Past Boston Marathon Champions, and potential future Distance Medley winners
By Chris Lotsbom
2011 B.A.A. 10K champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel have returned to Boston with their eyes on Sunday's second annual B.A.A. 10K, ready to take to the roads of Boston's Back Bay in hopes of defending their titles from a year ago. Mutai, the 2011 Boston Marathon men's champion, and Kilel, the 2011 women's champion, are eager and ready for Sunday's race, seeking to add another chapter to their already excellent tradition of racing in Boston.
"I love Boston," said Mutai, 30, who calls the city his second home. Last year, Mutai ran 27:19 on the B.A.A. 10K course, earning a win in dominant fashion; his time was the second fastest ever run on American soil.
"For my future maybe I am looking at staying in Boston," he said with a laugh. Mutai hasn't let the disappointment of not getting selected for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team get to him.
"It hasn't stopped me in my career or in my focusing," said the world's fastest marathoner. "I am looking now to my next race. I am ok and well prepared myself [for the B.A.A. 10K]."
On Sunday, reigning B.A.A. 10K winner Kilel will toe the line with fellow Kenyan Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion. Though the two train in different parts of Kenya, they are familiar and friendly with one another.
"I come here because I like Boston," said the quiet Kilel. "I feel good. Sunday we hope the weather is good, and we will help each other."
Cherop agreed, saying "I believe I am going to run my best." The B.A.A. 10K will be Cherop's third race in the city in the past fourteen months, making her feel at home.
"I am happy and feel welcomed," the 28-year-old Cherop said, a smile bright across her face. In her last two races here, both coming in the Boston Marathon, Cherop finished third (2011) and first (2012).
Also speaking today were Sam Chelanga and Kim Smith, two top contenders for the B.A.A. Distance Medley series crown. Participating in the inaugural rendition of the three race series that combines elapsed times from April's B.A.A. 5K, Sunday's B.A.A. 10K, and October's B.A.A. Half Marathon, both have their eyes on the $100,000 first place prize given to the male and female champions in October.
"I think the Distance Medley is a special event that no one has ever started before" said Chelanga, who comes into Sunday's race atop the men's leader board by three seconds. At April's B.A.A. 5K, Chelanga battled New Hampshire's Ben True down Boylston Street towards the finish, ultimately placing second a mere two seconds behind True.
Chelanga continued: "You have the B.A.A. 5K in April which is during the marathon weekend, which gives people an icebreaker before the marathon for some of us who are not yet ready for the marathon distance. We come to Boston, we enjoy the history of the Boston Marathon and at the same time we can participate in the 5K. Then in June, it is only the second year of the B.A.A. 10K and it is already looking very good with the kind of competition that is coming in. Then to top it all off, to come back for the B.A.A. Half Marathon in October, I just think it is fun to come back here."
Smith, who is in the middle of marathon training -- she will be racing the 26.2-mile distance at the Olympic Games in London -- said the B.A.A. 10K is her final tune up before the marathon.
"I think it is going to be a good progression. This is going to be my last race before the Olympics," she said. Currently in second place on the women's leader board, Smith is in a good spot coming into Sunday's race.
"You need to be a pretty versatile athlete, and consistent to win the overall prize. I think I am pretty versatile, I can run well from the 5-K to the Half Marathon," said Smith, 30. "Hopefully things go well Sunday and I can be in the hunt for that prize."
The second annual B.A.A. 10K begins at 8:00 a.m. on Charles Street in Boston, as the top athletes compete for a prize purse of nearly $30,000. The 6.2-mile course is a scenic tour through Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. Starting on Charles Street, the race winds down picturesque Commonwealth Avenue and Bay State Road as far west as Babcock Street near Boston University, before heading back on Commonwealth Avenue, around the Public Garden, and finishing on Charles Street.
Below is a Transcript from Today’s B.A.A. Media Conference Call, June 22, 2012
GEOFFREY MUTAI – 2011 Boston Marathon Champion and 2011 B.A.A. 10K Champion
On his racing experience in Boston …For me, this is not only my will; it was the will of God that I am here. I thank God to be here again. Last year, it was different because [of the] weather. Last year, it was good in [the] marathon. For me, I never liked running in the humid conditions in a marathon. Maybe a 10K or half marathon.
On racing in hot weather at the 2012 Boston Marathon …When we arrived here, [the weather] was already changing. We had to adapt. But it affected me a lot, so I cannot say anything about this year’s marathon. For me it was not planned like that. But I thank God because I am okay, and I am here again … So I am going on with my events.
On his fitness this year compared to 2011 …[The] Boston Marathon this year was not affecting me. I dropped out maybe, but it was not affecting me; it was only humid. I am in shape, maybe like last year again. I have been competing in my competitions in Kenya like the other [years]. I have already run 10 kilometers last month, so I am okay. [Note: Mutai won the Ottawa 10K in 27:42 in May]
On not being selected for the 2012 Summer Olympics … I am not there, but it has not stopped me in my career or my focusing. I am still focusing. I am looking, now, to my next race. So I am okay, and I am well-prepared, myself. … I am focusing for my next events and next marathon.
On Boston being like a second home …It’s true because I am me again. Every time, when I hear that, in Boston, there is a race and they invited me, I’m organized and I’m focusing for it. … It’s not even a competition for me. It’s like a welcoming. Even when I was coming here, I told my family I’m going to the home of my daughter, Marieke. When she was born, I was in Boston. So I told them, “When you celebrate your birthday, I am in your home.”
CAROLINE KILEL – 2011 Boston Marathon and B.A.A. 10K Champion
On her experience in Boston and racing Sharon Cherop …I come here because I like Boston … I feel good, but Sunday we hope the weather is good. We help each other.
SHARON CHEROP – 2012 Boston Marathon Champion
On returning to Boston as the Boston Marathon champion … First of all, I thank you, the organizers of this race, the B.A.A. 10K, for welcoming me again back to Boston. It is my third time coming to Boston. This year, Boston [Marathon] was humid, but I tried my best and it was God’s grace. Last year, too, I ran again in a humid place in Korea [at the IAAF World Championships Marathon] since we all remember that I was on a World Championships team.
On returning for the B.A.A. 10K … It was not in my plan. I heard last year from Geoffrey Mutai that there is also a 10K in Boston. After winning in the Boston Marathon, I decided that, I wish to come back again.
On the conditions and competition … This is my third time in Boston. In 2011, I was here, and then I came again this year. I’m happy for the warm welcome. But I think for 10K [the weather] doesn’t matter so much because it’s a short race. It’s not like a marathon. I believe I am going to run to my best.
SAM CHELANGA – Current Leader, 2012 B.A.A. Distance Medley, 14-time NCAA All-American
On what it means to participate in the B.A.A Distance Medley …I think the Distance Medley is a special event that – nobody has done it before. I know people see the $100,000 in it, but I see the way it’s spread out though the year. Because, if you think about it, you have the 5K in April – which is during the Marathon Weekend – which gives people an opportunity to kind of have an icebreaker before the Marathon. Some of us are not yet ready for the marathon. So we come to Boston, we enjoy the history of the Marathon, and then at the same time, we get to participate in the 5K. And then, June, I’m in the 10K. … It’s already looking very good with the kind of competition that is coming in for this year. … And, to top it all off, you come back in October with the half marathon. And I still think that it’s fun to just come back here, especially for me, because my in-laws are from Plymouth. Plus, as you know, I have got a lot of history in this city with my brother coming here back in the day.
Being in Boston is the best experience, and one day we’re all going to look back and say, “It was amazing.” To win 100 grand is a bonus.
On his friendship with Wesley Korir … This year, it was also amazing because Wesley Korir and I had been really close friends in college and we share a lot of things in life. You know, we’re all trying to, like, either make it big or go home and help people in Kenya. I just remember talking to him before the marathon. And him winning the Boston Marathon – which, in my own estimation is the biggest marathon in the world – and this guy went through the same [college] system. Some of us went to school. We didn’t have so much time to train as elite before we came out of college. So he was living proof that coming to school – and not skipping college and going pro, because most Kenyans do that – it gives people hope back in Kenya … that you can go to school, and still you can be Boston Marathon champion.
On racing tactics for the B.A.A. Distance Medley … Personally, I thought that given that the distance between [the 5K and 10K] is not that long, unless you’re Geoffrey Mutai, you can’t put somebody one minute [behind you]. You’re talking about maybe thirty seconds or under. My mindset is, if you’re going to really win this thing decisively, it’s going to come to the half marathon. I’m still thinking about it the same. Just keep it steady, and do not let those guys pass me by a lot. Or just keep leading and then run the half marathon strongly. It’s just going to come down to running smart and patiently, because at the end of the day, you never know what to expect in any race. I’m taking it steady, and I’m just going to make sure that I do what I can to make sure that I’m in a good position.
On being familiar with the course … I think it just helps to know that this is the second time here. I’m coming back. So, with experience, I think we should be able to run more comfortably and relaxed. Usually, that’s when good times come.
On racing the 2011 B.A.A. 10K …I just came out of college, and being a rookie, you think that you’ve got something going on … I learned something. It takes a lot of trials to be able to learn and be calm. That’s what I took from last year’s race. This year, I learned that I got to be patient. Geoffrey Mutai didn’t like me running behind him [last year]. That’s what he told me. So I know now: don’t run behind Geoffrey [laughs].
On what he might do with $100,000 in prize money …God willing, if I win 100 grand – I just got married, I’m young and I’m going to have a family. So I’m going to save it for my child. I’m going to put it for education or something.
KIM SMITH – Currently Second, 2012 B.A.A. Distance Medley
On competing in the B.A.A. Distance Medley … I’m not going to lie, when I heard there was a race for $100,000 in Boston, I didn’t really have to think twice about wanting to come and do it. I think [the Distance Medley] is a great idea – something new and different that hasn’t been done before. You have to be a pretty versatile athlete – and consistent – to win the overall prize. I think I’m pretty versatile. I can run pretty well from 5K to the half marathon … Hopefully it will go well on Sunday and I can be right up there to be in that hunt for that prize.
On the B.A.A. 10K and the London Olympics …I think it’s going to be good preparation because this is going to be my last race before the Olympics. Boston just being 50 minutes up the road, it’s not really disrupting anything with traveling. So I’m getting in some hard training … At the end of July, I’ll be going over to London. And then – coming back – have a little break and get ready for the half marathon and then I have the New York Marathon. So it’s definitely going to be a busy time in the next few months.
On training in Providence, Rhode Island … I feel comfortable here. I’ve been living in Providence for ten years now. I have training partners here. Molly Huddle, the American 5K record holder lives in Providence as well, so we do all our training together and we’re just comfortable here.
On her chances in the Olympic Games Marathon …I hope that I have a breakout performance. Everyone does in the Olympics. I definitely think I have more in me in the marathon. My half marathon [personal best] indicates a lot better than what my marathon time is. … Hopefully, I will get it right at the Olympics. Everyone’s getting faster and the fields are getting much deeper, so it’s definitely going to be a very tough, tough race.
On B.A.A. Distance Medley Tactics … I definitely found the 5K pretty tough. I hadn’t done a 5K road race in a long, long time. I don’t go much faster in a 5K road race than I do in a 10[K] or half marathon, so I think as the distances go up, it’s definitely going to be to my advantage. I just definitely feel more comfortable over the longer distances.