Just 2 days shy of the ½ year anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association hosted the 13th annual BAA Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13. The race was also the final event in the BAA Distance Medley, a 3-race event that includes the 5K in April, the 10K in June and the ½ Marathon in October.
I have a love/hate relationship with this race. The inaugural BAA Half Marathon in 2001 was my first half marathon ever. I remember the training, the nerves on race day and the pride of finishing. The race comes at a great time of year. And while I am the first to admit that I rarely pay attention to my surroundings while racing, it is hard to ignore the beauty of this course, as fall creeps in to the Emerald Necklace park system.
Yet, each time I have run, I seem to fall just a bit short of my goals. A course change in 2010 didn’t help, placing the toughest hills in the last 4 miles of the race. (Check out the course map elevation profile here.) Each time, I’ve come so close, but just missed whatever I had set out to accomplish. And so I keep coming back to it, of course.
One new addition to this year’s race was a wave start. I lined up near a sign that read Wave 1 7:00-7:59, however was stopped well short of the starting line after the gun went off and instead began 3 minutes later with wave 2. While it was a little unclear exactly how the waves were actually determined, it definitely helped to clear up some of the congestion that I recall at the start of this race in previous years.
Besides the wave start, this year’s half operated very similarly to past years. Yet the memory of the Boston Marathon bombings was clearly present among the runners, many who had also participated in the marathon on April 15th. The BAA Half Marathon has always been a popular race. The last few years it sold out in about 1 hour. This year, the race sold out in 12 minutes, according to race announcer and BAA executive director, Dave Grilk. I am glad now for that reminder in my calendar that sent me to the registration website at 9:58am, so I could log in promptly when registration opened at 10:00am. Seventy-five hundred runners registered for the event, with 6535 official starters, topping the previous record of starters by nearly 1,100, according to the BAA’s Facebook page. For the race results, click here.
Memories of the marathon also surfaced as marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethopia also claimed the crown at the half with a new course record of 1:00:34. Desisa also gained notoriety in Boston when he returned for the BAA 10K this past June and gave his marathon medal to Mayor Tom Menino as a gesture of solidarity with the victims and in memory of those who suffered and those who died that day. Here’s a photo of him and some of the other leaders earlier in the race.
Winning the race for the women was Kim Smith of New Zealand. Smith won the race for a second year in a row, becoming only the second woman in the race’s history to do so. She, too, set a new course record with a time of 1:09:14. Smith also took home the honor of the women’s Distance Medley champion. Stephen Sambu of Kenya placed first in the men’s Distance Medley and 3rd at the half.
Although the weather may have been similar and the winner the same, the runners and spectators at the BAA Half Marathon could not have felt more differently than they did 6 months earlier. Coincidentally timed to take place just before the ½ year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, the BAA Half Marathon was a day to celebrate running in Boston and hopefully a precursor of what is to come 6 months from now.
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