Kim Smith Kicks off Medley Defense with B.A.A 5K Win
Story by Barbara Huebner
It may be a cliché, but it’s also the truth: Picking up right where she left off, defending B.A.A. Distance Medley champion Kim Smith won the B.A.A. 5K on Sunday morning in dominating fashion, crossing the line in 15:16 for the victory and the early lead in the three-race series.
Calling the 5K her weakest distance in the series, the three-time Olympian from New Zealand, who lives and trains in Providence, RI, said, “It’s nice to have a win today. The longer it goes, the stronger I get.”
Both the male and female winners of the B.A.A. Distance Medley, based on fastest cumulative time, are awarded $100,000.
Finishing second in the 5K was Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya, in 15:23, with American Molly Huddle - Smith’s training partner - third in 15:28. Last year’s 5K champion, Ethiopia’s Werknesh Kidane, was fourth this year, in 15:32.
Mimi Fallon, 47, of nearby Walpole, MA, won the women’s master’s division in 18:00. Winning her age group was Karen Smyers, 51, of Lincoln, MA, the 1995 Hawaiian Ironman World Champion.
Trying to repeat, Kidane went out hard on the flat loop course, which begins on Boylston Street, passes landmarks including the Boston Common and Boston Garden, and finishes at the historic Boston Marathon finish line. Smith and Chepkurui gave chase, and the three hit the first mile in 4:48.
“It went out pretty fast,” said Huddle, the American record-holder at 5000 meters and current U.S 5K road champion. “I know what fitness [Kim] is in, so I knew to stay a little bit back from her.”
Indeed, Smith soon pulled ahead, and stayed there, running the second mile in 4:59 and the third in 4:54.
It’s a better Distance Medley start for Smith than last year, when she finished third in the 5K in 15:26. After rebounding for a convincing win in the B.A.A. 10K in June, the 31-year-old took a solid lead into October’s B.A.A. Half Marathon presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. As the owner of a 1:07:11 personal best in the half marathon - the fastest ever run in U.S. soil - Smith went into that race a heavy favorite and came out with a win by nearly two minutes and a check for $100,000.
Despite finishing second on Sunday, Chepkurui pronounced herself pleased with the outcome. The 25-year-old Kenyan, who has been battling a back injury for the last two years, won this race in 2011.
“I kept up for three miles,” she said, but then couldn’t match the pace. “I am happy to be second.”
The fifth-annual B.A.A. 5K saw its largest field this year, with 5,649 finishers. The B.A.A. Distance Medley resumes with the B.A.A.10K on June 23. Registration for that event begins on Wednesday, May 1.