2014 BAA 10k is Sunday: 6 Storylines led by G. Mutai vs. Gebremeskel and Sambu

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(18-Jun) — In advance of Sunday’s B.A.A. 10-K, Race Results Weekly breaks down six storylines going into the fast race through Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The second event of the Boston Athletic Association’s Distance Medley series, the B.A.A. 10-K is in its fourth year.

In 2011, Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai made history on the roads of Boston, becoming the fastest marathoner of all time with a 2:03:02 victory at the 115th Boston Marathon. Enjoying the city so much, he’d return two months later to dominate the inaugural B.A.A. 10-K in 27:19, a personal best mark that still is the event record.

Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 in Boston in 2010.  *More 2011 Boston Marathon Photos Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 in Boston in 2010.
*More 2011 Boston Marathon Photos

“For me it was like a dream, because I can win the Boston Marathon and then I come to win the B.A.A. 10-K. I feel like I am special now in Boston. I feel like I am at home, I enjoy myself in Boston,” Mutai said then. He’d return in 2012 to successfully defend his title in 27:29.

Now 32-years-old, Mutai is an even more decorated athlete, having won the 2011 and 2013 TCS New York City Marathons, setting a course record of 2:04:15 in the latter.

One question begs to be answered: Can Mutai keep up with the 10-K specialists entered in the field, such as Kenyan compatriot Stephen Sambu. On May 24, Mutai ran 28:09 for 10-K in Ottawa, finishing third. He’ll likely need to run faster if he wants to claim a third win in Boston.

Speaking of Sambu, if a Mutai vs. Sambu duel plays out in Boston’s Back Bay, it will surely be a memorable battle. Sambu won last year’s B.A.A. 10-K over Lelisa Desisa in 28:06, and went on to capture the 2013 $100,000 B.A.A. Distance Medley crown. Recently he’s timed 27:39 for 10-K on the roads –a win over world record holder Leonard Patrick Komon at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K in New York City– and a sizzling 26:54.61 performance on the track at the Prefontaine Classic, where he led the first 8100 meters as Galen Rupp‘s rabbit.

Sambu is in the best form of his career, also winning the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in April and placing third by one second to B.A.A. 5-K champion Dejen Gebremeskel in April.

If Sambu and Mutai mix it up, it will be somewhat reminiscent of this year’s NYC Half, where both ran together during the race’s early stages. Mutai would eventually go on to win in 1:00:50, while Sambu finished third in 1:01:08.

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A post-race interview of Sambu after the BAA 5k is embedded below:

Not to be forgotten is Gebremeskel, the Olympic silver medalist at 5000m. The 24-year-old Ethiopian has twice won the B.A.A. 5-K, which starts and finishes in the same location as the B.A.A. 10-K.

Although he has shined at 5-K on the roads this year –winning the Carlsbad 5000 in a world leading 13:13– Gebremeskel wasn’t great in the Oslo 5000 (13:09 for 7th) and is relatively untested over 6.2 miles. According to respected statistics website Tilastopaja.org, Gebremeskel’s last 10-K contest on the roads came in 2011, when he ran 27:45 for second at the World’s Best 10-K. Last year he was a disappointing 16th in the IAAF World Championships 10,000m, running 27:51.88. Perhaps 

The question remains can Gebremeskel stay close with Mutai and Sambu to the end? If he does come out on top, he’ll become the first Ethiopian to win the B.A.A. 10-K.

Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska returns to Boston as the leading favorite on the women’s side, hoping to retain her title from a year ago. Daska has raced often on the American road racing scene this year, seeming to recover quite well from week to week. Over the last two months, she’s earned six podium finishes in six races and has not finished any lower than second place. Among her wins include the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile and Bolder BOULDER 10-K.

At the B.A.A. 5-K on April 19, Daska finished a close second to Molly Huddle. Since then, she’s gone on to finish runner-up at two highly competitive 10-K’s in New York’s Central Park: the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K (31:41) and Oakley Women’s 10-K (31:49).

Always an aggressive racer, Daska very well could try and replicate her winning strategy from a year ago, when she pulled away from New Zealand’s Kim Smith in the early miles.

If Daska wins the $10,000 first-place prize, she will become the first woman to win two titles in race history.

If this year’s B.A.A. 5-K was any indication, then Betsy Saina and Linet Masai look to be Daska’s biggest challengers. Taking fourth and sixth, Saina and Masai were two and seven seconds behind Daska at the finish line on April 19.

Saina is coming off a 8:40.65 3000m performance at the adidas Grand Prix IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York last Saturday, where she defeated Kalkidan Gezahegne, Sally Kipyego, Kim Conley, and Julia Bleasdale. Certainly the track speed could come in handy if she’s battling up front on Sunday.

As for Masai, she has run 32:27 and 32:16 for a pair of 10-K’s since May 18.

New for 2014 is an enhanced prize money structure for the B.A.A. 10-K. Similar to last year, the top ten finishers on both the men’s and women’s sides will take home a slice of the $48,500 purse. However, new bonus incentives make the race even more lucrative.

If the men’s winner runs faster than Geoffrey Mutai’s event record of 27:19, or a women finishes in front of Kim Smith‘s 31:36, they will earn an extra $7,500.

Also offered this year is a bonus incentive for top finishers of the B.A.A.’s four primary events: the Boston Marathon, B.A.A. 5-K, B.A.A. 10-K, and B.A.A. Half-Marathon.

If an athlete wins three of the four aforementioned events, they’ll earn $50,000. If they win two of the four events, they’ll take home $20,000.

Placing in the top two at three B.A.A. events will earn you $10,000, while finishing on the podium at three races gets you $5,000.

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