Davenport, Iowa – It may not have been the record heat of a week ago when Midwest thermometers were topping out in the triple digits, but with the temperature rising fast from its 77 degrees start at the 8 a.m. and blanketed by 85% humidity the 37thQuad City Times Bix 7 Road Race proved to be a radical weight loss seminar for the 15,000+ runners and walkers testing the full seven-mile distance over the rolling out-and-back course.
Kenyans Silas Kipruto (32:36) and Caroline Rotich (36:42) took home top honors and $12,500 as champions , as the race returned to an international field format after two years as the U.S. 7-Mile Road Championship. Arizona’s Abdi Abdirahman was the first U.S. male finisher in sixth place. Neither 2009 champion Meb Keflezighi (out with a heeling Achilles tendon), nor 2010 winner Ryan Hall (announcing his running of the BofA Chicago Marathon) returned to Davenport this year.
Instead, both Kipruto and Rotich led predominantly Kenyan and American fields through the sweltering conditions to impressive wins. Both champions established an early presence at the point of attack up the steep Brady Street hill as the race got underway. Then, as if on the same strategic wavelength, they stretched their respective fields to the breaking point down miles two and three as the course turned right onto rolling, crowd-lined Kirkwood Boulevard heading to the turnaround at 3 1/2 miles.
Kipruto Cuts Through the Heat
Coming off his 26:56 win at last weekend’s Wharf to Wharf 6 Miler in Cupertino, California, 26 year-old Kipruto carried a high confidence factor into the Quad Cities. Though countryman Allan Kiprono (Bellin Run 10-K champion in Green Bay) and Lani Rutto (Bellin 10K runner up) managed to catch the 6’4” Kipruto at the turnaround at 3 ½ miles, their presence at his heels seemed to spur him.The rail-thin Kenyan attacked on the first of three return hills up Kirkwood to Brady Street, slicing through the oppressive heat while opening up an insurmountable lead.
“I came here on Wednesday, saw the course, and found the place had high humidity,” said Kipruto as he accepted the gold-plated coronet trophy emblematic of the Bix Beiderbecke jazz connection to the Bix weekend. “And I like the hills and humidity.”
Only in the final mile down Brady Street did Kipruto begin to give back some of the advantage he had built up along the route. His winning time of 32:36 matched Meb Keflezighi’s 2002 winning time when race conditions were identical to those of today. Allan Kipruto came in 11 second later with Lani Rutto in third in 33:09.
Rotich prepping for World Championships
Women’s race winner Caroline Rotich was competing for only the third time in 2011. Since basing her training in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March, she has won the New York City Half Marathon, then finished a fast fourth at the Boston Marathon in April. She chose the Bix 7 because she knew the sultry conditions in the U.S. Midwest would mirror those she’ll find next month when she represents Kenya at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Daegu, South Korea.
“When I was told I was on the team, I came here to test my body as I will in Daegu,” she said, indicating she would embark for Kenya this coming week to train in Ngong on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Through the early sections of the race, fellow Kenyan Jelliah Tinega (Bellin 10K champion) was able to stay in hailing distance of Rotich, but as the race extended, so too did Caroline’s lead. Her winning time of 36:42 was the 14th fastest for a female at the Bix 7 and the fastest since Kenyan Susan Chepkemei established a course record with her winning effort of 35:24 in 2004. Caroline winning margin of 1:04 was the widest in 33 years at Bix.
“I felt good, strong, right away today,” Rotich said. “It was in my mind that I had to run a fast race, and for the first mile there was a pack. But as we got close to the turnaround, I tried to push ahead a little bit.”
That push ended the race for first. And though Jelliah Tinega fell off the Rotich pace, she managed to hold onto second place as Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, a Kenyan living in Rome, Georgia and winner of this year’s Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Half Marathon, succumbed to heat exhaustion in the final mile while running close in third place. She was taken to a local hospital where she recovered and was released.
“It was a challenging day,” confirmed Diane Nukuri-Johnson, a former Iowa University Hawkeye from Burundi who maintained to finish in third place in 37:59. “It was so hot and humid.”
Bix Legends Return
Four-time Bix open division women’s champion Joan Samuelson added her sixth straight and seventh overall master’s title (44:39) to her legacy in the Quad Cities. Though she has her own TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k next weekend in Cape Elizabeth, Maine to conduct, Joanie made her 28th straight appearance at the Bix another winning one. Fellow Bix legend Bill Rodgers also competed at Bix for the 32nd straight year. It was Bill’s appearance at Bix in 1980 that helped kick start the excellence and huge participation which has marked this event ever since under the direction of Ed Froelich.
While today’s race marked the 37th year for the Bix 7, Davenport was also welcoming riders from the 39th RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, a 472 mile trek from the western to the eastern borders of the state that finishes for the first time in Davenport today. Together the Bix and RAGBRAI represent the largest single-day participation sporting day in Iowa history. Heat be damned!
- Silas Kipruto – Ken. – 32:36
- Allan Kiprono – Ken. 32:47
- Lani Rutto – Ken. – 33:09
- Shadrack Kosgei – Ken. – 33:21
- Linus Chumba – Ken. – 33:32
- Abdi Abdirahman – U.S. – 33:47
- Ian Burrell – U.S. – 33:54
- Samuel Ndereba – Ken. – 34:00
- Abdelaziz Atmani – Indy – 34:16
- Christopher Landry – U.S. – 34:19
- Caroline Rotich – Ken. – 36:42
- Jelliah Tinega – Ken. – 37:46
- Diane Nukuri-Johnson- Brn. – 37:59
- Madai Perez – Mex. – 38:33
- Catherine Ndereba – Ken. – 38:42
- Misiker Mekonnin – Eth. – 38:43
- Everlyne Lagat – Ken. – 38:55
- Clara Grandt – U.S. – 39:36
- Gladys Asiba – Ken. – 40:54
- Erin Moeller – U.S. – 40:59