By David Monti, @d9monti with additional on-site reporting by LetsRun’s Steve Soprano
July 4, 2019
(c) 2019 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
Spurred on by the chance to pocket $50,000 course record bonuses, Kenyans Brigid Kosgei and Rhonex Kipruto broke the women’s and men’s course records, respectively, at today’s 50th AJC Peachtree Road Race 10-K in Atlanta. Kosgei, the reigning Chicago and London Marathons champion, clocked 30:22, ten seconds under Lornah Kiplagat’s 2002 record of 30:32. Kipruto, the reigning world U20 10,000m champion, ran 27:01, just three seconds under the late Joseph Kimani’s 1996 standard of 27:04. Both athletes were also awarded $8,000 as race champions.
Kosgei had to fight for her victory right to the line. She was one of four women in contention at the four-mile mark (19:36), all Kenyans: Fancy Chemutai, Agnes Tirop, Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, and Kosgei. The quartet was still together through 5 miles (24:44), and appeared to be too far behind the course record pace to achieve the bonus.
“I think the race for the record is gone on the women’s side but we have an outstanding race,” said commentator Craig Masback on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast.
Tirop was the first to be dropped when Kosgei accelerated with 26 minutes and 45 seconds on the race clock. Looking back a few times, she continued to press the pace and appeared to break away to try for the record alone.
Kosgei Battles Back for Win and Record
But less than two minutes later, Kosgei appeared to have blown up. Chemutai, the winner of the B.A.A. 10-K nearly two weeks ago, passed Kosgei. Seconds later, Tirop also passed her.
Gritting her teeth and clearly in pain, Kosgei found some extra energy and rejoined the fight. Using the downhill section of the course before the finish, she upped her pace and as the finish line came into view, she and Tirop were shoulder to shoulder and running all-out. Kosgei angled to the right just before the tape, causing Tirop to cut left behind her, losing a step. At the line Kosgei had a step on Tirop, but both women were given the same time of 30:22. Chemutai ended up third in 30:32.
Kipruto mostly raced the clock today. He passed through the one-mile mark in 4:21 (pacemaker Brandon Lasater had already dropped out), and by two miles (8:25) only his younger brother, Bravin Kipkogei Kiptoo, was able to stay with him. Kipruto blasted through the 5-K in 13:12, and four miles in 17:19. His 5-mile split was about 21:50, which put him slightly behind course record pace.
But like Kosgei, Kipruto took full advantage of the final downhill section into Piedmont Park. Sprinting full-out to the line with his unique toes-out running style, he got the record.
“Wow, this guy is a sensation,” said Masback.
Kipruto’s brother got second in 27:31 and Kennedy Kimutai, another Kenyan, finished third in 27:56.
The top Americans on the day were Colin Bennie on the men’s side in 29:10 (8th place) and Emily Sisson on the women’s side in 32:03 (7th place).
About 60,000 runners entered the race today, which was founded by the Atlanta Track Club in 1970 when only 122 athletes finished. It is now the world’s largest fully-scored 10-K.
Top 30 Women’s Results:
Top 20 Men’s Results:
Quick Thought: Kosgei had to really work for the win and the record bonus
Someone just browsing headlines today might assume that the women’s course record going down was a foregone conclusion. Considering the Kosgei broke it by 10 seconds, the $50,000 bonus on the line, the incredible field with three of the six fastest women of all time, and the fact that all four course records (men’s, women’s, and both wheelchair) were broken, the story writes itself pretty neatly. But it wasn’t a sure thing at all for Kosgei, who had to battle the clock as well as her competitors to get it done.
When they hit 5 miles they were only on pace for a 30:44 and Kosgei was really straining trying to make up for lost time. It’s a fine line, pushing the pace without ending up the sacrificial lamb for your competitors, but she took advantage of the downhill at the end and managed to close her final 1.2 miles in 4:38 pace. An amazing finish to maintain her unbeaten streak, which began at last year’s Chicago Marathon and has now extended to six races.
Post-race, Kosgei talked about the close battle and said, “It’s tough because I was seeing Fancy and Tirop, they wouldn’t let me [go]. …I move a bit, they were not leaving me. I move a bit, they were not leaving me.” She said she just tried to relax until 100m to go and then “ran her own race” and “struggled up to her maximum.”
Quick Thought: A crazy finish
Kosgei was definitely pushed to the limit by Tirop and was doing some weaving as she neared the finish line. As shown in the video below (jump to the 7:29 mark), at the last second she cut right in front of Tirop, forcing Tirop to move left to try to go around. Based on her demeanor at the finish line and post-race interview, Tirop didn’t seem to feel she was impeded and no DQ was issued.
Quick Thought: Kipruto has some guts
It’s not easy to run a fast time in sweltering heat and humidity. It’s also not easy to run fast when you’re running a solo effort. Kipruto did both. The rabbit on the men’s side was essentially inconsequential as he had already fallen off before the first mile, and while Kipruto’s brother gave him some company for a while, it was Kipruto who led every step of the way.
Post-race he talked about the conditions saying, “The race was nice, but the weather was not good because the humidity was very high.” He said that he wasn’t sure if he could get the record, but that running under 27 minutes last month (26:50.16 at the Stockholm Diamond League on May 30) made him confident he could run inside 27:20. It’s also worth noting that Kipruto now has the fastest 10k run on US soil on both record-eligible and record-ineligible courses. He already had the official US soil record at 27:08 from last year’s Healthy Kidney 10k, but now his 27:01 is the fastest overall. He said he’s going to use the $50,000 record bonus to help his parents back in Kenya.
Quick Thought: Bravin Kiptoo was more excited about his brother’s race than his own
Kipruto might have had to lead wire-to-wire, but he didn’t have to run completely alone as he had company from his brother, Bravin Kiptoo, until a little after the halfway point. Talking after the race Kiptoo said, “Before we started I said to my coach, ‘I will not leave alone my brother.’ When we were around 2k, [Rhonex] started pushing the pace, but I put in my mind, ‘I will not leave my brother.'”
While his older brother eventually did leave him, the brotherly bond was apparent once again at the finish. Coming into the finish, Kiptoo ran down the final straight celebrating with his arms in the air and he had a huge hug for his brother at the finish line. But Kiptoo wasn’t celebrating his own race; he said he was celebrating that Kipruto broke the record. That celebration got him some scolding later though as Kipruto told local media, “I saw he was celebrating, and yet he needs to [go] for the time. … He needs to finish the race faster and then he can celebrate.”
Quick Thought: Agnes Tirop was happy with her second-place finish
Quick Take: Emily Sisson gets rust buster for USAs with 7th-place, 32:03 finish
This was a solid day for Emily Sisson, who was running her first race since her 2:23:08 marathon debut in London. She said that she has come off London pretty well but felt “rusty” and knew she needed to get a hard effort in before USAs, where she wants to make the 10,000 team for Doha. And assuming that goes according to plan, she said she won’t be racing a fall marathon ahead of the US Olympic Marathon Trials, which are back here in Atlanta in February. She added that besides being a rust buster, running Peachtree also gives her a chance to preview the Trials course, which she will check out tomorrow.
Quick Thought: Kellyn Taylor finishes as second American in 9th place (32:37)
Taylor said she “took a lot of positives” out of the race coming off a marathon a couple months ago (2:26:27 in Prague) and was “not displeased” with the result. Looking ahead, she’s doing both the 5,000 and 10,000 at USAs at the end of the month and already has a fall marathon lined up (although she couldn’t reveal which).
Like Sisson, Taylor also came to Atlanta with the 2020 Marathon Trials on her mind. Talking about previewing the course tomorrow she said, “Hopefully I’ll be able to prepare better [after seeing the course]. My coach is here, Ben [Rosario], and I just think that’s going to be really vital with the training we put in leading up to the Trials. I mean, I know that it’s hilly, but you don’t really know what it is until you actually get to experience it. So I think it’ll be really important to see.”
Quick Thought: Colin Bennie is the top American man in 8th place (29:10)
Bennie, a former All-American for Syracuse who helped them win the 2015 NCAA XC Championships, said the heat was tough, but training has been going well and he was “really happy” with the result. He plans on continuing to race on the roads this summer with Beach to Beacon and Falmouth and is also qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials via the 62:46 he ran at the Houston Half in January. He said he’s not decided on whether or not he’ll run a fall marathon or make the Trials his debut.
Quick Thought: Masters victories to two US Olympians
Abdi Abdirahman was 15th overall (30:00) and Jen Rhines was 28th in the women’s race (35:53) to take the top masters honors.
Quick Thought: Meet Bill Thorn, the 89-year-old who has finished every one of the 50 Peachtree Road Races
Thorn finished today’s race in 2:17:58, but says his best time was under 40 minutes in the late 1970s. He got some of the biggest cheers of the day at the finish line and here he talks about the experience and shares some anecdotes from his 50 years at Peachtree.
Note: The Atlanta Track Club paid for Steve Soprano’s expenses to go to Atlanta to cover the race but they had no say in his coverage.