In the men’s race, for the first seven miles a lead pack of five ran together, including last year’s champion Wayne Levy; last year’s fifth place finisher, Ryan LaFleur, of Boston; Michael Richardson, of Providence, RI; Seth McClennen, of Newton, Mass.; and Hinga.
Exiting Fenway Park after the first mile, the group of five quickly established a 50-yard lead over the next pack of runners. They remained tightly bunched into Brookline, around Jamaica Pond, along the Arborway and over the Forest Hills overpass. Then, just as the heavy mist changed to light drizzle (30 minutes into the race), the group ran its slowest mile of the day from mile five to mile six. Levy, the inaugural men’s champion, briefly lost contact in Franklin Park, and that may have been the first indication to the other four contenders that he wasn’t destined to repeat. Hinga, perhaps sensing a weakness among them, bolted.
The five--Hinga, LaFleur, Richardson, Levy, McClennen--entered the zoo together, but Hinga emerged with a lead of 50 yards. The approximately half-mile run through the zoo broke the field, and Hinga didn’t let up. Self-described “strong on downhills” Hinga made the gradual slope down and out of Franklin Park pay off for him with his fastest split time of the day (4:56 between miles seven and eight). LaFleur and Richardson were left 15 seconds back with Levy and McClennen separated another few steps behind the pair.
LaFleur said after the race, “He [Hinga] just took off. I kept pushing, but he had already broken contact with us. I wouldn’t say that I conceded the race to him at that point, I just couldn’t catch him.”
In fact, Richardson and LaFleur--who, along with Levy, all are members of the Boston Athletic Association’s running club--did try to catch Hinga, with LaFleur doing the best to close the gap. They had a chance during the race’s latter stages with fewer rolling hills. At 10 miles, Hinga’s held a mere 20 second lead over LaFleur, who by now had a three-second lead over third placer Richardson. Richardson, whose previous longest race was 15-kilometers (9.3 miles), found himself in uncharted territory for the rest of the race and faded slightly during the final three miles. LaFleur, on the other hand, still was only 21 seconds behind Hinga at 12 miles, but he ran out of real estate.
After the race, runner-up LaFleur (1:10:09) spoke about his one minute, 33 second improvement from the previous year. “Early in the race, no one wanted to take the pace which is why we were running relatively slow,” he said. “I was afraid to because I had difficulty over the second half of the course last year. I guess in retrospect that played into Hinga’s hands.”
Hinga, a citizen of Kenya who has resided in the United States for the last eight years, officially entered the race this past Friday. The Lowell, Mass. resident defied odds to get to the starting line after a case of the chicken pox two weeks ago forced him to take completely off running followed by an easy week. Intending to run the Cape Cod Marathon at the end of October, Hinga hoped to log a solid “tempo” run as part of his training. The Whirlaway Racing Team member said after the race that he is “more worried about running good races, running smart and running well” than he is about winning. Sunday he did all of the above.
Richardson held on for third place (1:10:45), while McClennen finished fourth in 1:12:03.
Men’s elapsed time for leader(s): Mile One (inside Fenway Park), 5:30; Mile Two, 10:49; Mile Three, 16:15; Mile Four, 21:52; Mile Five, 27:13; Mile Six, 32:47; Mile Seven (inside Franklin Park Zoo), 38:22; Mile Eight, 43:17; Mile Nine, 48:25; Mile Ten, 53:39; Mile Eleven, 58:49; Mile Twelve, 1:04:03; Finish (13.1 miles), 1:09:47.
Tim Kelly, of Weymouth, Mass., won the men’s wheelchair division for the second straight year with a time of 1:06:51. He beat runner-up Erik Corbett, of Methuen, Mass. (1:14:38) and third place finisher Christopher Ahearn, of Roslindale, Mass. (1:28:59). Ahearn was runner-up last year.
The Boston Athletic Association won both the men’s and women’s open team titles, as well as the men’s masters division team title, for the second consecutive year.
- By Jack Fleming