2014 Bay To Breakers 12K: Kenya’s Geoffrey Kenisi And Iowa’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) Get The Wins As Sara Hall (2nd) And Ben Bruce (7th) Are Top Americans

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by Steve Soprano
May 20, 2014

This weekend was the 103rd Bay to Breakers 12K in San Francisco. It’s one of the oldest road races in America and features a competitive elite field, although it is also best known for its mass race which often features inebriated participants running in crazy costumes or stark naked. It’s definitely an event and I was thrilled to race in it myself this year.

For more on the debauchery/revelry, see this article from the SF Gate where one intellectual explained why he wore nothing, yes nothing but a teenage mutant ninja turtle mask:

“When you take off the shell, this is what you see. Pure manhood, nothing else.”

The SF Gate has a great near 100 shot photo gallery of this year’s amazing costumes.

In terms of the actual racing, this year featured pretty good fields. In the women’s race, Iowa’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson of Burundi (40:19 – 5:24 pace) defended her title from last year on the women’s side, holding off Sara Hall who was gaining on her at the end and ended up 8 seconds behind. Kenya’s Geoffrey Kenisi (35:04 – 4:42 pace) won the men’s race and then did a little victory dance that thrilled the photographers after a quick prayer. Ben Bruce was the top American in 7th (37:01)

The Bay to Breakers also features an interesting race-within-a-race in the “Hayes Hill Challenge” where a $2,500 bonus was given to the fastest man and woman up Hayes Hill. Hayes Hill comes about 2.5-miles into the race and is a .69 mile stretch with an average grade of 5.5% (11.1% at its steepest). It’s tough.

The fastest man was Aissa Dghoughi who got up the hill in 2:41.0 and finished 5th overall. For comparison’s sake, winner Kenisi was up in 2:42.6, Bruce ran 3:06.9, US Marathon champ and 2nd American at Boston Nick Arciniagawas up in 3:17.3 and I myself ran it very conservatively and was up in 3:25.1. The fastest woman was Nazret Weldu Gebrehiwet who got up the hill in 3:16.1 and finished 4th woman overall. Nukuri-Johnson was up in 3:21.5 and Hall 3:32.5.

It’d be nice to calculate a pace on that, but either the .69 measurement or the timing was off since the times are way too fast for .69-miles uphill. That’s 3:53 mile pace for Dghoughi and even I supposedly ran 4:57 mile pace and I can tell you that just didn’t happen. If you’ve ever seen the hill you know no one is getting up that at sub-4 minute mile pace.

There wasn’t really a lot of time for interviews after the awards ceremony as the elites were catching a ride back to the starting line almost immediately afterwards, but I got a chance to get a quick interview with Hall and Arciniaga.

Sara Hall Talks About The Course And Her Busy/Varied Racing Schedule

Talking about her race, Hall said that the course is tough and she “underestimated the hill”. It was her first time racing here and feels there is a “learning curve” with this course and is looking forward to coming back in the future. Hall said Nukuri-Johnson always had a bit of a lead on her and while she was able to make up some ground, she wasn’t able to catch her in the end.

Hall has been a prolific racer this year, running the US Half Champs in January, a 15K in March, the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in April as well as a couple of road miles and a steeple at Payton Jordan. I asked her what the thought process has been racing so often at such varied distances and she said, “It’s definitely not ideal to be all over the map, but I’m definitely having fun this spring with it being an off-year from track I’m trying some new stuff and wanting to challenge myself in the longer distances too.”

Looking forward she may run some more track this spring, but really wants to get in a fast half-marathon as she felt there was “more there” after her 4th place finish at Cherry Blossom. Ultimately she’s looking toward her marathon debut probably this fall, although plans haven’t been finalized yet and her next race will be the Bolder Boulder 10K this weekend where Ryan Hall will also run.

There were reports that he was going to race Bay to Breakers, but Sara said that he was “thinking of doing it”, but it was never definite and he decided against it because it’d be a bit too much with his current schedule. He won the Flying Pig 10K on May 3rd and now he’ll do Bolder Boulder and then the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon the weekend after.

Nick Arciniaga Enjoying New Sponsor Under Armour; Says Yuki Kawauchi Is One Of His Heroes

Nick Arciniaga’s Bay To Breakers Race Kit

Arciniaga finished in 16th place in around 38:02 (the online results incorrectly have him 17th place and with a slightly slower time than he should) and wasn’t thrilled with the performance. He was hoping for better with both place and time, but recognized that there was a strong headwind that made times slower. He said his legs just weren’t ready for the faster turnover 12K distance as it’s only been 4-weeks since the Boston Marathon and he’s not been training for shorter races.

Like Sara Hall, Arciniaga has been racing a good amount and plans on doing more. He won the US Marathon Champs in October, was 2nd American in Boston (7th overall, 2:11:47) and plans on doing Grandmas Marathon in June where he hopes to “go for a win”. He’s done a lot of other races in between as well including the US 12K Champs, 15K Champs, Club XC and US XC Champs. Talking about competing often despite being a marathon guy he said:

“I just want to get myself out there competing more. I want to see how my body holds up with the consistent marathons back to back. There’s not too much a gap between [Grandmas] and Boston and I’m just hoping to be able to recover enough and run well. One of my heroes right now is Yuki Kawauchi who runs 12 marathons a year … I want to see if I’m capable of doing something like that, just competing and running at a high level consistently. I love to run … just have fun with these races and enjoy the sport a little more instead of it having to be more of a job.”

Arciniaga recently got sponsored by Under Armour and they had a pretty cool Spider-Man singlet for him to wear today which you could have won if you were the closest to guessing his finishing time. I asked him how things with Under Armour have been so far and he said he loves the shoes (they’re “2:11 shoes” now as he wore them in Boston). He also has enjoyed working with the company directly as they flew him out to their headquarters in Baltimore to get his input on developing shoes/gear for the future and Arciniaga said he really appreciate that as he’s never been involved with a company where they really valued his opinion.

More: Full Race Results
*LRC 2014 Bay To Breakers 12K: Kenya’s Geoffrey Kenisi And Iowa’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) Get The Wins As Sara Hall (2nd) And Ben Bruce (7th) Are Top Americans
*San Francisco Examiner: Diane Johnson wins second Bay to Breakers race in a row Johnson says that after training for marathons this race “feels like a sprint”.
*SFGate: Bay to Breakers hits its stride after slow start Includes a run down of some of the police crackdowns on drinking and arrest reports.
*SFGate: Bay to Breakers tamer this year, Panhandle residents say
*Nukuri-Johnson’s win at Bay To Breakers was just one of many great performances across the US for Iowa based runners Shelby Houlihan, Katy Moen, Edward Kemboi, Rob McCann all thrived as well.
*MB: Bay to Breakers results
*MB: Ryan Hall has pulled out of tmw’s Bay to Breakers


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