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Abdosh, Cherobon-Bawcom Win B.A.A. Half Marathon

A record field took part on the run along Boston's Emerald Necklace Park System.

A record field took part on the run along Boston’s Emerald Necklace Park System.

From: Running USA

Ali Abdosh breaks the tape in 1:03:36 at the BAA Half Marathon. Photo:

BOSTON  — Clear skies and a starting time temperature of 67 degrees greeted an event record 5,253 runners at the 11th B.A.A. Half Marathon presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. For the second consecutive year, the race started in Franklin Park, and took runners out and back along the Emerald Necklace Park System through Brookline and Boston. Ethiopian Ali Abdosh and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom from Rome, Georgia took the titles in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 36 seconds and 1:11:58, though their respective races unfolded under opposing circumstances.

In the men’s race, Abdosh, 24, was one of five key runners who at any time seemed to capable to jump to the front and take the title. Among them were returning champion John Korir (KEN), Sam Chelanga (KEN), Gilbert Okari (KEN) and Samuel Ndereba (KEN). While the quintet jostled through the leafy roadways of the Emerald Necklace, it was Abdosh who outlasted them all, prevailing over newcomer Chelanga in the remaining half mile.

Photo Gallery: B.A.A. Half Marathon

Once the gun went off, the field was immediately dominated by a pack of 10, including Abdosh, Chelanga, Okari, Ndereba, Korir, and surprise front runner, Daniel Berry from local Sheffield Harriers. A comfortable 4:42 opening mile split kept the leaders in tight quarters, with perhaps Okari the only one wanting to stick his neck out in front the core group.

At mile two (9:38), while the media scrambled to find out who he was, Berry remained ahead of some of the best runners on the road racing circuit. Berry not only decided to push the pace through two miles, but he kept his intentions all the way up to three miles (14:34). It was there, however, that reality set in, and the Kenyan crew and Abdosh soon engulfed Berry, essentially ending his 15 minutes of fame.

Once the African contingency regained control, it was a pack mentality that would dictate the latter stages of the race. Miles marks of 19:19 (four miles), 24:13 (five miles) and 28:55 (six miles) followed, with no particular runner wanting to take the risk of pushing too soon under the warming conditions. But by the 10K point of 29:56, Abdosh was ready to turn up the heat; forcing a single file line of runners behind him.

Overall times of 33:50 (seven miles) and 38:51 (eight miles) greeted the pack of lead runners, now down to only Abdosh, Korir and Ndereba. But the eighth mile found them not only hitting the hill near the Arnold Arboretum, but also bunching back up, with Chelanga and Okari finding themselves back in the hunt for the title. The time at eight miles (43:42) showed the change in road conditions with a sluggish 5:01 mile split.

The group – Abdosh, Korir, Ndereba, Chelanga and Okari – hit ten miles in 48:39 and 11 miles at 53:22. It was then that Abdosh decided to make his second and most decisive move in the race by gaining five meters on Chelanga and Okari. Korir, one of the most successful road racers over the past decade, fell of the back end of the pack at this point; leaving only Ndereba with any possible chance to upset Abdosh’s plans for victory.

The runners entered the Franklin Park Zoo, passing miles 12 and 13 with no change in order. Chelanga kept his chances of winning with the approach of White Stadium and the finish line area. It was only after entering the stadium grounds did Abdosh finally establish himself as the clear victor in 1:03:36, winning over Chelanga by five seconds. Third place went to Okari (1:03:48), fourth to Ndereba (1:04:01) and defending champ Korir (1:04:37) rounding out the top five. Top American honors went to B.A.A. club member Timothy Ritchie (1:05:29), seventh overall.

“I still thought I could win once we got near the stadium,” said Chelanga. “But once we hit the track, it was second place for me.” Chelanga, who was 4th place at the B.A.A. 10K last June, was very happy with his race, despite the runner-up placing. “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.”

The women’s race once again saw two strong runners dual it out from start. Cherobon-Bawcom (left, PhotoRun) and defending champCaroline Rotich (KEN) returned to renew their epic battle from 2010. Both of them lead through miles one and two, with only Jane Kibii (KEN) keeping pace. The trio hit mile three in 15:24, and by this time it looked as though Kibii was ready to relinquish her chances of winning, allowing Cherobon-Bawcom and Rotich to open up a 100 meter lead by mile four (20:40).

From that point forward it would be a mirror image of last year’s race with both women running side-by-side; however, the race would soon take a dramatic turn as the women entered the Arnold Arboretum and the 8 mile split.

“I don’t really remember what happened for the first half of the race,” commented Cherobon-Bawcom. “But we got to the seven or seven point five mile mark, and next thing I knew I looked back and Caroline was falling off.”

Mile eight (42:33) saw Cherobon-Bawcom, 33, open up her lead to almost 30 meters. She then increased that to almost 40 seconds by mile nine (48:04).

With every passing mile, Cherobon-Bawcom furthered her lead, closing in on victory, and getting closer to taking home the $5000 first place prize. Cruising into White Stadium with a bright smile on her face, Cherobon-Bawcom waved to the crowd and avenged her second place finish from last year. Rotich was runner-up in 1:13:33.

Behind Cherobon-Bawcom and Rotich was Heather Cappello of the B.A.A. Running Club, who finished third in 1:13:44. Kibii of Kenya finished fourth (1:16:18), and Diana Bowser of Needham, MA and also of the B.A.A. Running Club placed fifth (1:17:37).

In the crowd were thousands of smiling faces, including nearly 500 runners from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Running the Race Against Cancer Team. Representing 17 different states, the Dana-Farber runners in the B.A.A. Half Marathon raised more than $300,000 to help fund scientists and clinicians at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Also in the crowd was former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi and his wife Heidi. Finishing together with an official time of 2:10:04 for Heidi and 2:10:05 for Tedy (it was the furthest distance the former linebacker has ever covered).

11th B.A.A. Half Marathon Results
Boston, MA, Sunday, October 9, 2011

1) Ali Abdosh (ETH), 1:03:36, $5000
2) Sam Chelanga (KEN), 1:03:41, $3000
3) Gilbert Okari (KEN), 1:03:48, $1500
4) Samuel Ndereba (KEN), 1:04:01, $1000
5) John Korir (KEN), 1:04:37, $600
6) John Itati (KEN), 1:04:39, $500
7) Timothy Ritchie (USA / MA), 1:05:29, $400
8) Fernando Cabada (USA / CO), 1:06:18, $300
9) Kevin Johnson (USA / NH), 1:07:38, $200
10) Mike Popejoy (USA / IN), 1:07:50, $100

1) Joseph Koech, 42, KEN, 1:11:30, $500
2) Wayne Levy, 46, MA, 1:15:30, $300
3) Gregory Picklesimer, 45, MA, 1:17:17, $100

1) Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (USA / GA), 1:11:58, $5000
2) Caroline Rotich (KEN), 1:13:33, $3000
3) Heather Cappello (USA / MA), 1:13:44, $1500
4) Jane Kibii (KEN), 1:16:18, $1000
5) Diana Bowser (USA / MA), 1:17:37, $600
6) Elle Pishny (USA / MA), 1:20:10, $500
7) Amanda Brewster (USA / MA), 1:20:54, $400
8) Caroline Bjune (USA / MA), 1:21:20, $300
9) Jordan Daniel (USA / VA), 1:22:25, $200
10) Melissa Henry (USA / MA), 1:23:11, $100

1) Sonal Shah, 40, MA, 1:34:45, $500
2) Lisa Motta, 53, MA, 1:34:55, $300
3) Francesca Dominici, 41, MA, 1:35:01, $300