On a crisp early-fall morning in New England, Allan Kiprono and Kim Smith went out for a run and came back with $106,000.
Kiprono, 22, of Kenya, and Smith, 30, of New Zealand, won the 12th B.A.A Half Marathon on Sunday, each earning $6,000 for the victory and $100,000 for winning the B.A.A. Distance Medley, a new three-race series put on by the Boston Athletic Association that began with a 5K in April, continued with a 10K in June, and culminated with the half-marathon.
With his winning time of 1:01:44, Kiprono notched a personal best and broke the event record of 1:02:20 set in 2007 by Tom Nyariki of Kenya. Smith’s time of 1:10:57 was just five seconds off of the event record set in 2010 by Kenya’s Caroline Rotich. The race began and ended in Boston’s Franklin Park, with the finish on the track of White Stadium.
Of the two victors yesterday, Smith had the easier time of it. Coming into the race, the three-time Olympian who lives in Providence, RI, had a 16-second lead over Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros in the series, which is based on cumulative time. The women’s race began slowly, with Smith and Kiros each tossing in the occasional surge to no great effect. But around mile 9, Smith finally put a gap on Kiros that stuck, and she would go on to win by almost two minutes. Kiros was runner-up in 1:12:50.
“My coach [Ray Treacy] told me to just sit, that she was the one who had to get away from me,” said Smith afterward. “He just told me to relax and the easier we could go the better, because for me, I have New York in a month and he wanted it to be a kind of easier effort for me anyway. So it kind of worked out perfectly.”
Smith is training for the ING New York City Marathon on November 4, and called the half-marathon “definitely some good training for New York with the hills and the tough terrain.” She finished 15th in the marathon at the London Games in early August, then took a week off before getting back into training for yesterday’s race and getting married on September 1.
Asked what she might do with the $100,000, she replied: “I guess a honeymoon in Hawaii, maybe?”
Kiprono, who came into the race four seconds behind series co-leaders Ali Abdosh of Ethiopia and Sam Chelanga of Kenya, had to work harder for his reward, running aggressively from the outset. By five miles, Kiprono had a 12-second lead over Chelanga, who was bothered by a stomach issue; Abdosh was reportedly struggling with a back problem.
“The race was not easy,” said Kiprono. “I wanted to see how the guys run. I start pushing very early. When I saw the first 10K was very fast, I thought, ‘oh goodness me.’”
Chasing Kiprono was his training partner, Lani Rutto of Kenya. The two, under coach Dieter Hogen, trained for this race for the past month in Iten, Kenya, and Kiprono more than once looked over his shoulder to make sure that his compatriot wasn’t gaining on him. He said he worried all the way.
“The guys who follow you, they have a lot of morale,” he said. “Running [by] yourself is not easy. You have to maintain so that these guys cannot catch up.”
By mile 10, Kiprono said, he felt confident of the win. Rutto would finish second, 1:01:55, 11 seconds back.
The outcome, said Kiprono, was not a surprise despite a bothersome hamstring.
“I feel strong when I woke up,” he said. “I said to Lani, ‘I will go, and the other guys follow me. And I’ll break the course record.’”
“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