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BAA 10K

Mutai, Smith are leaders of the packs

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / June 25, 2012
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Geoffrey Mutai appeared to be flying.

The 30-year-old Kenyan won his second consecutive Boston Athletic Association 10K race Sunday, running away from the field to win in 27 minutes 29 seconds. He did it by slicing his way around several sharp corners as the race moved out of Kenmore Square near the 7K mark, taking a hard right onto Charlesgate West, and immediately turning left back onto Commonwealth Ave.

Mutai’s feet scarcely touched the ground as he gained a few seconds on the first turn, then skimmed over the second. Mutai nearly ran up the exhaust pipe of the official photographer’s motorcycle, and his last challenger, Philip Langat, was left far behind.

“I like it when I get the corner,’’ Mutai said. “I increase my speed.’’

Kim Smith, also 30, also ran away to run alone for the last 2 miles, setting a course record in winning the women’s race in 31:36, 22 seconds faster than Caroline Kilel’s mark in the inaugural race in 2011. Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia was 21 seconds back in second.

“I like to run alone and push, so it kind of suited me,’’ said Smith.

As the race moved out from the Public Gardens and unfolded down shady Commonwealth Avenue, Smith said she kept an eye on Kiros, who pushed the pace in the fourth mile. Smith suspected Kiros was tiring, and as the road rises by the BU Bridge, Smith answered with a decisive surge.

“At the 4-mile mark I left her behind on the uphill,’’ said Smith, who has lived in Providence for 10 years and considers herself a local. “I wasn’t sure how far she was. I really wanted to ask someone in the crowd.’’

The victory gave Smith a big lead in the BAA’s new Distance Medley (cumulative time in the 5K in April, the 10K, and the half-marathon in October), 15 seconds ahead of Kiros. The prize is $100,000 and Smith is obviously excited by her prospects.

“It’s exciting for the sport,’’ said Smith. “And I’ve got a wedding to pay for this summer. It definitely would help with that.

“As the distance goes up, I probably have a little advantage on [Kiros]. My favorite race is the half-marathon. It’s just a bonus to have that lead after the 10K.’’

Ethiopia’s Ali Abdosh, third in the men’s race at 28:21, leads Kenyan Sam Chelanga (sixth, 28:28) by 1 second in the Distance Medley. Allan Kiprono, also Kenyan, is four seconds back.

For the second year in a row, Mutai made his move near Mile 4, as he pounded down the now-baking asphalt in front of BU, smoothly adding speed stride by stride.

“I tried to go on my own pace,’’ said Langat, “and I followed him. After 6K, it was very difficult so I reduced the pace - he was going at a very high speed.’’

No one again got close to Mutai, and without Langat pushing him, Mutai slowed a little, falling short of his own course record by 10 seconds.

But Boston is a special place for Mutai; his daughter was born on last year’s race day and he has had great success here.

“I am happy again,’’ Mutai said. “I don’t know if you know all my happiness when I am in Boston. Not like the other races.’’

Although Smith will be running the marathon for her native New Zealand in the Olympic Games, her co-winner Mutai, who ran the world’s fastest marathon in the 2011 Boston Marathon (not a world record because the Boston course does not conform) was not named to the three-man Kenyan squad. Unfortunately Mutai, who holds both the Boston and New York City Marathon course records, dropped out of this year’s Boston Marathon with stomach cramps.

“For me, I am not making the Olympic team but, for me, it did not affect me in my mind,’’ Mutai said. “I’m still keeping on; I still have a long way to work.

“I’m still looking forward to my career.’’

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