By Chris Lotsbom
Defending Champion Returns: Ali Abdosh, last year's B.A.A. Half Marathon winner, returns hoping to make it two in a row. In 2011, the Ethiopian was challenged throughout the race by Sam Chelanga, who is also entered. Both would like to win the B.A.A. Half Marathon, but they also have an even bigger title on their minds: the B.A.A. Distance Medley.
Sprint for the Men's B.A.A. Distance Medley Title: Four men -- Ali Abdosh, Sam Chelanga, Allan Kiprono, and Lani Rutto -- all are within six seconds of each other atop the men's leaderboard, making the B.A.A. Half Marathon that much more important in their quest for $100,000.
Local Smith Hoping to take Women's Distance Medley: New Zealand's Kim Smith, who has lived and trained for the last ten years in Providence, R.I., will try and become the women's B.A.A. Distance Medley champion. Heading into the race, Smith has a 16 second lead; she won the second race of the three-event series, the B.A.A. 10K, in a new course record.
Inaugural Distance Medley Participants: At the B.A.A. Half Marathon, 1098 entrants aim to complete the final race of the first B.A.A. Distance Medley. The B.A.A. Distance Medley is a new three race series that combines times from the B.A.A. 5K, the B.A.A. 10K, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon, awarding the male and female with the lowest cumulative time $100,000.
American Women: Only three times has an American won the women's race at the B.A.A. Half Marathon, the most recent coming last year as Janet Cherobon-Bawcom broke the finishing tape in 1:11:58. Can Cherobon-Bawcom, a 2012 Olympian, defend her title, or will another American claim the top spot on the podium? Only time will tell!
Course Beauty: Always something to look forward to is the beautiful 13.1-mile B.A.A. Half Marathon course. The rolling, out-and-back route runs along the Emerald Necklace park system, beginning and ending at White Stadium in Boston’s Franklin Park. Proceeding out of Franklin Park, over the Monsignor William Casey Overpass, and past the Arnold Arboretum and Jamaica Pond, runners return and re-enter Franklin Park, looping around animal enclosures in the Franklin Park Zoo before finishing on the track in White Stadium. Here is a course map and video overview: http://www.baa.org/races/half-marathon/participant-information/course-map.aspx
Surpassing 40,000: With this year's B.A.A. Half Marathon, the race will surpass 40,000 finishers in its twelve year history. Entering the race, 39,239 runners have crossed the finish line in the past eleven editions, making the race the second most popular B.A.A. event behind the Boston Marathon. In each successive year, the race has grown in entrants.
Event Records in Danger: Though the B.A.A. Half Marathon course is challenging, the event records for both the men's and women's races are fast. For the men, Tom Nyariki of Kenya holds the record at 1:02:20, while fellow compatriot Caroline Rotich has the women's event record at 1:10:52. Both marks could be in jeopardy, especially considering many elites will be running for the B.A.A. Distance Medley prize.
Can Nogueira Continue His Dominance?: Wheelchair competitor Tony Nogueira has won the B.A.A. Half Marathon six times, including last year. The New Jersey resident also has the event record at 53:07. Can he make it seven wins in twelve years?
Running for Charity: Behind the elites are always hundreds of charity runners, many competing for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Running the Race Against Cancer Team. Last year, the Dana-Farber athletes raised more than $300,000 to help fund scientists and clinicians at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The B.A.A. Half Marathon is presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.
Koech Going For Masters Record: If Joseph Koech wins the Men's Masters Division, he will be crowned champion for the fourth year in a row. Koech has the second fastest master's performance ever recorded at the B.A.A. Half Marathon with his 1:07:42 mark in 2009. In his age division, Koech finished sixth at April's Boston Marathon and third at June's B.A.A. 10K.
Team Competition: Another streak on the line is that of the Boston Athletic Association club's winning ways at the B.A.A. Half Marathon. The B.A.A. Club team has captured the men's and women's team competition for each of the previous eleven runnings of the event. In 2011, the men won by more than 50 minutes, while the women won by more than 30 minutes. The lowest aggregate time of three team members comprises the team's score.
Ten Year Anniversary: This year's B.A.A. Half Marathon marks the ten year anniversary of the 2002 race, when the event cracked the 3,000 finisher mark for the first time and Boston running legend Bill Rodgers won the men's masters division. Also in 2002, Sarah Nixon successfully defended her title from the year before, and the course ran through Fenway Park.
And the final .1 is You!: Make sure to register for the B.A.A. Half Marathon on Wednesday, July 18.