Kenya’s Abel Kipchumba (61:32) And Ethiopia’s Fotyen Tesfay (68:46) Win Frosty BAA Half-Marathon; Keira D’Amato 4thBy David Monti , @d9monti
BOSTON — Fighting off both bone-chilling cold and tough competition, Abel Kipchumba of Kenya and Fotyen Tesfay of Ethiopia won today’s 21st edition of the B.A.A. Half-Marathon here this morning, each pocketing $12,000 in prize money. Kipchumba, who dropped out of the Berlin Marathon in September after passing the 30-K mark, ran away from the field here today, clocking 1:01:32 and enjoying a 24-second cushion over second place Pat Tiernan of Australia. Tesfay, who won the AJC Peachtree Road Race 10-K last July, broke free from a group of 12 women at the 15-K mark to win in 1:08:46, 14 seconds ahead of compatriot Senbere Teferi.
WOMEN IN NO HURRY
Like at last Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon, the elite women were in no hurry go to get to the finish. The first mile, despite being downhill, went by in a leisurely 5 minutes and 50 seconds. The women ran close together and were clearly more concerned about keeping warm and easing into the race. American Keira D’Amato, the national half-marathon record holder, wore a pale green jacket over her Nike kit and was in no rush to take it off.
“I think it was around five or six (miles) I took my first layer off, then I had arm sleeves,” D’Amato told Race Results Weekly. “I took those off at like eight, and then I threw my headband at around mile 11.”
The 5-K point was passed in 17:18, and Tesfay stayed tucked in the pack content to let Kenya’s Fancy Chemutai and Rosemary Wanjiru and Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi do the leading. She remained tucked-in through 10-K (33:09), and the pace remained modest.
“We stayed together for a while,” Tesfay said through a translator after the race. “The closer we got to the finish, (I knew) I have to move on, which I did.”
A dozen women entered the final loop from 15-K to the finish on the track in historic White Stadium in Franklin Park, but it was Tesfay who emerged with the lead and entered the stadium alone where a small crowd cheered her on.
“When I got to the stadium I was the only one so I knew I was going to win,” Tesfay said. She ran purposefully to the tape and and raised her arms as she finished. Senbere crossed next in 1:09:00 followed by another Ethiopian, Tsigie Gebreselama, who clocked 1:09:06. D’Amato, who had also thrown off her gloves in that final loop, finished fourth in 1:09:12.
“I just wanted to put myself in it and just finish as hard as I could,” said D’Amato who also finished fourth at last Saturday’s Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5-K in New York City. She continued: “At the end I was hoping to maybe be top three. So, I’m getting all the fourths out of the way. I was like, fourth again? Pretend this is the Trials and dig, dig dig. I figure if I get these out of the way I’m due for a top three at some point, hopefully at the Trials.”
Mestawut Fikir, also of Ethiopia, rounded out the top-5 in 1:09:17.
KIPCHUMBA GOES IT ALONE
Unlike Tesfay, Kipchumba was in no mood to hang around with his rivals today. From about the 5-kilometer point, he left the field behind and was never seriously challenged. He was motivated, he said, by a year of injury rehabilitation caused by a complex leg injury followed by his unexpected DNF at Berlin where he had trouble breathing.
“From starting I stay in front,” he told Race Results Weekly, bundled in a huge parka. “Early, before 10-K, from 5-K.” He added: “Today I’m happy I won. Today is a great day for me.”
Tiernan took a more cautious approach. In his recent training he had done several long runs and felt comfortable running alone if he had to.
“I was leading the second chase group from about four miles on,” said the tall Australian, who won the NCAA cross country title for Villanova in 2016. “I’d say probably about eight or nine miles we started catching them, second and third (place). Right around mile 10 I started to break away from the rest of them. I could see the leader in front of me; that kind of got me motivated to get going.”
Tiernan built a comfortable lead on a three-man chase group of Yemane Haileselassie and Filmon Ande of Eritrea and Geoffrey Koech of Kenya. They never threatened him as they approached the stadium, and Tiernan was a comfortable second in 1:01:56. In the end, Haileselassie prevailed over Ande and Koech, clocking 1:02:17 for third. Ande got fourth in 1:02:22 and Koech was fifth in 1:02:32. Canada’s Tristan Woodfine was the first North American finisher in sixth in 1:02:40, followed by Sam Chelanga of Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1:02:49.
Kipchumba wanted people to know that his DNF in Berlin did not reflect his commitment to the sport or his current level of fitness. Today’s race showed that he’s a player, he said.
“I want to show people that I managed to come back again because I love athletics,” he said.
Over 6000 runners completed today’s race, taking in the beautiful fall foliage along the course. Over $700,000 was raised for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.