Amy Hastings led the way for the Americans.
From: Running USA
BOULDER, Colo. — After going out too fast in last year’s Dick’s Sporting Goods BolderBOULDER 10K and leading her unsuspecting teammates into early oxygen debt and a third-place team finish, Renee Metivier-Baillie vowed to run smarter this year. That she and her teammates, Amy Hastings and Magdalena Lewy Boulet, did on this cloudy Memorial Day, placing second in the 2011 International Team Challenge.
The American women scored 19 points, coming just two points shy of upsetting powerhouse Ethiopia for the team title. Kenya, led by race champion Lineth Chepkurui in 32:30, was third with 26. Team Colorado, comprising Adriana Pirtea, Colleen De Reuck and Zoila Gomez, was also in the money in fifth place.
Ethiopia swept the men’s and women’s International Team Challenge titles for the third straight year, with the professional runners starting after a race record number of Bolder citizen entrants of 54,554 (with 49,271 finishers) on a new course.
In the first course change since 1981, the starting line was moved closer to the Folsom Field finish on the University of Colorado campus, to make for better loading and unloading of the runners and walkers comprising the 92 “waves” or starting groups.
“It worked out great,” said race founder Steve Bosley. His son, race director Cliff, pointed out that the start of the professional women’s race was delayed 16 minutes, because of the large number of people wanting to register Monday morning.
What also worked great was the teamwork displayed by the U.S. runners.
Boulder’s James Carney and teammates Ryan Hall and Aaron Braun placed 5-7-12 to place third behind Ethiopia who edged Kenya by one point, 12 to 13. Team Colorado (Jason Hartmann, Fernando Cabada and Brian Medigovich) also earned prize money, placing fourth.
Ethiopian 10,000 meter specialists Belete Assefa and Solomon Gonfa went 1-2, followed by Kenyans Allan Kiprono, who trains in Boulder under Dieter Hogan, and MacDonald Ondara. The winning time of 29 minutes, 23 seconds was not especially fast, but the BolderBOULDER is all about competition for the professional runners, said Ethiopian Hussen Adelo.
“When we race against Kenya, it is a fight!” he exclaimed through a translator, making boxing motions with his fists.
Local favorite Carney runs well at the BolderBOULDER. On Monday, he ran with Hall until 3½ miles, where the course climbs west towards the mountains before turning south and cresting at 4 miles. That is where Carney then caught Braun, and he picked off the faster starters on his way to his fifth-place finish (30:17), good for $1600 as well as his share of $17,500 team prize. Both totals include U.S. Olympic training funds.
“You line ‘em up, and I’ll knock ‘em down,” a happy Carney said, after standing with the other elites and the capacity crowd inside the football stadium. Everyone looked up as two F-14 fighter jets flew over, and grew silent during the moving playing of taps and singing of the national anthem, all part of what has become the largest Memorial Day gathering in the nation.
The most visible of the runners pre-race was 2008 Olympian Hall, coming off his epic Boston Marathon run just six weeks ago.
“I was pleased with my race,” Hall said. “I just wanted to enjoy the ride, coming off my 2:04. This is icing on the cake; the crowd was amazing, like the Olympics.”
The rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia was reminiscent of the Olympics as well. This was the fifth consecutive Ethiopia win in the men’s race, but as close as it could be after last year’s 1-2-3 Ethiopia sweep that left the Kenyans privately fuming.
The third Kenyan in on Monday, Lani Rutto in sixth, finished ahead of Adelo, the third Ethiopian scorer. However, Adelo, a 2:09 marathoner, won it for his team in the most exciting sprint of the day, outkicking Constantino Leon Lopez of Peru at the 40-yard line by less than a tick of the clock for 9th place. That was enough to keep the Ethiopian streak going.
Perhaps it was the new start of the race, which is slightly uphill – the traditional course had a slight downhill – but this year, the packs stayed together longer, making for exciting team races on both the men’s and women’s sides.
“I was hurting once again,” said Metivier-Baillie, who showed true grit by running on a gimpy leg she injured during the club cross country championships in December. She has run just two races since then, and had only two months of full training leading into the BolderBOULDER.
Metivier-Baillie held her teammates back in the early going, unlike last year’s fast opening.
“It is a magical moment working together as a team,” added Metivier-Baillie. “We were second this time; next year, we will go for the win.”
Hastings, whose 2:27:03 at the Honda LA Marathon last March is the 8th fastest U.S. women’s time ever, placed fourth in 34:20. The Mammoth Track Club athlete said that with her focus on the 2012 Olympics, she does not know if the same Team USA will be back for a third Bolder next year, but she would like to return.
“The team aspect is so exciting,” she said. “It is so much more fun, and the crowd at the finish was amazing. Like the Olympics.”
Then Hastings paused. “Well, what I imagine the Olympics sound like. I have not been there … yet.”
At the 33rd edition, fittingly, a veteran, Mieszka Laczek-Johnson, age 34 of Denver, became the race’s one millionth finisher (the 20,801st finisher overall); she ran the 6.2 mile course in 58:43.