Grøvdal, Kipchumba Take Victories At United Airlines NYC Half

Bekele and Clayton Young Struggle with Eyes on Bigger Prize

© Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

NEW YORK (17-Mar) — Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal and Kenya’s Abel Kipchumba won this morning’s hilly and chilly United Airlines NYC Half in 1:09:09 and 1:00:25, respectively.  Grøvdal, 33, a three-time European Athletics cross country champion, became the first European woman to win the race since Britain’s Mara Yamauchi in 2010.  Kipchumba, 30, last November’s B.A.A. Half-Marathon champion in Boston, was the race’s ninth Kenyan male champion over its 17-year history.  Both athletes won $20,000 in prize money.

WOMEN EASE INTO THE PACE

Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal winning the 2024 United Airlines NYC Half (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly) Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal winning the 2024 United Airlines NYC Half (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

The two dozen women in the elite field were in no hurry to establish a fast pace when the race set off from Prospect Park in Brooklyn just after sunrise.  Calli Thackery of Great Britain, recently named to her country’s Olympic Marathon team, was the early leader and a pack of seven went through the 5-K checkpoint in a gentle 17:07.  Grøvdal was in that pack along with Kenya’s Gladys Chepkurui, Edna Kiplagat and Cynthia Limo; the Netherlands’ Diane Van Es; and Switzerland’s Fabienne Schlumpf.  The two top Americans, Des Linden and Jenny Simpson, were five seconds back.

The next five kilometers would be critical.  As the leaders ascended the Manhattan Bridge to cross the East River, the pace became too difficult for Thackery, Van Es and Schlumpf who all slid back.  At the 10-K mark on the Manhattan side (33:26) the race was down to four: Grøvdal, Chepkurui, Kiplagat, and Limo.

Limo, the reigning Honolulu Marathon champion, was next to lose contact after Chepkurui pushed the pace up the FDR Drive along the East River. By 15-K, Limo was nearly 20 seconds behind and would finish a distant fourth in 1:11:54.

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Grøvdal Comes Back

But Grøvdal was also hurting.  In the tenth mile (17th kilometer) as the race went up Seventh Avenue past Times Square, Grøvdal began to lose contact with Chepkurui and Kiplagat.  It looked like she would finish third for the third year in a row.

“I was so tired then,” Grøvdal told reporters.  “Just thinking, it’s third this year also.  But then, I don’t know.  I just tried to don’t get the gap too big.  Suddenly, I was just behind them again.”

The final seven kilometers of this race are particularly tough.  The race climbs about 30 meters from 15-K to the finish, and the finish straight itself is uphill.  Grøvdal knew the course well and was ready.

“Then something in me just, OK, now it’s the finish,” Grøvdal explained.  “It’s 3-K left, so I was planning to have a strong finish the last 2-K and I did that.”  She added: “I just went for it.”

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By the 20-K mark in Central Park (1:05:45), Grøvdal had six seconds on Chepkurui and 22 seconds on the 44-year-old Kiplagat, twice the world marathon champion.  Kiplagat would finish third in 1:09:46, and Chepkurui had to settle for second in 1:09:27.  Grøvdal got to enjoy her final run up to the finish tape and waved to the crowd as she ran.

“It’s up there,” Grøvdal said when asked how today’s victory compared with the other important wins in her long international career which began when she was just 15 years old.  “I have three European golds.  They are big, but I think this is right around that one.”

Simpson, who failed to finish the USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon last month in Orlando, was the top American in sixth place in 1:12:06.  She said that today’s race broke her bad mood about not finishing in Orlando and gave her confidence as she continued her training for next month’s Boston Marathon.

“I’ve just been so down on myself the last few weeks; it’s just been really hard,” Simpson said.  “I think today was the perfect example, like, I just kind of like, I love New York, I love racing, I’m just going to go and have a really hard long run.  When I got into the last 5-K I thought, man, I feel really good!  So, it was like a glorified long run with a 5-K race at the end.”

Simpson ran much of the race with 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden, who was the second American (ninth overall) today in 1:12:39.  Like Simpson, Linden is also running Boston.

Top Women’s Results 2024 NYC Half

*More results here

Place Runner Country Finishing Time
1 Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal Norway 1:09:09
2 Gladys Chepkurui Kenya 1:09:27
3 Edna Kiplagat Kenya 1:09:46
4 Cynthia Limo Kenya 1:11:54
5 Diane van Es Netherlands 1:12:03
6 Jenny Simpson United States 1:12:06
7 Calli Thackery United States 1:12:09
8 Fabienne Schlumpf Switzerland 1:12:21
9 Des Linden United States 1:12:39
10 Jacqueline Gaughan Ireland 1:12:47

KIPCHUMBA BATTLES WITH TALBI

The 2024 United Airlines NYC Half champions, Abel Kipchumba of Kenya and Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly) The 2024 United Airlines NYC Half champions, Abel Kipchumba of Kenya and Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

The men’s race began much more aggressively than the women’s.  By the 5-K mark (14:23) Kipchumba and Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi had already reduced the lead pack to four.  Along for the ride were two Olympic steeplechasers, American Hillary Bor and Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie.  The four stayed together through 10-K (28:38), but then Kipchumba and Talbi began to trade surges.  That kind of racing was too punishing for Haileselassie, who drifted off the pace.  Bor, running in just his first half-marathon, hung on.

“I wanted a fast race and I think the same for him,” said Talbi, who is observing Ramadan and had to fast in the days leading up to today’s race.  “He (Kipchumba) wanted to push… so both of us keep pushing from the start.  I pushed until the end, basically.”

By 15-K (42:54) Bor was 12 seconds back and Haileselassie was 32 seconds in arrears.  It would be either the Kenyan or the Moroccan who would take the victory today.  Kipchumba was determined and recognized Talbi as a formidable opponent.

“Today was not easy,” Kipchumba told Race Results Weekly.  “The guy was strong.”

Kipchumba finally shook off Talbi in the race’s final stages, leading by 10 seconds at 20-K (57:18) and, ultimately, 17 seconds at the finish.  His time of 1:00:25 was the fastest since 2017 when the race was held on a different –and much easier– course from Central Park to lower Manhattan.

“I tried my best; I won the race,” Kipchumba said.  “(With) three kilometers remaining I said it’s time to win.”

Talbi was second in 1:00:41, and Haileselassie passed Bor in the final kilometer to take third in 1:01:37 to Bor’s 1:01:47.  Another American, Reed Fischer, rounded out the top 5 in 1:03:06.

Top Men’s Results 2024 NYC Half

*More results here

Place Runner Name Country Finishing Time
1 Abel Kipchumba Kenya 1:00:25
2 Zouhair Talbi Morocco 1:00:41
3 Yemane Haileselassie Ethiopia 1:01:37
4 Hillary Bor Kenya 1:01:47
5 Reed Fischer United States 1:03:06
6 Tristan Woodfine Australia 1:03:50
7 Kenenisa Bekele Ethiopia 1:03:59
8 Matthew Baxter United Kingdom 1:04:12
9 Zerei Kbrom Eritrea 1:04:31
10 Tomonori Yamaguchi Japan 1:04:36
13 Clayton Young United States 1:05:35

Hillary Bor top American in his debut in 1:01:47

(this section written by LetsRun.com)

Bor, the American 10-mile record holder who won three straight USATF steeplechase finals before missing last year’s championships with a broken foot, made his half marathon debut and finished fourth in 1:01:47 after being in the top 3 for most of the race.

We were not able to talk to him after the race.

Olympian Clayton Young struggles

(this section written by LetsRun.com)

This was Clayton Young’s first race since he finished 2nd at the US Olympic Marathon Trials on February 3. The results was a very modest 1:05:35 13th-place performance. Young said, “I experienced out there a big slice of humble pie to get me in the right mindset for Paris.” His Achilles has been bugging him a bit coming in and Young’s main focus was thinking long-term for Paris.

Young said the big difference on the course now that he’s an Olympian is that tons of fans were cheering for him during the race. As for his training partner Conner Mantz, who missed this race with a minor setback, Clayton said, “He’s surprisingly in a better headspace than I imagined. I always say he’s a pessimist by nature, but he’s an optimist by practice. And so he’s very optimistic about his build going into Paris. And, in a way I think it’s God’s way of saying, we don’t need you fit now. We don’t need you winning the New York Half, we need you toeing the line in Paris.”

Bekele Struggled But Is Focused on London Marathon and Making One Final Ethiopian Olympic Team

(this section written by LetsRun.com)

The biggest name in the race was Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and he was never a factor as he hit 5k in 14:57 and 10k in 30:03 and finished in 7th place in 1:03:59. Afterwards, he told the media he had some stomach problem and we saw him gesturing to his agent as well about some chest issue.  He said, “Really my big goal is success in London, but it’s also important to see how my shape is going on. I think I need more preparation… Since last night my stomach’s not really well. So, it was tough to breathe, you know.”

Bekele’s last race was his 2:04:19 4th place finish in the Valencia Marathon. All his attention is set on next month’s London Marathon where he needs to place well to have a shot at the Ethiopian Olympic team. The three-time Olympic champion is now 41 and hasn’t competed in the Olympics since 2012, but he thinks he has a decent shot to make one final Olympic team.

“Maybe my chances are 50/50, so, I have to try my best…Place is very important [in London]. Not only time. But the position is really important in London.” When asked if he’d be ready in time for London, Bekele said, “I think so, yes. I have a couple of weeks to prepare.”

MB: Is the Goat done? Bekele 7th at NYC Half, 01:03:59

(More post-race interviews at bottom of article)

WHEELCHAIR RACES WERE RUNAWAY AFFAIRS

Both wheelchair champions, American Susannah Scaroni and Dutchman Geert Schipper, cruised to victory.  Scaroni, who also won last year, was clocked in 53:50, nearly five minutes ahead of compatriot Tatyana McFadden (58:42).  Schipper’s time of 48:43 was more than three minutes ahead of second place Evan Correll (52:06).

“I’m still shocked,” Scaroni told Race Results Weekly, still sitting in her black carbon Honda racing chair.  “It was a great day.  I tried to give it everything I had.”

Grøvdal Compares This to Winning European Championships

Alfred Kipchumba after completing the Boston, NYC Half Double

Jenny Simpson has put Olympic Trials disappointment behind her as she prepares for Boston

Talbi after 2nd Place Finish during Ramadan

Edna Kiplagat 3rd Place at Age 44 (and a PR at Houston Half in January)

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