Kim Smith winning the Boston Half Marathon (Victah Sailer / PhotoRun) © Copyright
Kiprono clocked 1:01:44 to set a new course record while Smith, who won in 1:10:57, came up just five seconds shy of the record set in 2010 by Caroline Rotich.
Sunny skies and a temperature of 51 F degrees at the start were the backdrop for the 12th edition of the race. The rain that was forecasted earlier in the week never fell and would not dampen the spirits of the record crowd of 5459 starters gathered in Boston’s Franklin Park on a beautiful autumn day in New England.
It was a day of firsts as a new event record was established: for the first time, the B.A.A. Half Marathon served as the culmination of the BAA Distance Medley, a three-race series which combines the BAA 5K in April, BAA 10K in June, and the BAA Half Marathon. In the BAA’s 125th Anniversary year, a grand prize of $100,000 would be awarded to the man and woman with the lowest cumulative gun time across all three races. With four men within five seconds of the overall lead coming into the race, the stage was set for a thrilling end to the inaugural Distance Medley.
Kiprono set the pace in the early miles, running in a pack that included Distance Medley competitors Lani Rutto (KEN), Sam Chelanga (KEN), and Ali Abdosh (ETH). Kiprono ran alone for much of the race.
As he passed nine miles in 41:39 and 15K in 43:09, Kiprono began looking over his shoulder. Behind him, he saw the familiar face of Rutto, his training partner, 13 seconds behind him. At mile 12 in the Franklin Park Zoo, Kiprono made a move, opening a gap of 18 seconds.
His large lead, however, was short-lived. With just 800 metres to go, Rutto was only six seconds behind. Despite his late charge, Rutto simply could not make up enough ground. As the leaders approached the finish line within White Stadium to the cheers of the crowd, the race clearly belonged to Kiprono who crossed the line in 1:01:44, with Rutto following in 1:01:55. Both times were better than the event record of 1:02:20 set in 2007 by Kenya’s Tom Nyariki.
Discussing his strategy, Kiprono said, "I was trying to see how the guys [would] run. I [started pushing the pace] very early." He admitted that leading the race was no easy task. "When you run [by] yourself, to maintain the pace while some guys follow you is not easy. The guys who follow you – they have a lot of morale."
The $100,000 prize will go a long way in Kenya where Kiprono lives and trains. "Maybe [I will] invest in Kenya and do some business," Kiprono said. [I will help] my parents and my little brothers, who are still in school. But first I will set a budget!"
Smith on cruise control
On the women’s side, New Zealand native and Providence, Rhode Island resident Kim Smith entered the Half Marathon with a 16-second lead over Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros on the Distance Medley leader board. After competing in the marathon at the London Olympic Games this summer, Smith had to make sure she balanced recovery and training in the buildup to the race.
Smith explained, "I had a week off [of training] after the Olympics and then slowly got back into [training]. I had to get back into training quicker than I usually do after a Marathon. But luckily my legs felt pretty good, so the training was going pretty well."
Keeping that in mind, Smith ran conservatively in the early miles. She ran with Kiros and Hellen Jemutai (KEN) through five miles in 28:05. Working together as they did in June’s 10K, Smith and Kiros ran side-by-side until about nine miles into the race. It was at that point that Smith began to pull away.
"I went out really, really conservatively," Smith said. "[Kiros and I] both were throwing in some surges after about half way. I think at about the nine-mile mark, I threw in one last surge and got away. I got a bit of a gap and then just kept it going." By mile 10, Smith built herself a 15-second lead over Kiros and never looked back. Pouring it on at the end, Kim Smith went on to win by nearly two minutes.
A 2005 graduate of Providence College and a resident of Providence, RI, Smith was a local favorite and was welcomed by cheers from the crowd in Franklin Park. "[Franklin Park] definitely feels like a home course for me," Smith said with a smile. "This was always my favorite Cross Country course in college. I think I heard some people on the course saying, 'Go Friars!’ I always like running in Boston, so coming here was a great end to the series." The race was a brilliant homecoming for Smith in her first race since the Olympics. Next up for Smith, who was recently married in September, is the ING New York City Marathon on 4 November. She said that she’ll honeymoon after that.
Michael Keebler (organisers) for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Allan Kiprono, KEN 1:01:44
2. Lani Rutto, KEN 1:01:55
3. Sam Chelanga, KEN 1:03:22
4. Ali Abdosh, ETH 1:03:51
1. Kim Smith, NZL 1:10:57
2. Aheza Kiros, ETH 1:12:50
3. Caroline Bjune, USA 1:20:47