Quad-City Times Bix 7 Attracts Young Talent

Young up-and-comers in the sport are favored in 37th edition of the storied race.

Photo: Running USA

Young up-and-comers in the sport are favored in 37th edition of the storied race

From: Running USA

DAVENPORT, Iowa – The Quad-City Times Bix 7 is attracting a younger crowd this year.

There is a good chance that the men’s winner in Saturday’s 37th edition of the race will be among the youngest in the race’s history.

Two of the top five seeds are 22 or younger. Pre-race favorite Allan Kiprono is 21.

The Bix 7 has had only one men’s winner younger than that. Lawrence Kiprotich was a month short of his 20th birthday when he pulled a stunning upset to win the 2006 race. All the other winners in the past 10 years have been 25 or older.

But don’t be shocked if Kiprono and fellow Kenyan Lani Rutto, 22, beat some much older elite runners to the tape. Each has been racing in the U.S. for less than a year.

Kiprono’s first race in this country was the Beach to Beacon 10K last August. Rutto never had run a U.S. road race until this spring.

Meb Kefelzighi, withdrew from the race because of an Achilles injury. Ryan Hall, who won the race in 2010, will not return to defend his title.

In the women’s race, rising star Misiker Mekonnin of Ethiopia, 25, has been awarded the No. 2 bib normally given to the pre-race favorite.

Mekonnin was a relative unknown before a breakthrough victory in the Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Wash., in early May. She displayed a tremendous finishing kick to defeat fellow Ethiopian Wude Ayalew by a single second.

Mekonnin was expected to be one of two Ethiopians with a good chance of winning here, but Ejegayehu Dibaba was forced to withdraw this week because of visa problems.

Mekonnin’s primary competition now is expected to come from Kenyan runners.Caroline Rotich, who was fourth in the Boston Marathon in April, figures to be the prime contender, and the field also includes Catherine Ndereba and Gladys Asiba, each of whom has the advantage of having run the Bix six times previously. Ndereba has won the race three times – in 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Former Iowa State national champion Lisa Koll, who won the Bix 7 last year, has opted not to return to defend her championship.