RRW: 2013 Boston Marathon Champ Lelisa Desisa And Molly Huddle Headline B.A.A. Half-Marathon Elite Fields Set For Next Sunday

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
October 3, 2014

Earlier today, the Boston Athletic Association, organizers of the B.A.A. Half-Marathon, announced the men’s and women’s elite fields for the event’s 14th edition, to be held on Sunday, October 12. Among those headlining the event are reigning champion and 2013 Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, as well as America’s fastest half-marathoner this year, Molly Huddle.

Desisa, 24, returns to Boston with hopes of retaining his title. In 2013, Desisa recorded an event record of 1:00:34, finishing ahead of Kenyans Daniel Salel and Stephen Sambu.  He’ll be using this race as part of his preparations for the TCS New York City Marathon on November 2.  He was officially added to the field today.

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“When I win I am happy,” Desisa told Race Results Weekly following his 2013 victory. “I like Boston. I like the people of Boston. And I am one of the people of Boston.”

Although he has had success in Boston, winning both the half and full marathons and finishing second at the B.A.A. 10-K in 2013, Desisa hasn’t raced since dropping out of this year’s Boston Marathon on April 21. In February he won the RAK Half-Marathon in 59:36.

After a third place finish in 2013, Stephen Sambu comes back east riding a hot streak. In Massachusetts this year, Sambu has shined, recording victories at the B.A.A. 10-K in June and the New Balance Falmouth Road Race in August. At the B.A.A. 10-K, Sambu set an Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) world record for 8-K, splitting 22:01.03 en route to winning the event in 27:25 over two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and 2011 Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai.

Among those joining Desisa, Sambu, and the aforementioned Salel on the starting line will be Leonard Korir, Raji Assefa, and Tesfalem Gebrearegawi. Isaac Mukundi, Tekeste Kebede, Ethan Shaw, Patrick Geoghegan, and Cleophas Ngetich.

Huddle, who lives in trains in Providence, R.I., will travel roughly 35 miles northeast to race in her second half-marathon. In her debut at the 2014 NYC Half, Huddle finished third in 1:09:04. Since then she’s won the B.A.A. 5-K (15:12); set the American record for 5000m on the track (14:42.64); and national titles at 20-K, 7 miles, 5-K and 5000m.

The B.A.A. Half-Marathon is set to be a rematch of the memorable duel between Huddle and Mamitu Daska, the latter a two-time B.A.A. 10-K champion from Ethiopia. At the B.A.A. 5-K in April, Huddle came from behind to edge Daska by two seconds, 15:12 to 15:14.  The pair also duked it out at the Oakley NYRR Mini 10-K in June, with Huddle coming out on top in an American record 31:37; Daska placed second in 31:49. Huddle appears to be sharp and in racing shape, having just won the USA 5-K Championships at the CVS Downtown Health 5-K in Providence on September 21. Her time there was 15:10, a personal best.

Kenya’s Mary Wacera is the fastest woman in the field, having run 1:07:44 to earn a silver medal at this year’s IAAF World Championships Half-Marathon. Also from Kenya are Betsy Saina and Linet Masai, both making their half-marathon debuts on the streets of Boston. Saina has had success in the Bay State, finishing second at the B.A.A. 10-K and winning the New Balance Falmouth Road Race. She is the current world leader for 10-K on the roads.

Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros, second in both 2013 and 2012, will also be competing. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, Cynthia Limo, Sophy Jepchirchir, and Mary Wangechi round out athlete group from Kenya, while Portland, Maine’s Michelle Lilienthal joins Huddle as the top American women entered.  Like Desisa, Lilienthal is running the TCS New York City Marathon.

Two-time defending champion Kim Smith of New Zealand is unable to go for her third title in a row; she is home in Providence recovering from ankle surgery.

The winner of the B.A.A. Half Marathon will take home $10,000, plus an additional $10,000 if he or she betters the event records of 1:00:34 for men (Desisa, 2013) or 1:09:14 for women (Kim Smith, 2013). The Boston Athletic Association reports a field of 8,000 will race the B.A.A. Half-Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. Last year, there were a race record 6,534 finishers.

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