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NEW YORK (28-Apr) -- Mathew Kimeli and Senbere Teferi were dominant victors at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K here this morning, winning by 22 and 53 seconds in 27:45 and 30:59, respectively. Kimeli, a 21-year-old Kenyan who represents adidas, improved on last year's runner-up finish, cruised the second half of the race solo. Teferi, a 23-yer-old Ethiopian who also runs for adidas, set a new event record, the first sub-31:00 in the 15-year history of the event which raises money for kidney disease research and treatment.
A year ago, Kimeli and training partner Rhonex Kipruto worked together in pursuit of the Central Park record and the $30,000 bonus that came with it. Kipruto took home the paycheck for his 27:08 victory, while Kimeli finished second in 27:19. He returned to New York as the pre-race favorite and acted like it, immediately moving to the front of the lead pack from the start.
Through the first mile (4:31), Kimeli was joined by fellow Kenyan James Ngandu, Gabriel Geay of Tanzania and Girma Bekele Gebre, a New York-based Ethiopian. Kimeli ratcheted up the pace with a 4:20 second mile, first dropping Ngandu before Geay also started to struggle to maintain contact. Running the tangents of the curved roadway with precision, Kimeli dropped Gebre as the course climbed the steep Harlem Hill at the north end of the park. Between 3 miles (13:14) and 5 kilometers (13:45) Kimeli accelerated sharply and broke away.
"I could see that he was going to challenge me on the hill, so I decided that was the time to push it," Kimeli told Race Results Weekly.
At the certified 8-kilometer split (22:08) Kimeli's lead had grown to 17 seconds and his only competition was coming from the clock. The demanding course took its toll, however, as he split 14:00 for the second 5-K to reach the finish in 27:45, still the sixth fastest time in race history.
"The course is good, but today I didn't have a challenger so that maybe we could push together," Kimeli said. "I was comfortable, although I didn't have anybody to support me, other than the [cameraman's] motorbike. The spectators cheered for me and that helped. Maybe next year I'll try to set a new course record."
Gebre crossed the line second in 28:07, while Edwin Kibichiy of Kenya, the 2017 NCAA champion in the steeplechase for the University of Louisville, moved up for third in 28:21. Another Kenyan, Dominic Korir (28:24), and Geay (28:43) rounded out the top five.
Teferi, a week away from her 24th birthday and in her United States racing debut, made an aggressive bid for the Central Park record, Lornah Kiplagat's 30:44 set at the 2002 NYRR New York Mini 10-K. She broke away from Kenya's Monicah Ngige early in the race, attacking the early miles. By halfway (15:31), the record seemed out of her reach, but Teferi continued to press. Indeed, she covered the second half even faster (15:28) to break the tape in 30:59. Although she missed Kiplagat's mark, she was well under the previous event record of 31:17, set by Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya in 2014.
"I was trying to break the record, but there were a lot of hills at the beginning and by 2 kilometers I knew I was off the pace," said Teferi through a translator, who owns a pair of IAAF World Championships silver medals from 2015 in cross country and the 5000 meters. "I kept on trying after that, I didn't give up hope. I didn't succeed, but I was trying."
Ngige, who finished third in this race the past two years, held on for second in 31:52. Defending champion Buze Diriba of Ethiopia was third in 32:20, followed by Risper Gesabwa (33:26) of Mexico and New Yorker Harriott Kelly (34:19).
Kimeli and Teferi both earned $10,000 first-place prizes (part of a $60,000 purse) in the New York Road Runners-organized event, which featured 7696 official finishers.