By Chris Lotsbom
Thirteen months ago, New Zealand’s Kim Smith was far ahead of the rest of the field in the Boston Marathon. Cruising through Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, and into Newton, Smith seemed ready to capture New Zealand’s first women’s Boston Marathon title since 1984. Then tragedy struck soon after 30 kilometers.
Smith suffered a grade II tear of her left soleus, a powerful calf muscle that greatly is used when running. Forced to drop out, Smith was heart broken.
“My calf felt a little tight before the start, but nothing too significant,” Smith told Running Times shortly after the injury occurred. “But around 15 miles it just seized up all of a sudden, no warning. I tried to keep running, figuring it might work itself out, even changed by stride and tried to run more on my heels, but it didn’t go away. It hurt, but not that bad — it actually felt worse the next day.”
Since that fateful day in April of 2011, Smith has fully recovered and regained her position as one of the best runners in the world. Training and residing in Providence, R.I., Smith often races in the Boston area, and is participating in this year’s B.A.A. Distance Medley, the three race series which includes the B.A.A. 5K, B.A.A. 10K, and B.A.A. Half Marathon.
“I’m excited to be running this series in Boston here. It should be fun,” said Smith in April, a day prior to her third place finish in the B.A.A. 5K. Smith returns to the streets of Back Bay Sunday, trying to improve upon her runner-up showing at last year’s B.A.A. 10K.
If she finishes more than five seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros, then the 30-year-old Kiwi will take over the women’s leader board; the leader after all three races are complete will earn $100,000.
“It’s always fun to come to Boston. Particularly the fans here are pretty good, I think the best fans around,” said Smith two months ago.
Already named to the New Zealand Olympic team, Smith hopes to head to London with a B.A.A. 10K win in her back pocket. If she wins on Sunday, it will be another great step in the right direction for the local favorite.