Sunday, October 22, 2006 - For more than a decade, the Mayor’s Cup Cross Country Races have given elite athletes a chance to launch into the cross country season and offered local athletes a break from the road racing circuit. With nearly 800 runners completing one of the day’s five races, 2006 was one of the most successful years in Mayor’s Cup history.
Headlining the men’s field was America’s top miler, Alan Webb, making his second appearance at the Mayor’s Cup (he placed second in 2003). A host of challengers included defending champion Jarrod Shoemaker, Boston College coach John Mortimer, Patrick Tarpy of Providence, RI, and Stephen Chemlany (KEN) of the Westchester (NY) Track Club.
Tarpy, a 2005 graduate of Brown University, quickly took control of the race, leading the field through the mile in 4:36, the two mile in 9:26, and four miles in 19:06. Shadowing Tarpy the entire way were Webb and Chemlany, the latter assuming the lead on the final trip up Bear Cage Hill. Even the speedy Webb–owner of a 3:48.92 PR for the mile–couldn’t catch him, as Chemlany built up a five-second advantage before the finish, breaking the tape in 23:32. Tarpy crossed in third, followed quickly by ZAP Fitness teammates Ryan Warrenburg and Thomas Morgan in fourth and fifth.
Rebecca Donaghue, formerly of the University of Massachusetts, took the women through the mile in 5:10, trailed closely by Aziza Aliyli (ETH), Amy Mortimer, Samia Akbar, and Teraza Yohannes. Ultimately Aliyli–a Westchester T.C. teammate of the men’s champion Chemlany–emerged at the front, capturing the victory in 16:40. Mortimer finished a close second in 16:42, followed by Donaghue (16:44), Akbar (16:49), and Yohannes (16:53).
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, the Mayor’s Cup has been a mainstay on the national calendar among open cross country events. Regarded as one of the most competitive cross country races in the eastern United States, several clubs once again will use the Mayor’s Cup to prepare for the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships [held San Francisco on December 9, 2006].
The Mayor’s Cup Cross Country races are sponsored by adidas and the Boston Athletic Association, and directed by USA Track & Field – New England with cooperation from the Boston Centers for Youth & Families, the Boston Parks & Recreation Department and the City of Boston Park Rangers. Proceeds from the event are directed towards the improvement, preservation and maintenance of the Franklin Park cross country courses.
Despite running just four seconds slower than last year, 2005 Mayor’s Cup champion Jarrod Shoemaker placed 15th this year in 24:27.
Though the Franklin Park course record of 22:53 (Silah Misoi, 1997) survived the day, 2006 was nonetheless one of the fastest in event history. Thirteen men ran faster than last year’s winner; eight of them breaking 24:00–the highest such number since eight did so in 2001. Stephen Chemlany’s winning time of 23:32 was the fastest since 2003, when Keith Kelly ran 23:19.
Alan Webb’s second-place time of 23:37 was 18 seconds faster than he ran to place second in 2003. In the months following that 2003 performance, Webb placed fourth at the U.S. Cross Country Nationals 12K, won the U.S. 1500m title to qualify for the Olympic Games, and set a mile PR of 3:50.84.
The women’s course record (16:22, Kathy Franey, 1997) also survived, even though seven women broke 17:00. That number is unmatched in the last decade of Mayor’s Cup races. 2006 proved deeper and faster than 2005, as demonstrated by Samia Akbar, who chopped 45 seconds off her time yet placed an identical fourth both years.
Women’s runner-up Amy Mortimer competed on the United States’ bronze medal winning team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2005.
Westchester Track Club swept the team titles, edging the B.A.A. men’s team 51-57, while the women placed 1-2-4-5-13 to easily defeat the B.A.A. 25-54.
In the Boys 1.1-mile, John Ellersick of Sudbury, MA, won with a time of 5:49. Tops in the Girls 1.1-mile was Carolyn Ranti of Waltham, MA, in 6:30.
Michael Baugh, champion of the inaugural Mayor’s Cup in 1990, participated in the Franklin Park 5K.