IRELAND'S FAGAN And ETHIOPIA's GEBRE WIN 2009 B.A.A. HALF MARATHON,
presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund
RECORD FIELD RUNS REGION'S MOST POPULAR 13.1-MILE RACE THROUGH CITY OF
BOSTON AND TOWN OF BROOKLINE'S EMERALD NECKLACE PARK SYSTEM
October 11, 2009
BOSTON, Mass. -- Under sunny skies and a crisp start time temperature
of 41 degrees, a record field of runners competed in the 9th Annual
B.A.A Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the
Jimmy Fund. A crowd of 4025 runners started the 13.1 mile loop course
within the City of Boston and Town of Brookline's famed Emerald
Necklace park system. Many new faces led the way in one of the most
popular events of the fall racing season, but Ireland's Martin Fagan
(1:02:21) and Ethiopia's Belainesh Gebre (1:11:07) emerged through the
Emerald Necklace route as the day's victors.
The men's elite field included John Korir, of Kenya, one of the most
successful road racers over the past decade. Most were looking to the
experience of Korir to control the pace, but it was his countryman
Philemon Terer who decided to take the race out from the gun and daring
the other runners to keep close. Joining Terer from the start was
Providence College graduate Martin Fagan, of Ireland. After his recent
Irish record in the half marathon of 1:00:57 early this year (Den Haag,
2009), Fagan was now both confident and experienced on this course.
The race seemed to be down to two men by the time they hit the first
mile mark. Terer and Fagan were shoulder to shoulder from that point
on, with only a slight charge from Korir to make things interesting.
Terer's experience running fast times in the half marathon clearly
gave him the early advantage. Over the past three years, Terer has
completed the distance under 62 minutes three times.
After opening miles of 4:43 and 4:41, the pack was left in Terer and
Fagan's wake. The two continued to battle until they entered Franklin
Park Zoo, where Fagan seemed to relax and give Terer a chance to make a
move. Fagan admitted, "I put my head down, and just kind of lost myself
running through the zoo. Before I knew it, Terer has a three second gap
Terer's lead, however, was short-lived, as Fagan kept confident with
his knowledge of the course. "I got it back around the 8th mile," he
said. "I knew the course, and once I saw him fade on the uphill coming
back, I knew I could pull him back."
That hill near Arnold Arboretum (8-mile mark) seemed to take just
enough out of Terer¹s legs for Fagan to pull up alongside and continue
the two man battle they created from the start. With another 4:43 in
the 10th mile, Fagan was clearly daring Terer to keep up with his
newfound momentum. By this point, Korir was a distant third place and
was slowly being caught by American Jeff Eggleston.
Coming into the final two miles, neither Terer nor Fagan were giving up
an inch to each other, making the race outcome decided in the final
strides. With 100 meters to go, Fagan found the edge he needed and
pulled five meters ahead to earn the victory and become only the second
Irish born runner to take the title behind Marie Davenport's two
victories (2003, 2006) and women's course record effort ('03). Fagan's
time of 1:02:21 was just one second off the course record of 1:20.20
(Tom Nyariki, KEN, 2007).
Terer commented after the race, "I felt a stitch in my side the last mile,
and he (Fagan) looked very strong. It was a very good race for me, and I
felt good on the hills. I wanted to win, but I just couldn't keep up at the
Fagan was full of praise for the event and especially the course
design. "After I lost that lead, we started to come back towards the rest of
the participants heading into the zoo," he said. "Everyone was cheering for
me to catch up, and that's all the motivation I needed to get back into the
Eggleston, a graduate of the University of Virginia, ended up catching
Korir for third place near the late stages of the race, and was very
pleased with his overall performance. "I just kept a steady pace, and
started picking guys off at the end," said the 2009 B.A.A. Half
Marathon's top American male. Now training under the tutelage of the
famed coach Jack Daniels in the Flagstaff, Arizona altitude, Eggleston
is looking towards his 26.2 mile debut in January at the Phoenix
The women's race played out in a similar scenario, as two women took
charge from the starting gun with one of Poland's top marathon runners,
Karolina Jarzynska, taking out the race with Jilliah Tingea, of Kenya.
The two women opened up a gap on the rest of the field by the third
mile, and only Belainish Gerbre, of Ethiopia, could keep them within
The night before the race Gebre seemed concerned about a lingering
injury, having raced a half marathon just last weekend. "It was hard to
travel from my training home in Flagstaff [AZ] to San Jose [Calif.] for
a race, back to Flagstaff, and then come here," she said.
However, her experience as one of Ethiopia's top junior runners in
recent years wasn't going to stop her from competing at her best. "For
me, training in Flagstaff is much like training at altitude in
Ethiopia. So I have felt very comfortable since moving there five years
After splits of 5:19, 5:15 and 5:18 from miles 9 through 11, it was
indeed Gebre who was now in charge, with Jarzynska slowing fading off
the back. By the 12th mile, Gebre was even clear of Tingea, as she
cruised home to a 36 second victory in 1:11:07. Tingea was able to hold
on for second place in 1:11:43, with Jarzynska coming in for third
After the race Gebre seemed to shrug off her heavy travel and racing
schedule and, in fact, looked forward to a 10-kilometer race next
weekend. "My hamstring was a little tight, but in the end I felt very
good in the final miles," she said after the convincing victory. "Next
week I will run in Minnesota, and then back to my training camp for
some well deserved rest."
Wayne Levy of Newton, MA, the inaugural B.A.A. Half Marathon champion
(2001) was the second place masters finisher in 1:13:04. Levy is one of
nearly 50 runners who have participated in every B.A.A. Half Marathon.
Maria Varela of Brighton, MA, the inaugural B.A.A. 5K champion from
earlier this year, finished as the 11th place female in a time of
5364 officially registered entrants, 4025 official starters, and 3989
finishers represented the largest field of entrants, starters and
finishers in event history.
Kathy Newberry of Williamsburg, VA, was the top American woman, placing
fourth in 1:13:31, which was her best time at the B.A.A. Half Marathon.
She has now placed as the top American finisher in the last three
B.A.A. Half Marathons. She finished third in 2007 (1:16:44) and seventh
in 2008 (1:13:44).
Men¹s fourth place finisher overall, Peter Gilmore, was the top
American Ffinisher at the 2007 Boston Marathon, and ran this year¹s BAA
Half Marathon as his final training race in his build to the 2009 ING
New York City Marathon.
More than 500 participants competed for Dana-Farber Runners, a
fund-raising effort for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy
Fund, the event's presenting sponsors, and 2009 marked the seventh
consecutive year they have played such a role for the event.