By Jonathan Gault
April 15, 2017
BOSTON — Another year, another win in Boston, another American road record for Ben True. In a carbon copy of the 2015 edition, the 31-year-old Maine native broke the tape at the to earn his fourth title at the 2017 B.A.A. 5K on Boston Common in 13:20. Just like in 2015, it was True and Kenya’s Stephen Sambu battling to the finish line for the victory. And just like in 2015, True prevailed in American-record time (he was two seconds faster this year). Sambu, whom True dropped on the final straightaway down Charles Street, was second in 13:22 on a beautiful spring day in New England, with fellow Kenyan James Kibet third in 13:28. In the women’s race, Molly Huddle was denied a fourth straight victory as 2016 runner-up Buze Diriba turned the tables on Huddle and edged her out in a close race, 14:54 to 14:56.
Ethiopia’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel took it out hard, leading a pack of 10 men through the mile in 4:20. True joined him and Stephen Sambu up front as they passed under Massachusetts Avenue and began pushing the pace as they followed the marathon course onto Hereford Street. True and Sambu made the turn onto Charles Street with just under 200 meters remaining and opened up a slight gap with 50 meters to go that was enough for the victory.
Huddle also took the women’s race out quickly, hitting the mile in 4:46, but that did little to string out the field behind her. At three kilometers, Diriba made a big move, opening a gap of five meters on Huddle, 2016 Olympian Marielle Hall and Kalkidan Gezahegne of Bahrain. Huddle was the only one able to reel her in, catching Diriba with a kilometer to go to set the stage for a wild finish.
“We were shoulder-to-shoulder coming around the turn with 200 to go but there were a few men in our way,” Huddle said. “So I was trying to follow her. My legs were really tired, so I thought, ‘Stay right behind her, don’t make your move yet.’ And we kind of got scattered by a couple of the guys.”
The two women sprinted toward the line, dodging the men’s runners in between them, but Huddle could not overcome the slight gap Diriba had earned on the turn and her Ethiopian rival pulled away for the victory.
“I was thinking stay behind, but maybe I should have just tried to take that inside corner [on the final turn] and just go for it,” Huddle said. “I was afraid to move too early because I was so tired. I knew it would be a very close finish if I were to try and stay with her. So I maybe in hindsight should have just tried to go for it right on that inside line and see if that would have been any better. But she had more left in her legs. I was just dying.
Gezahegne was third in 15:04 with Hall fourth in 15:08 in just the second road race of her professional career.
Results and interviews appear below.
Talk about the face on our fan forum: FF: While you were sleeping: Ben True just broke the American 5k record
Men’s top five results (full elite results here)
1. Ben True, West Lebanon NH 13:20
2. Stephen Sambu (KEN), Phoenix AZ 13:22
3. James Kibet, Kenya 13:28
4. Philip Langat, Kenya 13:30
5. Dejen Gebremeskel, Ethiopia 13:35
Women’s top five results (full elite results here)
1. Buze Diriba, Ethiopia 14:54
2. Molly Huddle, Providence RI 14:56
3. Kalkidan Gezahegne, Bahrain 15:04
4. Marielle Hall, Mt. Laurel NJ 15:08
5. Lauren Howarth, Great Britain 15:39
Quick Thought #1: Ben True is changing things up in 2017 and so far, it’s working
This year, True ran an indoor season for the first time since his first year as a pro in 2010 and the results were impressive, as he outkicked World Indoor silver medallist Ryan Hill to win the 2-mile at Millrose in 8:11 before heading to Boston two weeks later and running 13:06 for 5,000 meters. He continued his hot streak today, winning here for the fourth time (he also claimed titles in 2011, 2012 and 2015).
Running an indoor season isn’t the only change True has made this year, as he’s running faster, shorter intervals at 5k pace in workouts rather than the long, grinding stuff that formed the backbone of his training in years past. True doesn’t have a bad kick, and he has run a very respectable 3:36 for 1500 meters, but to be competitive internationally, he needs to keep improving it. He ran his final 400 at the Olympic Trials last summer in 53.95, but that was still only good enough for fifth. Winner Bernard Lagat closed in 52.82, over a second faster.
True, who has doubled up in the 5k and 10k at USAs in each of the past two years, has always preferred the 5k and says he’s putting the longer distance on hold for this year. Expect several other Americans to follow suit. With the 10k and 5k finals on consecutive days at USAs this year, there aren’t going to be many men attempting the double.
It’s still early, but so far True’s new approach is working. He ran two seconds faster today than he did at the same race in 2015, his best year as a pro, when he qualified for the World Championships at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He’ll get a bigger test in his next race: he’ll be running the 3,000 in Doha on May 5 against Olympic 5k silver medallist Paul Chelimo, World Indoor 3k champ Yomif Kejelcha and Olympic steeple champ Conseslus Kipruto.
Quick Thought #2: A rough day for Ethiopian Olympic medallists Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet
Another good sign for True: he smoked Gebremeskel, who outkicked True to win this race last year, and Gebrhiwet, who medalled at Worlds in 2015 and Rio last summer. Gebremeskel, who won the Carlsbad 5000 two weeks ago, was only fifth in 13:35, while Gebrhiwet was way back in seventh in 13:42. Both men have been fixtures on recent Ethiopian national teams, but they still have plenty of time to turn things around between now and London.
Quick Thought #3: A strong run by Molly Huddle as she prepares for the Prefontaine Classic 5,000
Huddle was obviously upset not to get the victory in a race she’s owned in recent years, but she was happy with the time as 14:56 is only six seconds off the American road record she set here two years ago. Fellow elite Kara Goucher was definitely impressed by the effort.
— Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) April 15, 2017
Goucher raises a good point, as Huddle’s consistency over 5,000 meters is unparalleled among American women. Her 14:56 today was her 12th career sub-15 across all surfaces, easily the most ever by an American.
Most career sub-15:00 5ks, American women
*Jacobs was a drug cheat
Huddle will race next at the Prefontaine Classic in late May. Huddle said that she doesn’t know for sure who else is in the field but believes both Genzebe Dibaba and Laura Muir are entered. Huddle wants to reclaim the American 5,000 record of 14:38.92 from Shannon Rowbury, and said that she’d like to do it at the Pre Classic. She knows that May is still early for someone peaking in August, however, and hopes to take a few more cracks at it this summer. When Huddle first broke the American record in 2010, she set it on August 27 in Brussels. When she broke it for the second time, it came on July 18 in Monaco.
Stephen Sambu interview