KIM SMITH SETS COURSE RECORD AT B.A.A. 10K
By Michael Keebler
A beautiful summer morning greeted 4,576 runners gathering on Boston Common for the 2nd annual B.A.A. 10K on June 24. As the runners toed the line at 8:00 a.m. under bright and sunny skies, the conditions were set for fast running, with a temperature of 74.4 degrees, 42% humidity, and very low winds.
The elite women stuck together in the early stages of the race, making their way through Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and heading down scenic Commonwealth Avenue. The women ran in a tightly bunched pack that included Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros and Kim Smith, of New Zealand.
Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion, and Caroline Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion and defending B.A.A. 10K champion, were also among the contenders in the early goings. They were joined by Kenyan compatriots, Jelliah Tinega and Chemtai Rionoukei. The leaders passed the one mile mark in 5:04, with American Lindsey Scherf on their heels.
New Zealand native and Providence, RI-native Smith was content with the relaxed pace in the opening miles. Comparing this year’s race to last year’s, where she placed second in 32:08, Smith said, “definitely, going out a little easier helped.”
Smith and Kiros appeared to be feeding off one another, coming through 5K tied at 15:58. In the fourth mile, Kiros tried to push the pace on Smith, who responded well.
"I kind of just sat in for the first 5K and then Kiros pushed the fourth mile a little bit and I went with her," Smith said. "I thought she was tiring a little bit, so then I surged a little bit and dropped her. I like to run alone and push on, so that kind of suited me."
Once she had room to run alone, Smith never looked back. Finding some daylight, Smith passed the four-mile mark in 20:23, opening a gap on Kiros and Cherop. Behind them, the chase pack strung out. By five miles, Smith opened a 12-second lead on Kiros. With just one kilometer to go, she extended her lead to 15 seconds.
Fueled by the cheers of the crowd, the New Englander could not be denied over the race’s final stages. Smith went on to win convincingly, setting a new course record of 31:36.
"Being local, I think I knew a lot of people in the race,” Smith said with a smile after her victory. “I felt like everyone was kind of cheering for me."
Smith’s time was 22 seconds ahead of Caroline Kilel’s record of 31:36, which she ran at the inaugural B.A.A. 10K last year. Kiros also finished inside of Kilel’s former course record, running 31:57. Cherop rounded out the top three in 32:03.
With the B.A.A. 10K in the history books, Smith will turn her attention to the Olympic Games in London, where she will compete in the marathon. After that race, she will return to Boston for B.A.A. Half Marathon, the third and final race of the inaugural B.A.A. Distance Medley.
The B.A.A. Distance Medley incorporates the B.A.A. 5K, B.A.A. 10K, and B.A.A. Half Marathon to crown one overall male and female champion based on total elapsed time across all three races.
After her convincing win today, Smith has taken sole possession of first place on the B.A.A. Distance Medley leaderboard with a cumulative time of 47:03. Kiros sits in second, just 15 seconds behind Smith. Tinega is in third, 1:15 behind Smith.
Excited about her victory today, Smith spoke briefly about her outlook on the B.A.A. Distance Medley.
"I don’t know if there’s ever been anything like this before. When I heard about it, I was definitely really excited, especially the fact that it’s in Boston. It’s just down the road. Anytime there’s a $100,000 prize, it’s exciting. It’s really exciting for the sport that the B.A.A. has put this on, and I’m really grateful for that," she said.
The twelfth annual B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, will be held on Sunday, October 7 in Boston's Franklin Park. Registration will open on July 18, 2012.