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Micah Kogo Wins Beach To Beacon 10K

Ethiopia's Aheza Kiros dominated the women's race.

Micah Kogo of Kenya winning the 2011 TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10-K in 27:47. Photo: Jane Monti

Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros dominated the women’s race.

Written by: David Monti

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

CAPE ELIZABETH, MAINE — Taking the lead-pack of eight through the one-mile mark at Saturday’s 14th TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K here in four minutes and 24 seconds, Micah Kogo wasn’t feeling like the winner he would become some 23 minutes later.

“I was feeling a little bit tired, because I normally start the race and push from the beginning,” said Kogo, the second-fastest man ever at 10K on the roads with a 27:01 personal best.  “But this time, I feel a little bit tired.” But Kogo, a 25 year-old Olympic bronze medallist from Burnt Forest, Kenya, would soon find his usual energy.

He and compatriot Lucas Kimeli Rotich, a track runner who clocked 13:11.73 for 5000m at the Herculis Meeting in Monaco on July 22, ran side-by-side through the second mile (8:47/4:23), and put their nearest chasers, Kenyans Allan Kiprono and Hosea Macharinyang, three meters behind.

Kogo was already planning his next move. “After one mile, two mile I started a little bit to pick it up,” he said, his head still dripping with sweat 15 minutes after the race.  “By 5K, I feel I’m strong.”

Kogo, with Rotich still with him, ran the third mile in a blistering 4:20, then clipped through 5K in 13:37.

Rotich, who is less experienced on the roads than Kogo, chose to remain on the right-hand side of the roadway, running off of the best racing line.  Kogo followed the media trucks instead, put in an acceleration, and quickly opened up a ten-meter lead. “I know [him] because we trained together in Eldoret and Kaptagat,” Kogo said of Rotich.  “I know him; he normally do on the track.  We were together, I tried to push the pace a little bit.” Ignoring the potential distraction of the weaving lead motorcycles and two media trucks, Kogo said he was lifted by the groups of cheering spectators along the course who applauded and called his name.

He hit four miles in 17:35, and five miles (just slightly longer than 8 km) in 22:02.  Gilbert Okari’s 2003 course record of 27:28 was within reach. “Myself, I was feeling strong,” Kogo continued.  “I liked the course and the people cheering when I was running.  It normally makes me run faster when people try to cheer me.” But the last two kilometers are the hardest, with several testing hills, one of which is preceded by a near U-turn entering Fort Williams Park.

Kogo was forced to slow down to protect his lead. “This is where it gets tough,” observed race founder and Olympic gold medallist Joan Samuelson as she watched Kogo from one of the media vehicles. With hopes for the record –and the corresponding $2,500 bonus– gone, victory alone would have to satisfy Kogo.  He broke the tape under brilliantly sunny skies in 27:47, earning the $10,000 winner’s purse.  Rotich held his position to take second (27:56), and Edward Muge –who won here in 2008 and 2009 and had started more conservatively– got third in 28:00.

Macharinyang finished fourth (28:01) and Kiprono fifth (28:13).  Patrick Smyth was the first American home in 29:29, good for ninth place.

In the women’s contest, Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros overwhelmed the field to win in 32:09, notching her first victory here (she was fourth her in 2009).  She was all smiles after the race. “I came to win, and I did win,” said Kiros through a translator  “I’m really happy to win.”

Behind Kiros, Kenya’s Jelliah Tinega and Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba battled for second place right to the tape.  Both women were credited with the same time, even to the tenth of a second (32:35.5) but officials awarded Tinega with the runner-up position.  Burundi’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson set a 44-second personal best in fourth (32:44), and Australia’s Benita Willis continued her comeback to form with a fifth-place finish in 33:16.  Sara Slattery of Boulder, Colo., was the first American to finish the race, taking sixth in 33:37.

Olympic Marathon bronze medallist Deena Kastor, who came more than 3000 miles to compete in this race for the first time, was unable to start.  She woke up with the flu on Friday and was not well enough to compete. “I’m still feeling pretty dehydrated and weak,” Kastor lamented as she surveyed the grassy finish area at the base of Maine’s most famous lighthouse, Portland Head Light.  “It’s lovely here.”