By  Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

June 22, 2012

BOSTON -- For Boston Marathon champions Geoffrey Mutai, Caroline Kilel, and Sharon Cherop, this Sunday's B.A.A. 10-K will be a homecoming. Speaking at the Boston Athletic Association's offices here earlier today, the three were happy to be back in Boston, a city they all consider to be a second home.

Mutai, 30, the 2011 Boston Marathon winner, hopes to defend his B.A.A. 10-K title from a year ago.

"It is true because I am me again," Mutai said, reflecting on his comment from a year ago when he told Race Results Weekly that he thought of Boston as his home away from the Koibatek District in Kenya. "Every time, when I hear that in Boston there is a race and they invited me, Iím organized and Iím focusing for it. Itís not even a competition for me. Itís like a welcoming."

After his 27:19 win here last year, a mark that ranks as the second fastest 10-K ever run on American soil, Mutai solidified his stance on the Massachusetts capitol.

"I love Boston," he said. Adding with a laugh, "for my future maybe I am looking at staying in Boston."

Turning serious during the conference call, Mutai addressed questions on his Kenyan Olympic team status and his preparation for Sunday's race. No sign of bitterness was found in Mutai's quiet tone.

"I am not there, but it has not stopped me in my career or my focusing. I am still focusing. I am looking now to my next race. So I am okay, and I am well-prepared, myself," he said. "I am focusing for my next events and next marathon."

Mutai also added that he feels in great shape, and hopes if he is pushed, to challenge his course record of 27:19.

Cherop, this year's Boston Marathon champion, is hoping for her third podium finish in Boston.  The 28-year-old placed third at the 2011 Boston Marathon, then came back and won the laurel wreath in 2012.

"It was not in my plan [to come back for the B.A.A. 10-K," the mother of one said. "I heard last year from Geoffrey Mutai that there is also a 10-K in Boston. After winning in the Boston Marathon, I decided that I wish to come back again."

With her usual bubbly smile across her face, Cherop, Kilel, and Mutai posed for pictures with the Boston Marathon Champion's Trophy once the conference call was completed.

"Good memories, very good," said the beaming Cherop.

Kilel will be trying to defend her B.A.A. 10-K title against Cherop, a women who has pushed her in each of the last two Boston Marathons.

"I come here because I like Boston," said the 2011 Boston Marathon champion, who speaks in a very soft tone. "I feel good. Sunday we hope the weather is good, and we will help each other."

For these three Kenyans, Sunday's B.A.A. 10-K may not be the only race they are a part of on Boston Common. Following the B.A.A. 10-K, kids races will be held adjacent to the finish line, of which Mutai and Kilel participated in last year. When looking through the B.A.A.'s collection of trophies and memorabilia, Mutai stumbled upon autograph cards of himself, of which he will be signing for the kids after their races.

"Maybe someday I can bring my children to Boston, and they can run around with yours [Boston's children]. That would be fun," said the proud father of two.

Mutai's comment was ironic considering his youngest daughter Marieke was born when he was in Boston winning last year's B.A.A. 10-K.

"Even when I was coming here, I told my family Iím going to the home of my daughter, Marieke. When she was born, I was in Boston. So I told them, 'When you celebrate your birthday, I am in your home.'"


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