An overnight downpour had eased to a light, chilly rain by the time 3,082 hardy runners took to the starting line of the fifth annual B.A.A. Half Marathon, with a flock of Canada geese providing a flyover befitting the Emerald Necklace course just as Mayor Tom Menino – the official starter – was offering a little coaching.
“Don’t get wet,” he advised the runners as they waited for the 8 a.m. starting horn. “Run through the raindrops.”
Running fastest through those raindrops was Celedonio Rodriguez, a three-time Division II national champion out of Adams State College, who shocked a world-class field when he ran away from them early and fearlessly to win in a personal best 1 hour, 4 minutes and 9 seconds. Rodriguez was born in Mexico, but grew up in the United States before starring at Adams State in Alamosa, Colo., where he still lives and trains. This was his first victory as a professional--and his first as an American citizen, which he became just two weeks ago.
On the women’s side, Nataliya Berkut of Ukraine finally pulled away from American Jen Rhines just past the 10-mile mark for victory in 1:12:21. Berkut represented her country in the 2004 Olympics and is the national record-holder at both 5000 and 10,000 meters. Rhines, a two-time U.S. Olympian, is also the reigning U.S. 15K road champion.
Although few of the elite athletes cited the chilly and rainy conditions as affecting their races, Kenya’s Samuel Ndereba, runner-up in 1:04:21, was shivering afterward, his hand shaking as he tried to steady a hot drink. The brother of four-time Boston Marathon winner Catherine, the ever-cheerful Ndereba said the weather was among the worst in which he’s ever raced. His huge smile, however, never flickered.
It was a smile reflected on the faces of many of the 3,072 official finishers, happy to have gotten out of bed during a rainstorm to make their way along Park Drive, past Jamaica Pond, into the Franklin Park Zoo and then back to the welcome–and by now dry–finish line.
Wayne Levy of Newton, Mass., won the inaugural B.A.A. Half Marathon in 2001 in 1:10:56. Yesterday, the 40-year-old Levy won the master’s division in 1:12:50, meaning the Director of Community Relations for the Boston Celtics will go down in history in two separate categories of the record books. “The race obviously has special meaning to me, being a B.A.A. member for many years and winning the first race,” he said. “I can’t imagine not competing in this race every fall.” As for turning 40 in June, Levy said it’s rejuvenated his running. He’s finished among the top master’s runners in several big New England races this fall. “It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “This is probably one of the few times you’re happy to get a year older.”
The 2005 race saw two new winners in the wheelchair division. Winning on the men’s side in 57:18 was 28-year-old Mark Ledo of Maple, Ontario; the women’s winner was April Coughlin, 26, from New York City in 1:22:50.
Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova, going strong at 44, set a course record of 1:15:19 in winning the women’s masters division. She finished third overall, but she was thrilled with neither her time nor the weather. “I had leg spasms,” she said. “I did not like the weather. I live in Gainesville and the conditions are much better.” Nonetheless, she now holds the female masters course records for both this race and the Boston Marathon.
Two-time Olympic marathon medalist Valentina Yegorova, the defending masters champ here, was second masters and fifth overall in 1:18:07.
Runner-up Samuel Ndereba said he planned to give his older sister a call later in the day to fill her in on the race. He wasn’t likely to tell her anything about the city of Boston she didn’t already know, however: Catherine Ndereba, the reigning Olympic silver medalist at 26.2 miles, earlier this year became the first woman to win the Boston Marathon four times.
Dawn Timlin, wife of Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin and a familiar face on the Boston road-running scene, finished in 1:49:15. She finished the Boston Marathon this spring in 4:09:42.
The Boston Athletic Association Running Club won the overall men’s and women’s team titles and the men’s master’s team title. The Merrimack Valley Striders won the women’s master’s division team title to prevent a B.A.A. sweep.
With a temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit and a light rain at the race’s start (8:00 a.m.), the 2005 edition of the 13.1-mile road race marked the fourth time in the event’s five-year history that runners had to contend with precipitation.
A portion of each entry fee benefits the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the organization charged with overseeing Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace park system in Boston and Brookline.
Nearly 300 Dana-Farber Runners ran to raise money in a fund-raising effort for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The Fifth B.A.A. Half Marathon was presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund and was also sponsored by adidas, PowerBar/PowerGel, Gatorade Endurance Formula, Long’s Jewelers, Veryfine, Belmont Springs Water and Fruit 2o.
The organizing Boston Athletic Association offers special thanks to the City of Boston, Town of Brookline, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Franklin Park Zoo, and the hundreds of volunteers who helped administer the race.
Written by Barbara Huebner, with Peter Brown, Frank Shorr, Terry Shea, Jack Afarian, Bob Murdock, Andy MacDonald, Chris Lane, Ron Glennon and Jen Mena.