Kenyan Micah Kogo used his Olympic track speed to wear down a talented men’s field and Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia cruised to victory on the women’s side in the 14th edition of the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race on Saturday (6) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Kogo (27:48), who won bronze at 10,000m in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, pushed the pace at the outset in record-setting fashion, pulled away at Mile 4 and then hung on as the heat took a toll, preserving the course record of 27:28. Lucas Rotich (27:56) of Kenya took second while Kenyan Ed Muge (27:59), the 2008 and 2009 Beach to Beacon champion, finished strong to take third. Patrick Smyth, 25, of Salt Lake City, was the first American at 28:39, good enough for ninth place.
Kogo, 21, led an eight-man lead pack that recorded the fastest-ever two-mile split – 8:47 – in race history. They crossed the 5K mark at 13:37, again on pace for a new course record. Kogo had already recorded a 27:15 earlier this year and once held the 10Km World record (27:01), so the anticipation built as he and Rotich, 21, ran shoulder-to-shoulder after returning to Route 77 from Old Ocean House Road, with Allan Kiprono, 21, and Lani Rutto, 22, both of Kenya, still in the hunt. Kogo made a move on Rotich before turning onto Shore Road, stretching the lead but falling off the record pace. Rotich, a 5,000m specialist, could not to reel him in, while Muge, who has never finished out of the top five in his four years in the race, and Hosea Mwok-Macharinyang, 25, of Kenya (28:00), charged hard at the end in tough conditions to finish 3-4. Kiprono (28:12), the 2010 runner up, took fifth and Rutto (28:34) sixth.
On the women’s side, 25-year-old Aheza Kiros (32:09), a race favorite, did not disappoint and became the first Ethiopian woman to win the women’s title. Jelliah Tinega, 25, of Kenya, was awarded second place and Buzunesh Deba, 23, of Ethiopia, third after they finished with identical times of 32:35.5. The first American finisher was Sara Slattery, 29, of Boulder, Colo., who took sixth (33:36).
Kiros, Tinega and Deba formed a tight lead pack over the first two miles before Deba fell off the pace, leaving Kiros and Tinega to trade lead positions until Mile 3, when Kiros pulled away and never looked back, winning by almost half a minute. Kiros was seeking redemption after being disappointed by a fourth-place finish in her first TD Bank Beach to Beacon in 2009. Diane Nukuri Johnson, 26, of Burundi, finished a strong fourth (32:44), well ahead of fifth-place finisher Benita Willis, 32, of Australia (33:15). The women were well off the course record of 30:59, set by Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya in 2010.
American Marathon record holder and 2004 Olympic medallist Deena Kastor, 38, did not race after becoming ill on Friday in Maine. She is returning to competitive racing after having a baby in February and had targeted the race as a test of her conditioning. She also was looking forward to competing for the first time in the race founded by her idol Joan Benoit Samuelson. Catherine Ndereba, 39, a two-time Olympic silver medallist from Kenya and five-time Beach to Beacon champ, finished 11th (34:30).
“Micah and Lucas went out fast and teased us with a course-record pace, but the conditions caught up with them,” said Elite Athlete Coordinator Larry Barthlow. “On a different day, that record falls, but they still put on a good show. And Aheza just dominated, which was nice to see for her.”
The winners were among the record-setting 5,876 runners from 12 countries, 43 states and more than 200 Maine cities and town who finished the winding, picturesque 6.2-mile course on a sunny, warm and humid morning on the Maine coast. Thousands of spectators lined the course and filled bleachers at the finish to cheer the runners.
In all, prize money of more than $60,000 was awarded to the runners, including $10,000 for the overall male and female winners, $5,000 for the second place winners and cash prizes for the top 10 finishers and in the different categories. The Maine Resident winners received $1,000.
Organizers for the IAAF