October 26, 2003 - Keith Kelly, of Ireland, defended his title while Kate O’Neill, originally from Milton, Mass. won her first Mayor’s Cup championship at Boston’s Franklin Park.
Kelly, 26, who resides in Providence, Rhode Island and represents New Balance, beat runner-up Alan Webb, 21, of Fairfax, Virginia (Nike), by 36 seconds. Kelly’s time of 23:19 over 8-kilometers was 29-seconds faster than he ran for the same 8k (23:48) in 2002 when he took home his first Mayor’s Cup Revere bowl.
Passing the mile mark in 4:32, Kelly led Karl Savage, 24, of ZAP Fitness in North Carolina; Paul Mwangi, 36, of Westchester Track Club in New York; and Webb. By two miles, Kelly (9:18) had taken a seven-second lead over Webb (9:25) and the field, consisting of chasers Savage, Mwangi and--farther back--John Mortimer, 27, of the Boston Athletic Association and Jamaica Plain, Mass.; Vinny Mulvey, 25, of Ireland; and Providence resident Cain Williams, 28, of the B.A.A.
Kelly extended his lead during the first time that the course led runners through the so-called “wilderness” loop, emerging from the woods with a lead that he extended to 18 seconds (14:37 to 14:55) over Webb and Mwangi by 5-kilometers. By that time, Savage had faded, and Mortimer ran in fourth place 15:13, trailed by Mulvey in fifth and Williams in sixth.
Any question of whether Kelly would receive a late challenge was answered when Kelly hit the four mile mark (18:52), having placed even more distance between himself and Webb (19:17), who then ran alone in second. Mwangi (19:24) trailed Webb by seven seconds with Mortimer (19:28) another four seconds behind in fourth.
Kelly’s long, loping stride seems to have closed just a bit from three years ago when he made his first major impression in the U.S. in winning the 2000 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, but the Providence College graduate's dominance has remained intact. He cruised a final time over the course’s landmark, Bear Cage Hill, while the gap between the five finishers behind him remained similar over the final half of the race: Webb (second place, 23:55), Mwangi (third place, 24:02), Mortimer (fourth place, 24:08), Mulvey (fifth, 24:21) and Williams (sixth, 24:25).
A field of 180 finishers ran in the men’s championship race, and the Boston Athletic Association--led by Mortimer and Williams--put all five of its scorers among the top 30 finishers overall to regain control of the Squires Cup, presented to the winning team. Bryn Mawr (Penn.) Running Company, last year’s team champion, placed second this year, finishing five points behind the B.A.A. with a score of 50 to 55. The B.A.A. men last won the men’s championship in 2001. Thirteen teams fielded full squads this year.
The B.A.A. also won the women’s team title, successfully defending its 2002 title and posting a winning score for the fourth time in the last six years. (In addition to their wins this year and last year, the B.A.A. women also won in 2000 and 1998). Seven teams scored (72 finishers in the women’s championship 5k), and the B.A.A. (30 points) placed four finishers among the top 15 and all five among the top 24 overall finishers. Reebok Boston finished second with 55 points.
Kate O’Neill, 23, currently residing New Haven, Conn. and competing for Nike, pushed the women’s pack through the initial mile. Amy Rudolph, 30, of Providence (adidas); Atalalegh Ketema, 20, of Ethiopia (Westchester Track Club); and Kathy Newberry, 25, of Williamsburg, Virginia (adidas) ran as a group with O’Neill. Kate’s twin sister, Laura (New Haven and Nike), and Ann McGranahan, 24, of North Carolina (Zap Fitness) ran just steps behind. By the two-mile mark in the women’s championship 5k, the group had whittled itself down to Rudolph, Ketema and Newberry but Kate O’Neill still appeared to hold the advantage. With a finish which includes 600-meter perimeter run around The Playstead (large, open field), the race came down to a two-person battle between Rudolph and O’Neill. O’Neill tested Rudolph with a burst with 400 meters remaining and the result was clear: O’Neill took first (16:33) by two seconds over runner-up and U.S. Olympian Rudolph (16:35). Newberry placed third in 16:37, McGranahan fourth in 16:43, and Laura O’Neill fifth in 16:54.
Kelly intends to run a full, fall cross country schedule, with the New England Championship at Franklin Park on November 9 up next for him. Subsequently, he will return to his native country to run the Irish National Championship on November 30 with the intention of earning a position on the Irish team to compete at the European Championship in Scotland on December 14.
Both Kate and Laura O’Neill said the Manchester (Conn.) 4.75-mile Road Race on Thanksgiving Day may be their next effort. After that, they will look to represent the U.S. team for the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships by running the U.S. trials race in Indianapolis this winter. The O’Neills, who attended Milton High School just 10 minutes from Franklin Park, last raced on the Franklin Park course (6k version) as Yale University juniors two years ago (Fall 2001) at the NCAA Region I Championship. On Columbus Day earlier this month (October 13), the pair placed second (Kate) and fourth (Laura) at the U.S. National 10k Championships in Boston (Tufts Health Plan Run for Women).
The Franklin Park 5K drew 175 finishers and two youth races (boys: 147; girls: 143) brought the day’s total to 717, making the 14th edition of the Mayor’s Cup among the largest in event history. The Mayor’s Cup is regarded as the most competitive open cross country race on the East Coast and has been presented by the B.A.A. and adidas since 1997. USA Track & Field - New England and the Boston Center for Youth and Families directed the races, which featured $4,200 in prize money awards.
- 180 finishers in the Men’s Championship 8K.
- 72 finishers in the Women’s Championship 5K.
- 175 finishers in the Franklin Park 5K (men and women).
- 290 (147 boys, 143 girls) youth finishers