Luke Metto, 28, of Kenya, beat countryman Wilson Kigen, 24, in a sprint on the old style cinder track at the race’s finish at Roberto Clemente Field in Boston’s Back Bay Fens neighborhood. The 2004 winner and runner-up were both officially timed in one hour, two minutes, 57 seconds, and third place finisher Abderrahim Haji, 26, of Morocco, was only one second back in 1:02:58. The first four finishers--Gilbert Koech, 24, of Kenya, placed fourth in 1:03:03--all ran faster than the course record (2003; Laban Kipkemboi, 25, Kenya, 1:03:04).
Mark Carroll, 32, of Ireland and who resides in Providence, Rhode Island, led the men’s race in the early going, running 5:04 for the opening mile. The Irish Olympian and Providence College graduate, who is training for the Fukuoka (Japan) Marathon in December, had an 18-second margin over the rest of the field by the one mile mark, and a 21-second margin by Mile Two (9:49).
Metto, Kigen, Haji, and Koech, along with Kenyans Isaac Arusei, Samuel Ndereba, Ronald Mogaka and New Zealander Jason Woolhouse and Irishman Vinny Mulvey all ran in the chase pack. Carroll increased his lead by as much as 28 seconds by the third mile (14:52) before the pack began to close. By the four mile mark (19:43), Carroll’s lead had closed to a mere 10 seconds, and by the fifth mile (entering Franklin Park), Metto and Kibet were running along side him.
The six-mile mark and the race turnaround are within the picturesque Franklin Park Zoo, one of the course highlights. Lead vehicles are not allowed in the zoo gates, as they would disturb the animals, so runners find themselves on their own as they run approximately one half mile on a narrow path of asphalt and dirt. Exiting the zoo and heading back towards the Fenway, Kibet and Metto ran abreast of each other while the aforementioned other six comprised the pack just off the lead pace. By this time, Carroll trailed by 30 seconds.
Metto made a move on a downhill exiting Franklin Park (7 miles), but by the eighth mile he again had company in the persons of Kigen, Ndereba, Kibet, Koech, and Haji. It was there that Kigen motioned the pack to quicken the pace (they ran a 4:30 mile from mile 7 to 8), and it was down to four (Metto, Kibet, Kigen, and Koech with what appeared to be Haji being able to just barely hold on) by the nine mile mark. Through the tenth mile, not much changed in the lead pack, as they only began to drop Ndereba more rapidly. The eleventh mile saw Metto make another attempt to break up the pack. He surged, Kigen was able to cover it, but Kibet, Koech, and Haji were forced to play catch-up, but now they were running in single file.
Over the last mile, the course makes a perimeter loop around the Fenway, and Metto began a long kick with 600 meters to the finish. Koech succumbed early but Kigen and Haji continued to fight. Even with 100 meters remaining, it was too close to call, but by the tape Metto held a one meter advantage over Kigen with Haji right there, as well.
Tony Noguiera, 36, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, who won the push rim wheelchair division in 2003, improved his time by 4:36, finishing the 2004 race in 53:07. He broke the course record, bettering his own time of 57:43 last year.
Luke Metto (KEN), 1st Place
“After the fifth mile, we tried to push the pace and break the group.”
“Most races I have run have been quite hot. This was a medium race. It was a little bit cold when we started, but it is good now.”
“I run about 100 miles per week. I have been running half marathons for five years, since 1999.”
Wilson Kigen (KEN), 2nd Place
”I am used to training with [Luke] in Albuquerque (NM). When we train together, sometimes I go in front and sometimes he goes in front.”
Mark Carroll (IRL), 9th Place
“I led for about 5 miles--maybe they [the lead pack] hadn't had their coffee yet.”
“For me, at this point, coming off of heavy training, it made sense to stay at a smooth pace instead of switching gears. I tried to go out with an even tempo--my average pace was 5:04.”
“This is my fourth half marathon in two years. It takes a while to get used to hurting yourself for that long. I came into the race with heavy legs.”