Micah Kogo wins 2nd Beach to Beacon title
Micah Kogo wins 2nd Beach to Beacon title

Cape Elizabeth, Maine — Kenyan stars Micah Kogo and Joyce Chepkirui posted hard fought victories in today’s 16th TD Beach to Beacon 10K over impressive fields in cool and, at times, wet conditions.  It was the first time in race history that rain fell during the competition.  For former road 10K world record holder Kogo (27:01, 2009) it was his second B2B win in three years. He also won in 2011.  While 2012 10,000 meter Olympian Chepkirui won in her first appearance in Cape Elizabeth.

Both victors made their winning moves at the five mile mark as the rolling course rose toward the Ft. Williams Park finish.  Kogo’s time of 28:02 was five seconds faster than runner up Silas Kipruto, while Chepkirui won by twelve seconds over surprise second placer Gemma Steel of Great Britain.

While temperatures were low and winds still at the start in near Crescent Beach State Park, the early pace was moderate by B2B standards.  American Meb Keflizighi controlled the early going as he did last week in his third-place finish at the Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race in Davenport, Iowa.  The gently downhill first mile fell in 4:31, as 10 men joined together to form the lead pack. The course layout from Crescent Beach State Park to Fort Williams Park was one of 1984 Olympic Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson’s training loops, adding special flare to the race.

Meb (orange) leads in mile 2 at B2B
Meb (orange) leads in mile 2 at B2B

The slightly uphill second mile took 4:43 to cover (9:14 for 2 miles) with Meb still in front, joined by eventual winner Micah Kogo, London Marathon course record holder Emmanuel Mutai, 2012 B2B runner up Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet, Bix runner up Silas Kipruto, Ryan Hall, 2:04 Ethiopian marathoner Dino Sefir, and recent University of Wisconsin grad Elliot Krause.

By three miles (13:42) Ryan Hall had surrendered his position still not race sharp after eight weeks of base training back in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Ethiopia’s Dina Sefir gave way, too, on Old Ocean House Road as the group hit 5K in 14:13, well off the 13:37 time from the 2011 B2B when Kogo won in 27:47. The men’s course record was set in 2003 by Kenya’s Gilbert Okari at 27:28.

The first serious move of the day came at 15:44 after the turn off Old Ocean House Road.  As the pack turned back onto Rte. 77 and passed a large American flag hanging over the course Micah Kogo downshifted on a slight upgrade, knocking Emmanuel Mutai, runner up at this April’s London Marathon, off the back.  Meb, too, began to lose form, but maintained contact. Silas Kipruto answered quickly, as did Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet.  Silas came in fresh off a second place finish at the Bix 7 last week and an eighth place from B2B 2012.  Stephen took second at B2B last year by just one second, so all three leaders knew exactly how the rolling course played out.

By 17:43 as the crowds grew along tree-lined Shore Road, Kogo had the lads strung out in single file, Meb’s arms beginning to pinwheel in a futile attempt to retain speed in fourth place.  Mile four was passed in 18:10 (4:27) with Kogo and 6’4” Kipruto opening up a gap on Kipkosgei-Kibet, who told of a balky hamstring which caused him to ease off just as the racing got serious.

Silas Kipruto pushes on Shore Road with Micah Kogo in tow
Silas Kipruto pushes on Shore Road with Micah Kogo in tow

Not content to let Kogo control the action, 28 year-old Silas Kipruto moved to the front at 19:19 hoping to set the hook of doubt in the mind of the 2008 Olympic 10,000 meter bronze medalist. The two passed lovely Pond Cove on their right at 21:23 as they neared five miles, but I didn’t see either one taking a peak at the scenery.    Both were far too busy as rain spit down intermittently. Kipruto’s lower lip bounced in rhythm to his foot strikes, a sign he was working hard but still under his redline.

The course began a short, but always telling rise as the green and silver balloon standard marked the five mile mark. As they approached, Kogo dug in, went back to the lead, and began zig-zagging across the road, trying to lose his taller opponent.  Mile five was passed at 22:25 (4:15). That’s when the press truck took off for the finish line.

When we got there, Kogo wasn’t far behind, having put Kipruto away through the final mile.  He hit the finish in 28:03.2, while Kipruto took a second place finish for the second straight week, five seconds later.  Marathoner Emmanuel Mutai ran a strong final two miles picking off the dead meat from the lead pack. He took third in 28:22.  Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet then arrived (28:38), followed by Meb Keflizighi in 28:37 in his first visit back to Cape Elizabeth since running fourth in 2007. The surprise in the men’s race was Wisconsin All-American Elliot Krause who finished  sixth in 29:13, while Ryan Hall had to settle for 10th in 29:44, averaging 4:48 per mile, well off the 4:40 goal he’d set for himself.

Since I had to emcee the award’s ceremony, I didn’t have a chance to talk to any of the winners, or go over the women’s race in depth.  I do know that a five-woman pack ran most of the way together with Joyce Chepkirui pulling away in mile five, just like in the men’s race.  They hit the five mile mark in 25:16 with Joyce, Bix 7 champ Sule Utura, and Britain’s Gemma Steel still together. Lineth Chepkurui’s 2010 course record of 31:00 held up for yet another year, even if Lineth didn’t herself, felled by a tight hamstring.

Joyce Chepkirui had been snubbed for selection by Athletics Kenya for a spot on their World Championship team for Moscow, and took it out on her opponents in Maine. Steel ran a huge 42-second PR in taking second place, all but dancing up onto the stage at the award’s ceremony, not quite believing she had beaten some of the names she did.  Ethiopia’s Utura joined them on the podium in third in 31:38, while America’s Deena Kastor arrived in seventh in a new B2B master’s record 32:29 as she prepares to depart for Moscow and the IAAF World Championships Marathon on August 10th.

Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet takes aim (who knows what the air guitarist in back is up to)
Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet takes aim (who knows what the air guitarist in back is up to)
"Come on in, the water's fine," says Silas to Stephen
“Come on in, the water’s fine,” says Silas to Stephen

Wife Toya and I were lucky enough to join our long-time host family, Bill and Linda Nickerson at a couple of post-race parties, the second of which was held at the home of Jeff and Kerri  Berman, who hosted Silas Kipruto.  There, Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet proved himself a world-class bean bag thrower, while Silas impressed everyone with his breast stroke in the pool.  Stephen wouldn’t get near the water without a life-vest.  His smiling message was essentially, ‘hey, I’m from the Great Rift Valley, not the beach.”

Tonight we all will party at the fabulous Lobster Bake down off Old Ocean House Road along the rocky Maine shore.  Needless to say, it doesn’t get any better than this.  I’ll try to get quotes and such for tomorrow’s post.  Till then, who has the lobster bib?



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