Boston, Mass. - A record field of 3,591 runners completed the seventh annual B.A.A. Half Marathon presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund this morning. Unseasonably balmy weather greeted runners as they made their way to Roberto Clemente Field in the early morning hours. However, cooler air blew in by race time, with the temperature sitting at a comfortable 68 degrees when the gun sounded at 8:00 a.m.
The early aggressor in the strong men’s field was former Providence College star Martin Fagan (IRL / Flagstaff, AZ), 24, in his half marathon debut. Fagan led the pack through the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7-mile points right on course-record pace.
When asked if he planned to run aggressively from the start, Fagan admitted to being unsure of an exact plan. “I’ve been experimenting with altitude training,” said Fagan, who recently relocated to Flagstaff, AZ. “I wasn’t really sure what shape I was in, but from the gun I felt strong.”
After seven miles, Fagan’s time in front ended as defending champion Samuel Ndereba (KEN / Norristown, PA), 30, and Tom Nyariki (KEN / Boulder, CO), 36, took over and quickly strung out the pack with a blazing 4:26 eighth mile--the fastest split of the race.
The race quickly became a two-man affair, and Nyariki and Ndereba needed nearly every inch of the final five miles to determine a winner. Nyariki, owner of the fastest personal best in the field (1:01:22), repeatedly tried to shake Ndereba. “I tried to move from him whenever he came close, but he’s a strong man,” Nyariki said following the race. Meanwhile, Ndereba was concerned about waiting too long to drop a man who once was one of the fastest 5,000m runners in the world. “This guy is a fast runner!” Ndereba said, with a big grin, afterward.
Despite the efforts of both men, however, the race did come down to a sprint as they charged toward the finish on Clemente Field together. Nyariki, calling upon his superior speed, finally pulled ahead in the final 50 meters for a one-second victory. Both Nyariki (1:02:20) and Ndereba (1:02:21) finished well under the previous course record of 1:02:57 (Luke Metto, 2004).
While the men had a pack of six in the early going, Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 27, and Caroline Chepkorir (KEN), 20, were alone in front of the women’s race from the gun. It was the veteran versus the rookie. Kiplagat, a top competitor for more than a decade, has enjoyed one of her finest seasons ever in 2007, with victories at the Lilac Bloomsday 12K, Bay to Breakers 12K, and Bolder Boulder 10K earlier this year. Chepkorir, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the U.S. roads, and only ran her first half marathon a few weeks ago.
The two women matched strides out to the Franklin Park Zoo, reaching the turn-around together and heading back toward the finish. As in the men’s race, the decisive move came in the eighth mile as Kiplagat began to ease away from her compatriot, gradually building a lead. Kiplagat broke the tape in 1:13:36, with Chepkorir following 28 seconds behind in 1:14:04, then Kathy Newberry (Williamsburg, VA), 29, rounding out the top three in 1:16:44.
The top three entrants in the men’s push rim wheelchair division each owned two previous B.A.A. Half Marathon titles. Timothy Kelly (Weymouth, MA), 40, won in 2001 and 2002, and has competed in all seven editions of the race. Tony Nogueira (Glen Ridge, NJ), 39, took the next two crowns, in 2003 and 2004. In the past two years, Mark Ledo (Maple, Ontario), 30, has taken the title. Emerging from the field to become the division’s first three-time champion was Nogueira, who finished in 54:19, the second-fastest winning time in event history. Ledo was runner-up in 56:02, with Kelly third in 1:04:28.
Jacqui Kapinowski (Pt. Pleasant, NJ), 44, won the women’s push rim wheelchair division for the first time, finishing in 1:22:17.
Three hundred and ten runners competed for the Dana-Farber Runners, adding to the more than $1.3 million raised by Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund at this event over the past five years.
59 athletes entered in the 2007 B.A.A. Half Marathon had completed all six previous editions of the race. They included inaugural champions Wayne Levy and Sarah Nixon, and two-time push rim wheelchair champ Timothy Kelly.
3,591 finishers is a new event record. The previous high was 3,482 in 2006.
21,873 runners have now crossed the finish line in the history of the B.A.A. Half Marathon.
The B.A.A. Running Club’s men’s and women’s open teams each won titles, the seventh consecutive year the club has swept the open team races.
Compiled with assistance from Peter Brown, Lars Dietrich, Suzanne Walmsley, Nick O'Malley, and Rich Murray.
Tom Nyariki (KEN) 1:02:20 (course record)
Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 1:13:26
Henry Scollard (MA) 1:15:07
Lucy Canavan (MA) 1:32:07
Tony Nogueira (NJ) 54:19
Jacqui Kapinowski (NJ) 1:22:17