Kim Smith approaches the line in 1:07:36 for a US all-comers Half Marathon record in New Orleans (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
The 29-year-old ran away from the rest of the women’s field in the opening mile and was never challenged on her way to setting a 19-second personal best and shattering her national record for the 13.1-mile distance. The 2004 and 2008 Olympian is now the tied with Susan Chepkomei as the 15th fastest ever over the distance.
“My goal was to run a little bit slower because my coach didn’t want me to push it too hard,” said Smith, who finished sixth overall. “But I felt good out there. I’m training for the Boston Marathon so I’m in pretty heavy training at the moment so I didn’t think I would run this fast. I’m pretty happy after the heavy training week to run like that.”
Smith, who finished runner-up at the New Orleans event in 2010, eclipsed the previous All-Comers mark of 1:07:44 set by Ethiopian Meseret Defar at the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon last September. She said she will take some time this week to focus on recovery before gearing up to run Boston in April.
“At this time last year it was only my second half-marathon I’d ever done, so now I’m a little more experienced having done two marathons. It’s getting easier to do these longer races,” she added. “For this spring, the big goal is to win Boston. It’s only 45 minutes from where I live in Providence (Rhode Island), so it’s a home course for me now.”
Molly Pritz of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester, Michigan finished second in 1:11:05, taking a minute and nine seconds off her previous personal best. Woynishet Gima Tafa of Ethiopia was third in 1:12:08. Also qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials was Pritz’s teammate Melissa White, who finished in fourth place with a time of 1:13:53.
The men’s race was a much tighter affair as former University of Arkansas all-American Josphat Boit of Kenya broke the tape in 1:03:57, one second ahead of the hard-charging Luke Humphries from the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Humphries’ teammate, Tim Young, finished third in 1:04:22.
Boit, running his second half-marathon, took off from the sound of the starter’s pistol and was joined by countryman Elkanah Kibet (4th, 1:04:24) through 10K, splitting 30:26. Humphries, meanwhile, bode his time in the chase pack for the first half of the race before surging to the lead at mile 8 (39:16) and turning it into a two-man contest between he and Boit. The duo battled all the way to the finish at City Park, until the final straightaway when The duo battled all the way to the finish at City Park, until the final straightaway when Boit pushed ahead.
“That was a surprise,” Boit said of Humphries taking the lead. “The race started from there. The win was the goal and the time will take care of itself.”
Dan Cruz (organizers) for the IAAF
Leading Results -
Half Marathon – Men
1. Josphat Boit, 26, Kenya, 1:03:57
2. Luke Humphrey, 29, USA, 1:03:58
3. Tim Young, 23, USA, 1:04:22
Half Marathon - Women
1. Kim Smith, 29, New Zealand, 1:07:36**
2. Molly Pritz, 22, USA, 1:11:05
3. Woynishet Gima Tafa, 25, Ethiopia, 1:12:08
**Set pending U.S. all-comers record
Marathon - Men
1. C. Fred Joslyn, 27, E. Syracuse, NY, 2:18:49
Marathon – Women
1. Joasia Zakrzewski, 35, United Kingdom, 2:47:25