RRW: Five Storylines For Sunday’s B.A.A. 10K: Geoffrey Mutai Vs Stephen Sambu Rematch Highlgihts Men’s Race

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
June 19, 2015

BOSTON — On Sunday, the fifth annual B.A.A. 10-K will take center stage in Boston, with runners racing through the city’s Back Bay neighborhood on a lightning-fast course designed for quick times and pure competition. Ahead of the race, which last year produced a world leading men’s time and world best for 8-K, Race Results Weekly breaks down five storylines to watch out for. Race Results Weekly will be on hand to provide coverage from the event.

BATTLE ROYALE: Only two men have claimed wins at the B.A.A. 10-K: Kenyans Geoffrey Mutai and Stephen Sambu. Mutai, 33, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion and event record holder, won the inaugural edition in 27:19, a time that still stands as the event best. A year later in 2012 he returned to break the tape first in 27:29.

Sambu began a streak of his own in 2013 when he defeated Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa to claim the crown in 28:06. Last year, Sambu and Mutai toed the line next to one another and battled valiantly through Back Bay, with Sambu leading at 8-K in a world best time of 22:01.03, .07 of a second ahead of Mutai (the Association of Road Racing Statisticians credited both men with world record times). By the finish, Sambu’s lead had grown to 10 seconds, crossing the stripe in a world leading time of 27:25.

On Sunday, they will go head-to-head once again. When they last raced one another (at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K on May 30 in New York City), Sambu topped Mutai by one place, finishing second in 28:13 to Mutai’s 28:20. Will Sambu again have the edge here?

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The 10-K seems to be Sambu’s favorite distance, having excelled in the event over the past three years.

Yet it should be noted that Mutai ran the Zwolse Half-Marathon just last week in The Netherlands, taking third behind Richard Kiprop Mengich and Wilson Kipsang in 1:01:59. Racing the long distance there and then traveling 3,500 miles west to Boston, Mutai’s legs may not be as fresh as Sambu’s.

While Sambu and Mutai head the field, Kenyan compatriot Daniel Salel should not be forgotten. He finished third at the 2013 and 2014 B.A.A. 10-K, as well as at April’s B.A.A. 5-K.

MARATHON ACES SQUARE OFF: Leading the women’s field are a pair of marathon aces: Caroline Kilel and Edna Kiplagat. Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion, returns to try and pick up her second B.A.A. 10-K title, having won the inaugural race in 2011. Kiplagat, fresh off a third place finish at the Oakley New York Mini 10-K last weekend, seeks her first victory in Massachusetts since winning the 2007 B.A.A. Half-Marathon.

While both are marathoners, they have shown prowess over the shorter distance. Kiplagat hung with Mary Keitany for 3 kilometers at last weekend’s race in New York City, then battled among a pack to run a time of 32:39. Kilel has raced once since finishing sixth at the Boston Marathon in April, a fourth place showing at the Morrisons Great Manchester Run 10K in 32:18.

Mary Wacera, the 2014 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships silver medalist, and two-time Olympian Diane Nukuri of Burundi will also contend for the win.

HOMETOWN ADVANTAGE: American Jen Rhines, 40, has quietly had a phenomenal year so far in 2015. She finished third at the USA Cross Country Championships, qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Qingzhen, China; there she’d go on to place 51st.

On the roads Rhines has battled with her younger American competition, taking sixth at the Gate River Run 15-K in Jacksonville (also the USA 15-K Championships), and winning the Gasparilla Half-Marathon in 1:12:35. At the USA Masters Half-Marathon Championships (held in conjunction with the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half-Marathon) on May 31, she timed 1:16:33 for the masters victory.

Rhines finished as the first American here in 2014, placing eighth. She should be the top American once again this year. An added advantage for Rhines is that she is very familiar with the race course. Rhines and her husband, B.A.A. High Performance coach Terrence Mahon, live in Boston.

Also entered from the USA are Heather Cappello and Kristen Zaitz.

COLLEGE GRADS TAKE ON THE ROADS: Recent college graduates Parker Stinson (University of Oregon) and Elvin Kibet (University of Arizona) will be racing here after having earned their degrees this spring. Both have had solid seasons, and look to continue their progression in Boston.

Stinson isn’t new to the road racing scene. Without any NCAA Cross Country eligibility remaining last fall, he raced the .US 12-K Championships in Virginia, finishing sixth in 34:19. After completing his career as a Duck with third and ninth place showings at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships over 5000m and 3000m, Stinson turned his attention to the outdoor oval. He ran 27:54.98 for 10,000m at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

Kibet comes from a long lineage of road racing prowess, the sister of both Silvia and Hilda Kibet. Silvia was a silver medalist over 5000m at the 2009 IAAF World Championships, while Hilda took gold at the 2008 European Cross Country Championships (she represents the Netherlands now). Just last week Elvin placed 13th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships 10,000m, crossing the line in 34:12.57. Coached by James Li, Kibet has run to personal bests of 15:36.08 for 5000m and 32:40.22 for 10,000m. Small, but a fiery competitor, the B.A.A. 10-K could be just the start of a long road racing career for Kibet.

For what it’s worth, the last high profile collegian to debut at the B.A.A. 10-K was Sam Chelanga.

RECORDS, PRIZE MONEY, AND MORE: The B.A.A. 10-K course is a flat, fast route that has four long straightaways of at least a mile in length, a course prime for record chasing. This year’s route is ever so slightly different than past years, with participants heading south from the start on Charles Street between the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common instead of north. They will head right on Boylston Street, make a quick turn onto Arlington Street, then left for the long straight shot on Commonwealth Avenue.

Mutai holds the men’s event record at 27:19, while last year’s winner Mamitu Daska owns the women’s mark at 31:04. Daska had originally hoped to compete and return to defend her title, but will not be racing this year (she ran the Ethiopian Trials 10,000m for the World Championships in Hengelo earlier this week).

A prize purse of $48,500 is offered at the B.A.A. 10-K, with $10,000 going to both the men’s and women’s winner. Should they set an event record, a bonus of $7,500 will be added to their champion’s checks.

The B.A.A. 10-K field size is set at 10,000 entrants, and spaces still remain for those wanting to race. Accompanying the B.A.A. 10-K are youth races, which are free and open to the public.

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