Boston, MA. – It was an electric start to Boston Marathon weekend this morning as the BAA 5K sent a current of excitement through the bright morning sunshine along historic Charles Street. Defending men’s champion and Olympic silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia and U.S. record holder Molly Huddle used blistering late race kicks to win the opening race of Boston Marathon weekend in front of a record field of 10,000. The wins earned the champions $7500, while Gebremeskel took home an additional $5000 for the event record.
Gebremeskel barely inched out American star and native New Englander Ben True in a mad dash to the tape to set an event record 13:26. True, the 2011 & 2012 BAA 5K champ, was clocked in the exact same time, while third-placer Stephen Sambu of Kenya was only one tick back in 13:27. The top five men all went under Gebremeskel’s old event record 13:37 set last year.
In the women’s race U.S. 5000 meter track record holder Molly Huddle, now of Providence, Rhode Island, came screaming from five meters back in the final 200 meters to blow past race leader Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia in 15:12, tying the event record set in 2012 by Ethiopia’s Werknesh Kidane.
A field double the size of last year took part in the opening event of marathon weekend under chilled but calm blue skies. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sent the runners off for their 3.1 mile tour of the Back Bay, and the atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie was enveloping.
“I tried to push the first 1 or 2 kilometers,” said men’s champ Gebremeskel after his win. “But after I realized we could not run under 13:10, I was thinking of waiting until the final 400 meters. In the last 100 meters the American was very strong and pushing me. But this town in crazy with running. Every moment is the Boston Marathon. I like it very much. I have run races all over the world, but no place is like Boston. I would like to win the Boston Marathon one day.”
The BAA 5K is the opening race of the BAA Distance Medley, a series which includes the 5K, Boston Marathon, BAA 10K in June, and the BAA Half-Marathon in October. The winner of the series earns a bonus of $50,000.
“Gebremeskel and Sambu were making surges throughout,” said 2011 & 2012 BAA 5K champion Ben True a native of East Yarmouth, Maine who now trains in Hanover, N.H. “I was sitting back and covering all the moves. I was just trying to be the last one to make a move, hoping to get the jump on them in the final 80 meters, but I couldn’t.”
After finishing sixth at last year’s World Cross Country Championships in Poland, the Dartmouth grad has been trying to overcome a leg injury that was initially misdiagnosed. But now that he’s put some hard training weeks together, and been able to take on this strong a field, it’s no longer a surprise when the 28 year-old is running with (and beating) the best in the world. The BAA 5K came off a win at the U.S. 15K championships at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida in March, while Gebremeskel came in off a fourth straight win at the super-fast Carlsbad 5000 two weeks ago in Southern California in 13:13.
With True’s continued emergence, and Molly Huddle’s win, the long battle to return American runners to the podiums of the world’s top races seems to be complete.
“I was a little surprised (with the win),” admitted Huddle at the award’s ceremony on the Boston Common. “I was thinking against this strong international field that anywhere from third to fifth would be a good place. But sometime you just have one of those days.”
In the aftermath of the 2013 tragedy at Boston, and last Monday’s Tribute ceremony commemorating its one year anniversary, one could feel the relief that racing was again taking center stage. With a bright sun shining on the weathered brick-face of Beacon Hill, and the U.S. Army Drum & Fife Corps playing tunes from the American Revolution, the sense of history was palpable. What a way to begin the weekend.
Later today the high school and professional road miles will be contested on Boylston Street, as the energy that has poured into the city begins to light up the roads once again.
1. Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) – 13:26 (event record, old record 13:37 Gebremeskel 2013)
2. Ben True (USA) – 13:26
3. Stephen Sambu (KEN) – 13:27
4. Lani Rutto (KEN) – 13:30
5. Daniel Salel (KEN) – 13:31
6. Tyler Pennel (USA) – 13:42
7. Leonard Korir (KEN) – 13:44
8. Nick McCormick (GBR) – 13:45
9. Haron Lagat (KEN) – 13:46
10. Bobby Curtis (USA) – 13:47
1. Molly Huddle (USA) – 15:12
2. Mamitu Daska (ETH) – 15:14
3. Sentayehu Ejigu (ETH) – 15:16
4. Betsy Saina (KEN) – 15:16
5. Gotytom Gebreslase (ETH) – 15:17
6. Linet Masai (KEN) – 15:21
7. Lineth Chepkurui (KEN) – 15:35
8. Amy Van Alstine (USA) – 15:38
9. Emelia Gorecka (GBR) – 15:40
10. Amy Hastings (USA) – 15:45