“My goal is to win,” said Abera Kuma of Ethiopia, speaking at a press conference the day before the 2013 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K. Across from Kuma were four Kenyans whom he’ll face on the Central Park course, among them Leonard Patrick Komon, who holds not only the Central Park 10K record—he ran 27:35 to win this event in 2011—but also the world road 10K record of 26:44.
Kuma’s goal would look like hubris if he wasn’t so young and fast: He recently won his half-marathon debut in an excellent 1:00:19, and at 22, his improvement curve is steep.
Consider the long Kenya-Ethiopia running rivalry, the $25,000 first-place prize (largest of any USA non-marathon race), and the Zayed Bonus of $30,000 waiting for any winner who breaks Komon’s event record, and you get a strong likelihood that this race’s leaders will come down the West Side at about the speed of the IRT express.
Komon’s compatriots can’t be ignored: Edwin Soi is the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 5000 meters, Leonard Korir won the 2011 NCAA Championships at 10,000 meters, and Moses Kipsiro was a 2012 London Olympic finalist at 5000 and 10,000 meters. Two strong Australians, national 10,000-meter record-holder Ben St. Lawrence, fresh off a win at the Payton Jordan Stanford Invitational 10,000 meters, and Collis Birmingham, whose record St. Lawrence broke (“We pretty much can’t stand each other now,” Birmingham joked), follow in the tradition of Australian two-time race winner Craig Mottram (2005, 2006). American Meb Keflezighi, who turned 38 last week, will be running his first race since his fourth-place finish in the London Olympic Marathon.
The race, now in its ninth year, is sponsored the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in support of the National Kidney Foundation.
“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