Janet Bawcom, who plans to make her ING New York City Marathon debut on November 3, clocked 32:28 in finishing fourth in Monday’s Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women. Although she hadn't raced since July 4 because of injury, the time was just one second off her 2011 personal best.
“It felt a little quicker than I wanted but I felt strong, so that’s a very good sign, for sure,” said Bawcom, 35.
Known as a prolific racer, Bawcom lined up 13 times last year. By contrast, the Tufts 10K was only her fifth race of 2013 as she battled shin splints. The ever-smiling, late-blooming pro won the USA 15K Championships, her first race of the season, in early March, but after finishing eighth in the Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4 took about a month off to heal.
“I have been so itching to get on the roads so bad,” she said. “I didn’t know how [Tufts] was going to stack up. For somebody who races so often, you kind of know yourself, and for me not racing in three months I didn’t know what to expect. I’m excited just to be back and feeling fast for once.”
For a while, Bawcom said, she was unsure that she would be ready in time to reach the ING New York City Marathon start line. “I just gave it a ‘go’ a few weeks ago, for sure,” she said. She hopes to run sub-2:30, which could improve the personal best of 2:29:45 she set when she finished fifth in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January of 2012. Scheduled to run in NYC last year before the race was canceled, she has not run a marathon since those Trials.
Not only is Bawcom—who became a U.S. citizen in 2010—on the move again in the racing world, but she will soon be relocating from Flagstaff, AZ, to her native Kenya. Her husband, Jay, will leave for Kenya the day after the ING New York City Marathon, where he will be doing HIV/AIDS research for the Kansas Medical Center. The couple plans to spend November and December with Bawcom’s mother in Kapsabet, before likely settling in the training mecca of Iten or Eldoret, to be near two sisters who recently gave birth.
Bawcom, who as Janet Cherobon left her homeland in 2000 to study nursing at Harding University in Arkansas, said that she hasn’t spent an extended amount of time near her family in Kenya since she and Jay spent six months there in 2007 before the deadly election riots there prompted them to leave.
“It’s just so fantastic,” she said. “I’ll get to see my nieces and nephews and I’m just so excited.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg