Familiar faces highlight today's B.A.A. 10K event
The eighth annual B.A.A. 10K, presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, helped kick-off the summer season on Boston Common, as 8,337 participants took to the 6.2-mile course through Boston’s Back Bay. Gabriel Geay of Tanzania won a fierce sprint to capture the men’s crown in 28:24, while Kenya’s Mary Wacera held off 2015 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Rotich down the stretch for top women’s honors in 31:55.
Today’s B.A.A. 10K was the second race of the 2018 B.A.A. Distance Medley, which also includes April’s B.A.A. 5K and October’s B.A.A. Half Marathon. Presenting sponsor Brigham and Women’s Hospital was represented by 560 runners, who have raised a combined $220,000 through today’s event.
At the front of the field, Geay masterfully covered the B.A.A. 10K course to become the event’s first winner from Tanzania. Splitting halfway in 14:38, Geay was joined up front by familiar faces to the Boston running scene: two-time B.A.A. 10K winners Daniel Chebii and Stephen Sambu, as well as 2015 champion Daniel Salel. Completing the hairpin turn at Boston University and beginning their journey back towards downtown, the lead pack was destined for a dramatic finish.
In the fourth mile – covered in 4:34 – Geay, Chebii, Salel, and Teshome Mekonen began to separate themselves from the rest of the challengers. It would be down to Geay and Mekonen at five miles (23:03).
Digging deep with a kilometer remaining, Geay turned to another gear. Mekonen did his best to keep it close around Boston Common, but the gap stayed roughly five seconds as the pair turned onto Charles Street with the finish up ahead.
Breaking the tape in 28:24, Geay earned a five second victory over Mekonen, with Kenya’s Stephen Sambu moving up for third in 28:36. Salel and Chebii rounded out the top five with times of 28:39 and 28:47.
“I am very happy to win. I was tenth in 2016 and now I feel good to win for the first time,” said Geay, who adds a Boston title to his already deep resume that includes wins at prominent road races in Atlanta, Boulder, and San Francisco. “It felt very good.”
Geay doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon: he hopes to join the ranks of Boston Marathon champions. “Maybe one day I will plan to come back to Boston and run the marathon,” he said with a smile.
Chris Derrick of the Bowerman Track Club (Portland, Ore.) was the top American in sixth place, timing 29:00.
Returning to the top of the women’s podium was Kenya’s Mary Wacera. Splitting the opening mile in 5:17, Wacera was joined by a stellar group that included Boston Marathon veteran Rotich, reigning B.A.A. 5K champion Buze Diriba, and two-time B.A.A. 10K winner Mamitu Daska.
Hitting halfway in a conservative 16:22, Wacera and Rotich looked poised for strong runs in the race’s latter stretch. Back-to-back miles splits of 5:05 and 5:04 cut the group down to three as they reached the one-mile-to-go point with momentum.
Having tasted victory in 2015 then finished fourth in 2016 and second last year, Wacera was not going to be denied another champion’s trophy. She cruised through the tape in 31:55, two seconds up on Rotich and an additional two seconds ahead of third placer Daska (31:59).
“To come back to Boston first of all is great for me. I love Boston, the city, it’s beautiful. To come back and win, I can’t even say how I feel because I am so happy,” said Wacera. “My goal today was really looking forward to winning the race, hoping I could win again.”
Diriba was fourth in 32:10, while Monicah Ngige claimed fifth in 32:31. Nicole DiMercurio of Blowing Rock, N.C. was eleventh in 34:38, finishing as the top U.S. runner.
Completing their “Victory Lap” were Boston Marathon champions Des Linden and Meb Keflezighi. The pair of American distance running icons covered the course’s first five miles in tandem to the cheers of many participants and spectators.
“We called this the victory lap and it really felt like that. It was great to be embraced by the crowd and come back to the streets of Boston and get a nice warm welcome,” said Linden, who crossed the line hand-in-hand with B.A.A. running club member Katsuhiro Togami with 38:25 on the clock.
“It was a great day to be in Boston,” added Keflezighi, who finished in 38:52. “It was great to celebrate with the rest of the runners, Des, and everyone.”
The B.A.A. swept the masters division, as Chris Magill finished in 34:43 and Karolyn Bowley crossed in 37:42. In the push rim wheelchair division, Ashburnham, Mass.-native Katrina Gerhard won in 25:36, while New Jersey’s Tony Nogueira earned his sixth B.A.A. 10K win in 23:08.