GEBREMESKEL SETS EVENT RECORD, HUDDLE CLAIMS POIGNANT VICTORY AT B.A.A. 5-K
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
BOSTON (19-Apr) -- On a glorious spring morning here Olympic silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel earned his second consecutive B.A.A. 5-K title in an event record time of 13:26, while Providence, Rhode Island's Molly Huddle claimed the women's contest coming from behind in 15:12. With more than 8,000 participants, the sixth annual B.A.A. 5-K was the largest in event history.
GEBREMESKEL NIPS TRUE AT THE LINE IN EVENT RECORD (Results)
From the starting gun, Gebremeskel bolted out to the lead. Coming off a 13:13 win at the Carlsbad 5000 on March 30, the 24-year-old's plan was to go hard early and see what happens.
Reaching the mile in 4:23, Gebremeskel was joined by a group of 12, including 2013 B.A.A. Distance Medley champion Stephen Sambu, two-time B.A.A. 5-K winner Ben True, and Kenyan stalwart Lani Rutto.
Relinquishing the lead to Rutto as the group turned onto the Boston Marathon course just past halfway, Gebremeskel looked poised and relaxed, just like when he's running on the international track circuit. Two miles was hit in 8:49.
Coming down Boylston Street, Gebremeskel and the lead pack --now down to five-- crossed the Boston Marathon finish line as one. Three abreast, the leaders continued the next 800 meters in unison.
Making the final turn onto Charles Street with roughly a quarter mile remaining, Gebremeskel began his famed kick. Everyone was still in contention, though only True and Sambu could match the Ethiopian stride for stride.
"The race was not too much fast. It's OK; it's medium. That's why all of us was waiting for the last 400, 200, even 100, the last 100. I like this sprint," Gebremeskel told Race Results Weekly. "I don't know the second one [True] but I know the third one [Sambu]. They have good speed."
At the line, it was Gebremeskel by a hair over the Yarmouth, Maine-native in True. Both Gebremeskel and True crossed the finish in 13:26, a new event record (this year's course was different than the previous five editions, accommodating a larger field size). According to a Boston Athletic Association official, Gebremeskel's margin of victory turned out to be four one-hundredths of a second.
"I'm really glad, this Boston Marathon. The town is talking about the Boston Marathon. It is like the whole town: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday, Monday even today. I like this. It is a really big race," said Gebremeskel, who earned $7,500 for finishing first.
True, who is just coming back from a biceps femoris injury, was pleased with his runner-up showing.
"That's a world-class field, a nice field to be with at the end of the race. I tried to be the last one to make a move at the end of the race down the finishing stretch. I don't think I had, I think I was one step short," he said. "It gives me good confidence I haven't lost anything."
Sambu, 25, took third in 13:27. Rutto and Daniel Salel rounded out the top five in 13:30 and 13:31, respectively.
NEW ENGLANDER HUDDLE CLAIMS WOMEN'S TITLE (Results)
Molly Huddle waited, and waited, and waited some more. But when she made her move with less than a kilometer remaining, it was unrelenting
Huddle, 29, a 2012 Olympian and the fastest American woman ever over 5000m on the track, placed third at the 2013 B.A.A. 5-K. Knowing this year's field was especially tough, Huddle had hopes of finishing between third and fifth, she said.
After 2013 B.A.A. 10-K champion Mamitu Daska and Kenyan Olympic medalist Linet Masai took the pace out in 4:50 for the first mile, Huddle found herself well behind. Not losing focus, she'd conserve her energy for the next mile, coming down Boylston Street in sixth place.
Shortly after crossing the Boston Marathon finish line with three-quarters of a mile remaining, Huddle gained added motivation by thinking of last year's Boston Marathon terrorist attacks.
"I felt like everyone was cheering for us," she told Race Results Weekly. "With a half mile to go I thought it would be great for an American to win this race and so I think it gave me a little extra boost."
Soon, Huddle found herself in third, then second, and finally first with 200 meters remaining, coinciding with her finishing kick.
"I didn't want to go too early. I know this finish from Tufts (10-K for Women). It can be a long straightaway," she said. Huddle held on to the lead, breaking the tape in 15:12. Her time ties Werknesh Kidane's event record from 2012.
"When I started to pass the girls up front, I felt better and better as I was building momentum. I was very happy with it," she said, noting that she was pleasantly surprised with the snap in her legs just one month after making her half-marathon debut in New York.
Winning this year's contest was extra special, considering Huddle lives about 40 miles southwest of Boston in Providence. Having felt the heartache of last year's tragedy, Huddle knew the importance of an American --especially a New Englander-- winning on home soil.
"I felt like people were cheering for the Americans, really loud. A lot of people were saying my name. When I realized I had a shot to win, I really felt a little more pride was on the line this year. It was great. And, hopefully, we can do the same thing on Monday [at the Boston Marathon]," she said.
Finishing second in 15:14 was Daska, followed by late entrant Sentayehu Ejigu in 15:16. Betsy Saina and Gotytom Gebreslase were fourth and fifth in 15:16 and 15:17, respectively
Americans Amy Van Alstine and Amy Hastings finished eighth and ninth; 15:38 and 15:45 were their times.
Close to 10,000 athletes entered this year's B.A.A. 5-K, with 8,652 starting the race. The final number of finishers will likely be much larger than last year's race record of 5,649. Event organizers were thoroughly pleased.
"As we in Boston get back to what we do," proclaimed Boston Athletic Association Executive Director Tom Grilk, just before the start. "We run."