 seconds ahead of the fifth place finisher Benita Willis of Australia who finished in 34:11. Katie DiCamillo of Providence, Rhode Island took sixth in a time of 34:26.
In the Men’s Wheelchair Division, Tony Nogueira of Gen Ridge, New Jersey broke the tape in 24:16 to claim victory in the inaugural event. A five-time winner of the B.A.A. Half Marathon, Nogueira is no stranger to success in Boston. With a 3:55-per-mile pace, Nogueira finished ahead of Patrick Doak of Carlisle, Massachusetts who finished in 25:27, and Gary Brendel of Sterling, MA, who finished with a time of 26:29. Brendel is the defending champion in October’s B.A.A. Half Marathon. On the women’s side, it was newcomer Bridgette Wise of Pipersville, PA who broke the tape on Charles Street in a time of 44:19. With a 7:08-per-mile pace, the 15-year-old edged out Carla Trodella of Newburyport, MA who finished in a time of 45:15. In third place was Christina Kouros of Cape Elizabeth, Maine with a 49:20.
Race recap and story by T.K. Skenderian and Marc Davis for the Boston Athletic Association