October 24, 2004 - Irishman Mark Carroll, 32, who resides in Providence, Rhode Island, and Ethiopian Atalelech Ketema, 21, who resides in the Bronx, New York City, were the respective winners of the men’s and women’s races at the 15th Annual Mayor’s Cup Cross Country Races at Boston’s Franklin Park on Sunday.
Carroll’s ran 23:53 for the 8-kilometer, multiple loop course in cool, damp conditions with adequate footing. He won by 10 seconds over runner-up John Mortimer, 28, of Boston. Ketema, who placed sixth at this same race last year, ran in similarly impressive fashion as Carroll, notching a wire-to-wire victory in 16:47 in her 5-kilometer race. Rebecca Stallwood, 26, of Canada, finished second in 17:04.
In the team competition, the Boston Athletic Association men’s and women’s teams both defended their titles. The B.A.A. teams have not finished worse than the runner-up spot in each of the last five years. The men’s team has won in three of the last five years and the women have won in four of the last five years. The Boston Mayor’s Cup is considered the top cross country meet on the East Coast and generally is a gauge as to how teams will do at the USA Fall National Cross Country Championships, this year to be held in Portland, Oregon on December 4. (The USA Fall National Cross Country Championships crowns the country’s best running club.)
The B.A.A. men’s team placed all five of its scorers, led by Mortimer, among the top 20 finishers. The club’s women's team placed its five scorers among the top 13 finishers and were paced by fifth placer Orla O’Mahoney (17:14).
This year’s Mayor’s Cup races drew the largest total number of finishers (825) in event history, with 338 youth finishers in separate boys and girls races and 202 finishers in the Franklin Park 5-kilometer “open” race.
Carroll, who had been contemplating a fall marathon but who has now turned his attention to running one in the spring of 2005, said his return to cross country was refreshing. “I entered this race, just hoping to have fun,” said Carroll. “After all these years and all these workouts, why not just find good places to post solid efforts?” Despite representing Ireland at the Athens Olympics this summer, Carroll had to work through persistent injury all year. He is also his country’s national record-holder at three distances--3,000 meters (7:30.36, 1999); 5,000 meters (13:03.93, 1998); 10,000 meters (27:46.82, 2000)--and ran a 2:10:54 debut (sixth place) at 2002 New York City Marathon. Most recently, he was ninth at the B.A.A. Half Marathon on October 10 in 1:06:17.
With two-time defending champion, countryman and fellow Providence College alumnus Keith Kelly cheering him from the sidelines, Carroll set the early pace over the B.A.A.’s own John Mortimer, an assistant coach at Boston College and a finalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at this past summer’s USA Track & Field Olympic Trials. Carroll’s leading splits were 4:30 at the mile mark, 9:37 at two miles, 15:03 at 5-kilometers (3.1 miles), and 19:20 at four miles. Carroll competes for adidas, and said that he wanted to keep his options open for a place on his country’s national cross country team. The Mayor’s Cup victory did just that.
Ketema led for two thirds of last year’s race before fading in the final mile, a result of her unfamiliarity with racing in spikes, she said. This year’s solution? “I wore my flats,” she said. “I didn't want to take my chances of the same feeling happening again. Last year, my legs went dead as the race wore on. This year, there was no problem.” In this year’s early stages, Ketema challenged the meet record of 16:22 by posting a first mile split of 5:06 and a second mile split time of 10:41 before succumbing to the gusty winds. Ketema was a prospect for the Ethiopian athletics federation before seeking asylum in the United States two years ago, and currently she competes for Westchester (New York) Track Club.
For most in the Franklin Park 5k, which was run for only the third time in 2004, the race gave local runners, especially road racers, perhaps their single cross country racing opportunity of the year. John Bitok, 23, a Kenyan citizen who competes for the B.A.A. and who lives in Brighton, Mass., won the men's race in 15:57. He recently graduated from Syracuse University. Governor Dummer Academy’s Keara Thomas, 15, of Haverhill, Mass. was the first female finisher in 19:29.
Nick Poles, 13, of Quincy Track Club (5:53) and Ashley Farnsworth, 14, of Lynx Elite Athletics (6:25) captured the 1.1-mile youth races. Farnsworth also won the girls' race last year.
The partnership between the Boston Athletic Association and adidas has helped develop the event into a premier competition for the City of Boston. Since 1997 when the B.A.A. and adidas became involved in the presentation of the meet, the Mayor’s Cup has stood out on the national calendar among open cross country events.
The Boston Mayor’s Cup Cross Country Races are presented by adidas and the Boston Athletic Association; the races are directed by USA Track & Field - New England and Boston Centers for Youth & Families; with significant cooperation from Boston Parks & Recreation Department and the City of Boston’s Park Rangers. Proceeds from the event are directed towards the improvement, preservation and maintenance of the Franklin Park cross country courses.
- 187 finishers in the Men’s Championship 8K.
- 97 finishers in the Women’s Championship 5K.
- 202 finishers in the Franklin Park 5K (men and women).
- 338 (153 boys, 185 girls) youth finishers