|Ethiopian Ali Abdosh (left) and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, a Kenyan-born American, captured their respective divisions at the Boston Athletic Association’s Half Marathon. (Photos by Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)|
Abdosh, Cherobon-Bawcom win Half
Ali Abdosh was the lone Ethiopian in a tightly-packed lead group in yesterday’s Boston Athletic Association’s Half Marathon. Surrounded by Kenyans, the 24-year-old Abdosh jockeyed with five to eight other runners as bright blue skies soon sent temperatures into the 70s despite the 8:30 a.m. start.
The pack clung together through numerous hairpin turns coming off the Riverway, and again in Franklin Park. Only when the leaders - Abdosh, Sam Chelanga, and Gilbert Okari - neared the finish at White Stadium in Franklin Park was Abdosh able to pull ahead with a short, decisive kick. Abdosh crossed the line in 1 hour 3 minutes 36 seconds, followed by Chelanga, five seconds back.
“[Abdosh’s move] was only with .5 miles to go, right behind the stadium,’’ said Chelanga, 26, who was making his half marathon debut.
Abdosh said it was hard to make a move earlier because of the narrow roadways through the park. “The last of the course was good,’’ Abdosh said, “to go push, push, push.’’
In the women’s race, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (Kenyan-born but now a US citizen) claimed her fourth straight race of the last two months (she’ll run again in the Tufts 10K today) in 1:11.58. Defending champion Caroline Rotich, 27, stayed with Cherobon-Bawcom’s fast start for a while, but when the winner pushed the pace on the hills between miles 7 and 8, she lost touch.
“I looked back and she was not anywhere,’’ said Cherobon-Bawcom, 33, who was not challenged again.
The defender, who will run the New York Marathon next month before taking a break, was second in 1:13:33, followed by 31-year-old Heather Cappello, an Arlington native, in 1:13:44.
Cherobon-Bawcom, who lives in Rome, Ga., said she will take time off before she starts training for the Olympic Trials Marathon (in Houston in January).
The men’s leaders had a more difficult time finding room to run, particularly as the pace was not especially fast, opening with miles of 4:42, 4:56, and 4:56. The pack, which included veteran Kenyan road racers John Korir and Samuel Ndereba, ran much of the race as a group of 10, including one surprise: Daniel Barry of Sheffield, a recent UMass grad who managed to keep up with the more experienced group for three miles.
At mile 10, the leaders were still running five abreast. Nearing the stadium and the last half mile, three were left clumped together (Abdosh, Chelanga, and Ndereba) when Abdosh made his final surge to pull away.
The top American finisher was Timothy Ritchie, seventh in 1:05:29.
“I am very happy,’’ said Abdosh, who has been recovering from a right thigh injury. “It’s my first win in a long time.’’
Chelanga, who had a chance to win until the very last strides, first turned pro in June at the BAA’s 10K, finishing fourth.
“I was a little jumpy at first,’’ said Chelanga. “This is a longer race than I usually run, and I just wanted to see how it would feel. But I really like running here in Boston, so I’m happy with my race.’’
This is the end of the season for most of the runners, but Chelanga still has a full schedule. He will marry Liberty University teammate Marybeth Carlson of Plymouth later this month.
There were 5,253 official starters, including six wheelchair athletes, led by seven-time winner Tony Nogueira (US), who won in 56:56.
Former Patriot Tedy Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, joined the field, finishing in 2:10.05.