by: Tim Loh and LetsRun.com
March 16, 2014
Sally Kipyego set the New York City Half Marathon event record Sunday in her debut at the distance, pulling ahead of Molly Huddle near the 9-mile mark and never looking back.
Huddle, who was debuting at the distance herself, had pressed the pace for much of the race alongside Kipyego. But after falling off the lead, she was ultimately caught in the last couple of miles by Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba.
Kipyego finished in 1:08:31, Deba in 1:08:59 and Huddle held on for third in 1:09:04.
The Race: Kipyego Wins in Debut
Much like in the men’s race, the women’s leaders didn’t go out terribly fast. A group of six runners passed the 5K mark in 16:34, led by Croatia’s Lisa Stublic, who competed in college just a handful of blocks north of Central Park at Columbia University.
By 10K, a pack of five came through in 33:00, as Kenya’s Caroline Kilel had fallen off pace. Still in the hunt were Kipyego, Huddle, Stublic, Deba and Britain’s Gemma Steel.
Shortly after that, Kipyego and Huddle forged ahead, dropping Deba by 13 seconds by 15K — and everyone else by even more.
The two cruised through the next few miles, sometimes side-by-side, often with Kipyego a half-step ahead. They passed the 15K in 48:51 (Kipyego) and 48:52 (Huddle).
“I’d wanted to be careful in the beginning,” Kipyego said later, admitting that she rarely trains longer than 14 miles. “I didn’t want the wheels to fall off in the last three miles. So I went out cautiously, but I felt fantastic 10 miles in.”
That much was clear. Right after the 15K mark, Kipyego broke open the race, quickly gapping Huddle with a move that would only grow as she approached the finish line.
By 20K, Kipyego, looking smooth out front, had a 27-second lead. She passed that point in 1:04:54.
By then, Huddle was contending with Deba, who crossed the 20K mark a step ahead of Huddle. They hit that point in 1:05:21 and 1:05:22 respectively.
For Kipyego, it became a race against the clock — and Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado’s event record of 1:08:35 from 2012 (the course changed this year to make it record eligible). She did so quite handily, finishing in 1:08:30.
“The race turned out to be better than I expected,” Kipyego later said. “I thought I would be in so much pain last the last two miles. Yes, I was still in pain, but not as much as I thought I would be.”Similar to the men’s race, the battle for second was coming down to the final steps.
In this case, Deba managed to stretch her lead on Huddle a bit more, pushing through to finish in 1:08:59 versus Huddle’s 1:09:04.
“The finish was a little rough for me,” Huddle said afterward. “The last mile or two, I was slowing down a lot.”
Huddle said the race for her had gone pretty much as expected. Her goal coming in was 69 minutes, she said.
What she hadn’t expected was how the competition stacked up.
“I was surprised that (Kipyego and I) were up front, because we’d never done this before, but Sally looked great,” Huddle said. “I knew she’d be a good person to key off of.”
Just two weeks ago at a Boston University Last Chance Meet, Huddle ran 15:13.86 for 5,000 meters. She said she’s hoping to run a good 10,000 meters at Stanford University’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on May 4 where she will face Kipyego.
She’ll then focus on the 5,000 for the rest of track season, she said. From there, she plans to reassess things and potentially focus on some 10K’s in the fall.
****Sally Kipyego Bounces Back From Poor Run in Puerto Rico
Kipyego, the Olympic silver medallist at 10,000m, missed the outdoor track season last year with injury. This year she had won the 2 mile at the New Balance Indoor Games in Boston, but then only been 9th place in 33:14 at the World’s Best 10k in Puerto Rico. Kipyego thought that performance was an anomaly due to the heat, but was pleased to do so well her in her debut. The plan this year is to focus on the track with a 10,000m at Stanford the next big priority.
Kipyego revealed her longest long run is only 14 miles. She had no problem running 13 today.
****Desi Davila is Back in Action, No Taper for This One
Desi Davila Linden ran her first race of 2014 as she prepares for Boston. Davila, the 2011 Boston runner-up, has been on the comeback trail since injuries sidelined her at the Olympics in 2012. Today she ran 1:11:37. LRC did not speak to Davila but did speak to her coach Kevin Hanson who indicated Desi’s preparations for Boston are going very well. He said there was no taper at all for this race and that Desi did 16 or 18 miles YESTERDAY. Desi’s PR for the half is a modest 1:10:34 as she is a much better marathoner.
Molly Huddle and Kipyego Press Conference
Nelson was hoping to run just a little bit faster, but considering the cold conditions was not too disappointed. Boston is next.
Women’s Race Video Highlights (More here)
Tim Loh went to high school with Molly Huddle and ran at Notre Dame with Huddle’s husband Kurt Benninger.