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True Repeats As B.A.A. 5K Champion

Werknesh Kidane takes women's race in course-record time.

Werknesh Kidane takes women’s race in course-record time. 

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

BOSTON — Setting the stage for tomorrow’s 116th Boston Marathon, Ben True and Werknesh Kidane smashed the course records at this morning’s fourth annual B.A.A. 5K held on the streets of Boston’s Back Bay.  True, the defending champion who held the previous record of 14:07 set last year, clocked 13:41, while Kidane ran 15:12, a massive improvement over Lineth Chepkurui’s one year-old standard of 15:52.

True, a Maine native who starred for Dartmouth College during his NCAA career, let Kenya’s Lani Rutto and Sam Chelanga dictate the early pace.  After the pack hit the mile mark in 4:35, Rutto pushed into the lead and upped the tempo.

“It was a little bit quicker from the start,” True said, comparing it to last year’s race.  “Definitely, we picked it up a little more in the middle.”

Rutto ran the second mile in a swift 4:23, but that didn’t do much to break up the lead pack.  New Zealand’s Adrian Blincoe, Kenya’s Allan Kiprono, and American Aaron Braun were still within striking distance of True, Chelanga and Rutto.  True knew that he would need his usually strong kick to win, but wasn’t feeling confident when Rutto and Chelanga opened a slight lead past the two-mile mark and he was forced to catch up.

“I was a little worried with about a mile to go that maybe I just didn’t have my legs today,” True admitted.  “But this finishing straight is very long, and I think a lot of people forget how long it is.  I was just biding my time on the way down, just trying to make sure I had something in reserve to try to get by them in the end.”

True showed that he had the best combination of strength and speed today.  He closed the gap, then timed his kick to perfection, leaving Chelanga two seconds behind him.

“This is my first 5K here, so I didn’t know the course well,” Chelanga explained.  “This strip was too long,” he said pointing at the finish straight.  “It’s longer than I thought.”

Rutto finished third in 13:46, just edging Blincoe who was given the same time.  Allan Kiprono finished fifth in 13:48.  Helped at least a little by the sunny, cool and dry racing conditions, the first 11 men over the finish line all broke the old course record.

“The race here is reassuring that my fitness is where it needs to be right now,” True concluded.  “Hopefully it will bode well coming into the Olympic Trials in June.”

Kidane, whose husband Gebre Gebremariam will run tomorrow’s marathon here, overwhelmed the field, handily beating Ethiopian compatriot Aheza Kiros (15:21) and New Zealand’s Kim Smith (15:26).

“I knew I was going to win,” Kidane said through a translator of her final push to the finish line.

Smith, who is strongest at distances of 10 kilometers or longer, said that she and Kiros tried to stay with Kidane but couldn’t.

“Werknesh just took it out pretty hard for the first mile,” Smith explained.  “Myself and Aheza tried to keep up with her.  But, on the downhill after mile one she just went really fast and got away from us. Fifteen eleven (15:11) on that course is pretty impressive.”

Like in the men’s race, all of the top finishers broke the old course record.  American Janet Cherobon-Bawcom finished fourth in 15:41, just ahead of Burundi’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson (same time), while American Sarah Porter finished sixth in 15:50.

Both True and Kidane earned $5,000 in prize money.  Today’s event was the first event of the inaugural B.A.A. Distance Medley, a three-race series where the top male and female finishers will receive $100,000 based on total time.  The other two races are the B.A.A. 10K on June 24 and the B.A.A. Half Marathon on October 7.   A record 5,254 runners crossed the finish line on Boylston Street.