Ben True (13:22), Molly Huddle (14:50) Win B.A.A. 5Ks, Break American Road Records

April 18, 2015

BOSTON — New England-based Americans Ben True and Molly Huddle kicked off Boston Marathon weekend in style as both notched American record-breaking road 5k victories at the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday morning on Boston Common. In addition to the wins (this was True’s third title and Huddle’s second in a row), both broke the American road record with True’s 13:22 eclipsing Marc Davis‘ 13:24 American record from 1996 and Huddle’s 14:50 bettering Deena Kastor‘s 14:54 AR from 2002. Both previous records were set at the Carlsbad 5000. Huddle’s time is good for fourth on the all-time 5K road list, two seconds behind what Genzebe Dibaba ran three weeks ago at the Carlsbad 5000.

Both races came down to sprint finishes as True pulled ahead of Kenyan Stephen Sambu in the final 200 meters to win by one second. Huddle emerged victorious in a three-way kick against Ethiopians Sentayehu Ejigu and Mamitu Daska. Both True and Huddle took home $12,500 for their performances ($7,500 for the win plus $5,000 for the American records) plus whatever bonus they get as part of their contracts with Saucony. And that number could grow even more shortly thanks to John Legere:

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Recap, analysis, video interviews and results below.

The Men’s Race:

Ben True on his way to the 13:22 American Record

Ben True on his way to the 13:22 American Record

The pace was quick from the beginning in the men’s race and as the leaders passed the two-mile mark on Hereford Street in 8:34, several men were still in contention including True, Sambu, Daniel Salel and Philip Langat. It was True and Sambu, who had been making the race, running shoulder-to-shoulder from the 2k mark onwards, and in the final mile, those two began to pull away from the field. Sambu, the more distance-oriented of the two (he has track PRs of 13:13 and 26:54 vs. 13:02 and 27:41 for True), began to ratchet up the pace in an effort to drop his rival. As the two made the final turn from Boylston Street onto Charles Street on Boston Common, Sambu had the inside track and a slight lead on True. True pulled even with Sambu with 150 to go, and with 100 left he gained a meter or two on Sambu, holding that edge as he raised his arms to cross the finish line and break the record.

The Women’s Race

Molly Huddle on Her Way to 14:50 Road 5k Record

Molly Huddle on Her Way to 14:50 Road 5k Record

The women’s race also went out quickly, but played out slightly differently. Ethiopian Mamitu Daska, who won last year’s B.A.A. 10K and Half Marathon and was second in the 5K, and Gelete Burka, who beat Shalane Flanagan in the Stanford 10,000 two weeks ago, had the lead at the mile at 4:38 with Huddle and several others well back of those two in the 4:40s range. The leaders slowed in the second mile as the pack reeled them in, with Huddle, Daska, Burka and others coming through between 9:36 and 9:40. As they ran past the marathon finish line on Boylston Street, Huddle focused on maintaining contact. After crossing Arlington Street and with the Boston Public Garden on her left, Huddle started to pick it up knowing that she had only 200 meters remaining once she made the turn onto Charles Street. Huddle, Ejigu and Daska were all together on the American flag-lined finishing straight but in the end it was Huddle who kicked best, motoring away to win in 14:50, just a second ahead of Ejigu.

Quick Take #1: True confirmed that he is in good shape after a rough stint at altitude

True spent the winter training in Boulder in preparation for the U.S. Cross Country Championships but struggled to adapt to altitude and was just 11th in that race. Without former training partner Sam Chelanga (now in James Li‘s group in Tucson), True didn’t know exactly where he stood fitness-wise, but today’s race confirmed that he is coming along just fine.

“I knew since last year this course was fast,” True said. “Last year, the time (13:26) surprised me. They said that this course this year is supposed to be a little bit faster than last year so I figured I might be able to run a little bit faster. It’s hard to tell this year, training by myself, what kind sort of fitness I’ve been in especially after a fairly dismal race at U.S. Cross, so this is a nice confirmation that I’m in the shape I need to be at this point in the year and looking forward to a good summer.”

Molly Huddle and Ben True Before their American Records

Molly Huddle and Ben True Before their American Records

Quick Take #2: The new course worked out great

The two fastest 5Ks on American soil — the Carlsbad 5000 and the B.A.A. 5K — both changed their courses this year. Carlsbad added a pair of 180-degree turns to make the race more spectator-friendly, while the B.A.A. removed two 90-degree turns and both the men’s and women’s records ended up going down in Boston. It’s hard to say whether one course is definitively faster (the weather in Boston — 50s and still — was perfect today and better than the warm, windy Carlsbad conditions this year) but True seemed to think that reducing the number of turns helped him run slightly faster this year which makes sense.

Quick Take #3: Marc Davis was happy to see his record go

Davis works as the B.A.A.’s communications manager and was present at the finish line to see his record go down. At Friday’s pre-race press conference, Davis mentioned that with the new course, the record could go down, but didn’t mention that he was the current record holder. Afterwards, he said he was happy for True:

“He was so close last year, “Davis said. “There was every opportunity for him to do it here today and he clearly went out there, proved we put together a great course for him and went out there and did his job. All the congrats to him. I almost lasted 20 years with it but I’m happy because as I always say, it’s a cliche, but records are made to be broken.”

Quick Take #4: Huddle didn’t come in with designs on the record but realized mid-race that it was a possibility 

“It was in the very back of my mind,” Huddle said. “I knew the course was very fast last year and when they made course improvements again this year, I thought you could run a record….At two miles, I did the math and realized even though I was in about fifth, sixth place, I was on American record pace so that kind of got me more momentum for the last mile.”

The race was incredibly fast overall as the second through seventh-place finishers all set all-time marks for place in a road 5K. No race had ever seen four women break 15:00.

The time bodes well for Huddle, as Genzebe Dibaba, who ran 14:18 indoors to set a new 5,000 world record, ran 14:48 in Carlsbad three weeks ago.

“It’s kind of like new territory for me,” Huddle said. “I think the world 5K record probably will get chipped away. I think this is a good place to do it. For me to be anywhere close to that takes a lot to wrap my mind around.”

Quick Take #5: Huddle’s focus is squarely on the 10,000 this year

Huddle said that she still plans on running a couple of 5,000s but that she will do the 10,000 at USAs and Worlds as she doesn’t feel that she runs well after prelims (the 5,000 has prelims at Worlds; the 10,000 does not). She also said she drew inspiration from Kara Goucher (2007 Worlds) and Shalane Flanagan (2008 Olympics), who both medalled in the 10,000 recently. No American woman has ever medalled in the 5,000 at Worlds or the Olympics; Huddle was 6th in the 5,000 at the 2013 Worlds.

“I was looking back at what we were successful with in the past and that gave me some confidence if those girls can do it than maybe I can do it too,” Huddle said.

Quick Take #6: Daska made the right decision

Daska, who eighth at World XC three weeks ago, was initially entered in the Boston Marathon but didn’t think her strength was there and switched down to the 5K instead. It looks like she made the right decision, as she was rewarded with a big pb (her previous best was 15:14 here last year).

Quick Take #6 Great day for Saucony
Saucony, based in nearby Lexington, Mass., sponsors both True and Huddle. Saucony is not one of the biggest running shoe brands, but they got both American records at their hometown race. Well done.

*Results below, photos here.

Molly Huddle and Ben True

Molly Huddle and Ben True

1) Ben True USA 13:22
2) Stephen Sambu KEN 13:23
3) Daniel Salel KEN 13:27
4) Philip Langat KEN 13:32
5) Girma Mecheso USA 13:42
6) Kevin Chelimo KEN 14:08
7) Brett Gotcher USA 14:20
8) James Leakos USA 14:25
9) Amos Sang USA 14:32
10) Eric Ashe USA 14:36
1) Molly Huddle USA 14:50
2) Sentayehu Ejigu ETH 14:51
3) Mamitu Daska ETH 14:52
4) Gelete Burka ETH 14:57
5) Buze Diriba ETH 15:00
6) Mary Wacera KEN 15:07
7) Cynthia Limo KEN 15:12
8) Monicah Wanjuhi KEN 15:47
9) Lineth Chepkurui KEN 15:58
10) Valentine Kibet KEN 16:02


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