With An Assist from Meseret Defar, Sentayehu Ejigu Sets Course Record at Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women, Emily Infeld Second

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By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (14-Oct) — On a picture perfect day with conditions ideal for racing, Ethiopia’s Sentayehu Ejigu broke a 25-year-old course record en route to winning the Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women here on the streets of Boston. Breaking away shortly before four miles (6.44 km), the 28-year-old ran all alone in front of 5916 other women to a final time of 31:32.9, becoming the race’s first champion from Ethiopia. She won $5000 in prize money.

“I am very happy for this race. It means a lot for me to come and have my first good performance after two years,” said Global Athletics & Marketing representative Matt McCarron, translating for Ejigu.

After a pedestrian opening mile of 5:11, a lead pack began to form as the women’s only field crossed the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge above the Charles River. Congregating at the front were Ejigu, Americans Janet Bawcom and Emily Infeld, as well as Kenyans Risper Gesabwa and Alice Kamunya.

Still all together at 5 kilometers –hit in 16:03– Ejigu seemed most comfortable of the five leaders, arms pumping and eyes focused on the road ahead.

With the four mile marker in sights, Ejigu injected a surge that shook up the group. Infeld and Gesabwa worked together to counter the move, as Bawcom and Kamunya began to fade off the back.

“I could definitely feel her taking off and I didn’t know if my legs had it in them to go with her,” said Infeld, who trains alongside Massachusetts native Shalane Flanagan under coach Jerry Schumacher in Portland, Ore. “I think it was kind of a shock when she surged like that.”

Crossing back over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and returning to the city’s Back Bay neighborhood, Ejigu glanced behind only to see Infeld far in the distance, more than ten seconds adrift. In the midst of her second consecutive sub-five minute mile, Ejigu wasn’t quite sure how much racing she had left.

“I felt very comfortable throughout the race,” she said through McCarron. “I kept looking back because I didn’t see kilometer markers, and I don’t know miles very much. I was unsure of my fitness because I haven’t had a good competition after more than a year of injuries.”

Keeping her foot on the gas pedal, Ejigu continued pushing through the finish, timed in 31:32.9. Her time was five seconds faster than Anne Hannam’s 1988 course record mark.

Extremely shy and refusing to speak directly with the media, Global Athletics representative McCarron talked on behalf of Ejigu. He said that Ejigu was very pleased with the performance and was surprised with the course record. As McCarron spoke to Race Results Weekly, Ejigu was on the phone with two-time Olympic champion Meseret Defar, who offered congratulations.

Sentayehu Ejigu on her way to winning the 2013 Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women in Boston in a course record 31:32.9 (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

Sentayehu Ejigu on her way to winning the 2013 Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women in Boston in a course record 31:32.9 (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

As it turns out, Defar told Global Athletics management that Ejigu appeared extremely fit while training in Ethiopia and urged the athlete management group to enter Ejigu in a race.

“Meseret is thrilled for her,” said McCarron. “They are very good friends and she is very happy for her. This is big for her.”

Behind Ejigu, Infeld placed second in 31:46.6. The 23-year-old Georgetown University graduate was pleased with her time, the fastest 10-K on the roads by an American this year.

“Obviously I was wishing for the win, but I mean I have to be happy. I gave all I had out there and I don’t think I could have run that [what Ejigu did] today,” she said.

Third went to Gesabwa (32:11.2), with Bawcom fourth in 32:27.4. Bawcom, who won the event in 2011 when it was still the USA Championship, is coming back from a battle with shin splints and is anxious for next month’s ING New York City Marathon.

“It felt a little quicker than I wanted, but I feel strong,” she said. “I’m getting better every day and I’m excited to get fourth place today. Just to run under 33 [minutes], that was my goal.”

Rounding out the top five was Alice Kamunya in 32:31.6. Two-time champion Katie McGregor wound up 20th in 34:03.5.

LRC Note: There was also a team competition at the Tufts 10k with more money in the team competition ($26,200) than the individual competition ($17,000). Team USA Arizona with Janet Bawcom, Amy Van Alstine, Kellyn Johnson, Alvina Begay won the team competition and $10,000 ahead of BRC/Adidas (Alisha Williams, Mattie Suver, Brianne Nelson) $6,000 and Hanson Brooks (Katie Kellner, Dot McMahan, Corey Conner, Neely Spence Gracey).

More on Anne Hannam the previous record holder:
*Chicago Tribune From 1996: Running on Empty: “She arrived like a flash of flame and disappeared like a wisp of smoke. In that magical summer and fall of 1988, Anne Hannam ran nine road races from Alaska to Massachusetts, won all nine and set seven course records. She also weighed 96 pounds and was starving herself slowly. Eventually water became the enemy too…”
*LRC Forums: Whatever Happened to Anne Hannam?

*Emily Infeld 31:47 Road 10k

Top 30 and Team Results below. More at Cool Running results site:

    1     1/  10 FOPEN   31:33#   $5000  5:05 Sentayehu Ejigu        28 F     4 ETHIOPIA                                     
New record.  Old record 31:38 by Anne Hannam of New Zealand in 1988
    2     2/  10 FOPEN   31:47#   $4000  5:07 Emily Infeld           23 F    30 Concord MA                                   
    3     3/  10 FOPEN   32:12#   $3500  5:11 Risper Gesabwa         24 F    27 Marietta GA KENYA                            
    4     4/  10 FOPEN   32:28#   $2500  5:14 Janet Bawcom           35 F    10 Rome GA                                      
    5     5/  10 FOPEN   32:32#   $2000  5:14 Alice Kamunya          22 F     8 Schenectady NY KENYA                         
    6     6/  10 FOPEN   32:51#          5:18 Amy Van Alstine        25 F    54 Flagstaff AZ                                 
    7     7/  10 FOPEN   33:05#   33:05  5:20 Alisha Williams        31 F    56 Colorado Springs CO                          
    8     8/  10 FOPEN   33:14#   33:14  5:21 Rkia El Moukim         25 F    23 Briarcliff Manor NY                          
    9     9/  10 FOPEN   33:15#   33:15  5:21 Mattie Suver           26 F    52 Colorado Springs CO                          
   10    10/  10 FOPEN   33:17#   33:17  5:22 Brianne Nelson         32 F    42 Golden CO                                    
   11     1/1315 F2029   33:23#   33:22  5:23 Katie Kellner          22 F    34 Rochester MI                                 
   12     2/1315 F2029   33:24#   33:24  5:23 Kellyn Johnson         27 F    33 Flagstaff AZ                                 
   13     1/1721 F3039   33:24#   33:24  5:23 Dot McMahan            36 F    38 Rochester MI                                 
   14     3/1315 F2029   33:35#   33:35  5:25 Desta Tadesse          25 F    63 Silver Spring MD ETHIOPIA                    
   15     4/1315 F2029   33:47    33:47  5:27 Lindsey Scherf         27 F    49 Durham NC                                    
   16     5/1315 F2029   33:52    33:52  5:27 Jane Murage            26 F    40 Royersford PA KENYA                          
   17     6/1315 F2029   33:54    33:54  5:28 Alissa McKaig          27 F     2 Johnson City TN                              
   18     7/1315 F2029   33:58    33:58  5:28 Molly Pritz            25 F    44 Boulder CO                                   
   19     8/1315 F2029   34:02    34:01  5:29 Susan Jerotich         26 F    31 Chapel Hill NC KENYA                         
   20     2/1721 F3039   34:04*   34:03  5:29 Katie McGregor         36 F     1 Boston MA                                    
   21     9/1315 F2029   34:05    34:05  5:29 Grace Kahura           20 F     9 Schenectady NY KENYA                         
   22    10/1315 F2029   34:06    34:05  5:30 Katie Dicamillo        26 F    20 Providence RI                                
   23    11/1315 F2029   34:14    34:13  5:31 Frances Koons          27 F    58 Bryn Mawr PA                                 
   24    12/1315 F2029   34:14    34:13  5:31 Addie Bracy            27 F    12 Longmont CO                                  
   25    13/1315 F2029   34:20    34:19  5:32 Corey Conner           23 F    17 Rochester MI                                 
   26     3/1721 F3039   34:25    34:25  5:33 Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz  32 F    26 Broomfield CO                                
   27    14/1315 F2029   34:43    34:42  5:35 Liz Costello           25 F    18 Hoboken NJ                                   
   28    15/1315 F2029   34:46    34:46  5:36 Neely Spence Gracey    23 F    51 Rochester MI                                 
   29    16/1315 F2029   34:48    34:47  5:36 Kristen Rohde          29 F    46 Portland OR                                  
   30    17/1315 F2029   34:48    34:48  5:36 Etaferahu Temesgen     23 F    64 Silver Spring MD ETHIOPIA

Team results: 

                            USATF TEAM RESULTS
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1.  TEAM USA ARIZONA                        $10,000
            32:28   32:51   33:24 (  35:18) = 1:38:43
         Janet Bawcom, Amy Van Alstine, Kellyn Johnson, Alvina Begay
   2.  BRC / ADIDAS                            $6000
            33:05   33:15   33:17 = 1:39:37
         Alisha Williams, Mattie Suver, Brianne Nelson
   3.  HANSONS-BROOKS DISTANCE PROJECT        $4500 
            33:23   33:24   34:20 (  34:46) = 1:41:07
         Katie Kellner, Dot McMahan, Corey Conner, Neely Spence Gracey
   4.  HUDSON TRAINING SYSTEMS               $3000  
            33:58   34:14   34:54 (  35:37) (  36:24) = 1:43:06
         Molly Pritz, Addie Bracy, Kara Lubieniecki, Maggie Callahan, Amanda
         Lee
   5.  NEW BALANCE BOSTON - GREEN              $2700
            34:06   34:52   35:38 (  36:13) (  37:23) = 1:44:36
         Katie Dicamillo, Jillian King, Joanna Murphy, Karen Roa, Katherine
         Rosettie
   6.  NEW BALANCE SILICON VALLEY              
            34:49   34:54   35:05 (  35:14) = 1:44:48
         Megan Deakins, Stephanie Dinius, Kristine Paaso, Kaitlin Gregg
   7.  BOWERMAN ATHLETIC CLUB                  
            34:48   35:50   36:16 = 1:46:54
         Kristen Rohde, Julia Webb, Karlee Coffey
   8.  IMPALA RACING TEAM                      
            36:35   37:00   37:10 (  37:56) = 1:50:45
         Ashley Carroll, Brittany Garrett, Michele Palmer, Michelle Meyer
   9.  GREATER BOSTON TRACK CLUB               
            35:06   37:08   38:32 = 1:50:46
         Sara Donahue, Alyse Rocco, Alyson Millett
  10.  NEW BALANCE BOSTON - GRAY               
            36:15   36:47   37:49 (  39:02) = 1:50:51
         Erin Dromgoole, Caitlin Fahey, Karina Johnson, Dianna Chivakos

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