By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
NEW YORK (09-Jun) — Mary Keitany continued her reign as the queen of Central Park with a dominating victory at the NYRR New York Mini 10K here this morning. The 36-year-old Kenyan cruised to her second straight title (and third overall) in the all-women’s race, clocking 30:59 and winning by more than a minute on a spectacular morning with comfortable temperatures (68F/20C) and relatively low humidity. Combined with her three wins in the TCS New York City Marathon, which finishes over the same climb through the park as today’s event, Keitany has earned a formidable reputation in the Big Apple.
The 47th edition of “The Mini,” the oldest all-women’s road race in the world, got off to a relatively conservative start, with Molly Huddle of Providence, R.I., and Eva Vrabcova of the Czech Republic leading a tight pack of 18 runners up Central Park West and through the first mile in a cautious 5:19. As they entered the park at 90th Street, 10 women were still in contention, but Keitany subtly increased the tempo, with Huddle and fellow American Aliphine Tuliamuk of Flagstaff, Ariz., on her shoulder.
Just past 2 miles (10:26) Keitany began to pull away from a chase pack of four runners: Tuliamuk, Huddle, Kenyan Betsy Saina (winner the Paris Marathon in April) and Ethiopian steeplechase specialist Birtukan Fente. Only Tuliamuk could maintain contact as Keitany attacked the hills over the northernmost portion of the park. The Kenyan passed 3 miles in 15:18 and 5-K in 15:52, two seconds ahead of Tuliamuk. Keitany briefly motioned to her rival to come share the lead, but Tuliamuk could not match the pace.
“I wanted her to join me so we could push together,” Keitany said after the race.
On a mostly uphill stretch approaching 6-K it was clear that Keitany was not going to be challenged. She led by more than 15 seconds at 4 miles (20:22) and the turned on the jets as the roadway turned downhill towards Central Park’s famed Boathouse restaurant. That helped her clock a blazing 4:44 fifth mile, splitting 24:57 for 8-K and 25:06 at 5 miles. She was not letting up.
“I tried for a long time, as long as I could to stay in touch in with Mary,” Tuliamuk said. “We went over a hill and then she went around a corner and I couldn’t see her after that.”
With fans and recreational joggers in the park enthusiastically chanting “Go, Mary!” Keitany refused to back off, coming through 6 miles in 29:57 (a 4:51 split) before attacking the final climb towards the finish. Despite running uphill, she ran the last 800 meters in 2:26 to just sneak under 31-minutes.
Keitany recorded the fifth-best time in event history, and she covered the uphill second half in an incredible 15:08.
“At the beginning we were slow and so I started to push from 3 miles, because I wanted to see what time I could do,” said the winner, who had a disappointing fourth-place finish in April’s London Marathon. “I’ve been training well since London, and I really wanted to make up for that here in New York.”
Tuliamuk (32:08), running solo for the second half of the race, held her position, while Huddle (32:25) finally pulled away from Saina (32:33) in the final 200 meters for third place. Fente (32:46) followed in fifth, pulling away from American Diane Nukuri (32:49). Des Linden, who made history in April by becoming the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years, finished well back in 14th (35:12). She had been nursing a tight back.
“I wanted to stay in contact with the leaders as long as I could,” said the Kenyan-born Tuliamuk, an 11-time NCAA All-American at Wichita State and U.S. citizen since 2016. “But then the race unfolded completely different than what I was expecting. I was thinking maybe I was going to have company for a long time and I ended up being in a no-man’s zone at about 3 and a half miles and that was really hard.”
Like Keitany, Huddle was coming back from a disappointing April marathon. The 26-time national champion struggled in Boston’s frigid downpour, finishing 13th on that miserable day. “Today was a grind,” she admitted. “I’m just not fit yet. It was a good step towards getting back. I did notice that I was a bit slow on the downhills, so maybe my legs are a bit stiff [from Boston]. But I think I just need to get more workouts.” She is considering going for her fourth straight title in the 10,000 the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, in two weeks.
Keitany earned US $10,000 for the victory, part of a $37,650 prize purse offered by New York Road Runners. “I really love this city,” she said after finishing on the podium for the ninth straight time in NYRR races since 2010. “I love the atmosphere. When I come to Central Park for training everyone is friendly and I meet a lot of people.”
A professional wheelchair division was included for the first time, and Susannah Scaroni of the U.S. won in 22:48, well clear of countrywoman Tatyana McFadden (23:34). That is believed to be the fastest-ever road 10K by a woman wheelchair athlete (IPC/World Para Athletics does not keep 10-kilometer road racing records).
Today’s race had 8367 finishers, making it the third consecutive year that the event had over 8300 finishers.