BOSTON (13-October) -- On a picture-perfect day for road racing, 6,341 participants took part in today’s 19th annual B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. Kenyans swept the top spots of the podium, as Brillian Kipkoech set a new women’s course record of 1:07:40 and Philemon Kiplimo broke the tape in 1:01:58 to win the men’s title. In the wheelchair division, Massachusetts native Katrina Gerhard set a course record, and University of Arizona student-athlete Miguel Vergara topped Tony Nogueira in a photo-finish.
The B.A.A. Half Marathon was the third and final event of the 2019 B.A.A. Distance Medley, a three-race series that includes the B.A.A. 5K and B.A.A. 10K. Among the field were 335 runners raising nearly $500,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.
Kipkoech separated from challengers Gotytom Gebreslase and Monicah Ngige in the ninth mile, gaining confidence with every stride. Kipkoech’s lead and the possibility of a course record grew as she ran along the Emerald Necklace park system and through Franklin Park Zoo.
Upon entering White Stadium with the finish in sight, Kipkoech kicked her way to an emphatic victory. Celebrating with enthusiasm, Kipkoech jumped up and down after learning she’d finished in 1:07:40 – a course record by 40 seconds and her second sub-1:08:00 half marathon time in as many months.
“A course record, I was very excited,” said Kipkoech, who used both the race’s hills and fellow competitors to her advantage. “I’d like to thank the guy who ran with me from start to finish, he really was a help to me… I was very, very happy to win this race and break the course record. I’m the happiest person [here].”
Between a win here and runner-up placing at the B.A.A. 10K in June, Kipkoech said she’s enjoyed racing in Boston. “Boston has been good to me,” she said, adding that she’d like to return someday for the Boston Marathon. In a close battle for second, early leader Gebreslase edged Ngige, 1:08:58 to 1:09:11. Kenya’s Vicoty Chepngeno and Gladys Yator placed fourth (1:10:21) and fifth (1:16:05).
While Kipkoech’s victory was decisive, Kiplimo’s was a close battle until a mile to go. With 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir, reigning B.A.A. 10K winner David Bett, and last year’s third-place finisher Gabriel Geay among the contenders, Kipkoech knew it would take a hard final surge to prevail on top.
In the tenth mile, the pack was down to three: Bett, Geay, and Kiplimo. That’s when Kiplimo dug down and focused, leaving Geay and Bett behind.
“In the second half I tried to push and push, and get faster on the hills. That was a challenge of this event,” said Kiplimo, who broke the tape first in 1:01:58. “I tried to push and am thankful for winning.”
Ten seconds behind came Geay, holding on for second over Bett (1:02:31) and Dominic Korir (1:02:44). Reflecting on the battle up front, Kiplimo noted that it was a tough competition. “I am just so happy to win this race. It was not easy. I just tried to push the others.”
The wheelchair division featured a pair of exciting wins, with Katrina Gerhard setting a course record and Miguel Vergara overcoming a loose wheel to earn his first major victory. Gerhard, a graduate of Acton-Boxborough High School and the University of Illinois, shaved more than nine minutes off the course record to win in 1:00:43.
Gerhard, now attending medical school in Boston, was proud to note that her time this year was nearly a half hour quicker than her 1:28:09 winning time from 2014. “It is really special,” said Gerhard. “Boston is my city. Having the people cheering, seeing the unicorn and everything, it really gets me going.”
Despite having to stop and fix a loose wheel in the second mile, Vergara was determined to battle and catch-up to 12-time winner Tony Nogueira. He would do just that, coming up on Nogueira’s shoulder with 50 meters to go and making the winning pass mere feet from the line.
“I have been racing with Tony forever, he’s one of the legends in the sport,” said Vergara, who won in 53:38 to Nogueira’s 53:40. “I’ve never, ever broken the tape at a race. This is the first one, and I’m just so happy. This is a great accomplishment for me.”
The B.A.A. Half Marathon serves as the third and final event of the 2019 B.A.A. Distance Medley, which also includes April’s B.A.A. 5K and June’s B.A.A. 10K. David Bett and Monicah Ngige were declared series champions with the lowest cumulative time from all three events – 1:44:42 and 1:56:36, respectively.
A total of 335 runners were part of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Half Marathon team, raising nearly $500,000. Since 2003, Dana-Farber has raised more than $8 million through participating in the B.A.A. Half Marathon.
Registration for next year’s B.A.A. Distance Medley will open in January, and dates for the 2019 B.A.A. Distance Medley events will be announced in the coming months.
Men’s Open Division:
- Philemon Kiplimo, 21, Kenya, 1:01:58
- Gabriel Geay, 22, Tanzania, 1:02:08
- David Bett, 26, Kenya, 1:02:31
- Dominic Korir, 26, Kenya, 1:02:44
- Panuel Mkungo, 25, Kenya, 1:02:51
Women’s Open Division:
- Brillian Kipkoech, 24, Kenya, 1:07:40 (Course Record)
- Gotytom Gebreslase, 24, Ethiopia, 1:08:58
- Monicah Ngige, 25, Kenya, 1:09:11
- Vicoty Chepngeno, 25, Kenya, 1:10:21
- Gladys Yator, 27, Kenya, 1:16:05
Men’s Wheelchair Division:
- Miguel Vergara, 19, Ewing, NJ, 53:38
- Tony Nogueira, 51, Glen Ridge, NJ, 53:40
- Alinco Omojola, 30, Nigeria, 58:57
Women’s Wheelchair Division:
- Katrina Gerhard, 22, Natick, MA, 1:00:43 (Course Record)