By Chris Lotsbom
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
BOSTON (14-Apr) — For the third straight year, the men’s race here at the B.A.A. 5-K came down to a long sprint on Boylston Street, as Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel separated from American Aaron Braun to set a new event record of 13:37. With his win, Gebremeskel becomes the first non-American to win the race, now in its fifth year.
“This is my first time here for the Boston Marathon and the atmosphere is very nice,” said the 23-year-old, who won an Olympic silver medal last summer in London at 5000m. “All the people are talking about the marathon. I am so happy for this race.”
With temperatures rather cool and a brisk wind blowing, Gebremeskel and Braun led a group of eight through the opening kilometer, with Ireland’s Alistair Cragg, Australian Brett Robinson, and Kenyans Lani Rutto, Allan Kiprono, Steven Sambu and Daniel Salel all in tow. Taking turns at the front was Cragg, who days ago announced that he will be a volunteer coach for the men’s track and field team at Brown University.
Hitting the mile in 4:24, Gebremeskel looked to be running within himself alongside Cragg. Coming off a 13:20 performance at the Carlsbad 5000 last Sunday, the Addis Ababa native was confident he could wait until the later stages of the race to make a decisive move.
“It was a little bit cold so that’s why I am not running very fast,” explained Gebremeskel. “But at the finishing [straight, I knew] I was to push.”
Splitting 9:00 through two miles (3.2 km), Gebremeskel began to get antsy. Moving up the Massachusetts Avenue underpass, he began to pump his arms a bit harder, though not yet switching into his final gear. As the athletes made the U-turn at approximately 2.3 miles (3.7 km), a clear injection of speed came from the Ethiopian. But Braun, who through the second mile had tucked in behind the lead pack, and Rutto were able to respond.
Turning onto Hereford Street with less than a kilometer remaining, Gebremeskel, Braun and Rutto were ready to re-enact the past two B.A.A. 5-K men’s races, which have been decided by a combined two seconds.
With the finish in sight, Gebremeskel finally transitioned into his fastest gear. Braun, who only a week ago won the Go! St. Louis Half-Marathon, responded with everything he had, though it simply was not enough to catch the Ethiopian, who has run 12:46.81 for 5000m on the track.
“I waited because it was a little bit cold weather so I waited until the last 400 [meters] then I changed my speed and sprinted,” said Gebremeskel. “This is comfortable [pace]. It is good.”
Gebremeskel would break the tape to the applause of thousands, timing a new event record of 13:37. Three seconds later came Braun, with Rutto third in 13:41.
“The last 200 and 300 [meters] I changed my speed and lengthened my stride and I finished,” said Gebremeskel, sporting a broad smile.
With his win, Gebremeskel takes the early lead of the B.A.A. Distance Medley, which awards $100,000 to the male and female with the lowest cumulative time after the B.A.A. 5-K, B.A.A. 10-K (June), and B.A.A. Half Marathon (October).
“I hope I will run good; I am running the 10-K and half-marathon so I wanted to win this race,” he said. After being asked what winning the B.A.A. Distance Medley would mean, he giggled before simply saying, “I hope so.”
Finishing in second with a new personal best, Braun was pleased with his performance.
“My goal has always been just to see how far I can take this, to tap into every single ability that God gave me,” he said.
Interestingly, for the first time ever, Braun ran in the same race as his wife, Annika. After the elites had passed the U-turn between miles two and three, Braun was looking across the road in hopes to catch a brief glimpse of his wife of nearly two years.
That’s when the 25-year-old father of one realized he’d better focus on the task at hand.
“I was looking for her for a couple seconds and then was like ‘what the hell are you doing, you are running against Gebremeskel, you need all the focus you can get,'” he said laughing. Braun’s relaxed approach worked well in the end.
“I told myself that nothing you do in the second mile is going to change the race that much. [I] just tried to relax as much as I could and I felt great so I was really excited about that,” he said. “I was ready to kick [at the end]…I was just trying to give the crowd something to cheer about today.”
Behind third place finisher Rutto, Kiprono and Sambu rounded out the top five. Cragg, one of the early leaders, faded between miles two and three, ultimately finishing eighth in 14:07.
(Men’s Post-Ract Videos and Results at Bottom)
SMITH RUNS AWAY WITH WOMEN’S TITLE
As the reigning B.A.A. Distance Medley champion, Kim Smith wanted to begin her quest to defend her title with a strong performance in Sunday’s B.A.A. 5-K. She did just that, winning seven seconds up on the field in 15:16.
For a distance she considers her weakest of the three, Smith pleasantly surprised herself.
“It is nice to win at that,” said Smith, 31. “The longer it goes, the stronger I feel. It gives me some confidence for the rest of the series for sure.”
Going out hard from the gun was Werknesh Kidane, the reigning champion and last year’s fourth place finisher at the Olympic 10,000m. By the opening mile, though, the Ethiopian –who is the wife of marathoner Gebre Gebremariam– was caught by Smith and 2011 race winner Lineth Chepkurui.
The group would stay together for the better half of two miles before Smith began separating herself from the chasing Africans.
“I was feeling pretty good at that stage and pushed a little bit and got away,” Smith said, speaking with reporters moments after she crossed the finish line.
After passing two miles in 9:47, Smith ran the remainder of the race by herself. Her time was just four seconds shy of Kidane’s event record.
“It was nice to get my legs moving fast,” said Smith, who is focusing on the track this year rather than a spring marathon.
In second came Chepkurui, who was ecstatic with her finish, considering she is only just coming off of a back injury that has bothered her for two and a half years. She ran poorly at last Sunday’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Washington, D.C., where she faded badly in the last two miles to finish 17th.
“Running today, I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” she admitted. “But I could manage to three kilometers and then I could not race at the pace and then I had to relax a bit. But I thought it was good enough to maintain and I am so happy to be second.”
Rounding out the top three was Smith’s training partner, USA Olympian Molly Huddle, timing 15:28.
“I haven’t raced in a while so this was like a rust-buster,” said a cheerful Huddle. “I was happy.”
Both Smith and Huddle said the recent increase in track-specific workouts under coach Ray Treacy has been very beneficial. In Providence, R.I., the duo train with Amy Hastings, Ava Hutchinson, and Mary Cullen.
Like Huddle, Smith’s focus for 2013 is the IAAF World Championships in Russia this summer. Deciding to take this spring off from a marathon is bittersweet for the New Zealand-native Smith, who has a personal best of 2:25:21.
“There’s so much buzz in the city this weekend. It’s always nice to win in Boston, especially this weekend,” she said. Asked if she was happy or regretting her decision to pass up a marathon, Smith said a little bit of both.
“It’s hard not being out there, but the 5-K feels a lot less pressure and it’s kind of nice to be over in 15 minutes as opposed to 2 hours and 24.”
Post Race Interviews From 5k and Mile
|Kim Smith Closet to $100k
|Brenda Martinez Won the Mile
|| Gabrielle Anderson In the Mile
|Nick Willis After Winning Mile
|| Nick Willis On Going from Reebok to Adidas
|Donn Cabral 5th in Mile