California runner only second American woman to win in 17 years.
Written by: Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
FALMOUTH, Mass. — For only the second time in 17 years, an American woman won the New Balance Falmouth Road Race. In the final mile of today’s race, Magdalena Lewy Boulet from Oakland, Calif., broke away to take the $10,000 first-place prize, plus another $10,000 for being the first American across the blue and red finish in Falmouth Heights. The win is Lewy Boulet’s second on the roads this summer. Kenya’s Lucas Rotich won the men’s race in 31:37, four seconds up on compatriot Micah Kogo.
After Adriana Nelson took the pace out early in the women’s competition, Lewy Boulet, Burundi’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson, Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba, and American Janet Cherobon-Bawcom made their way along Vineyard Sound working together. Lewy Boulet, knowing she was in good shape following her 15:14.25 5,000-meter personal best set in Stockholm last month, kept the pace honest.
“I just kept pressing the pace, and once we got through the hills [of the first half], I kind of figured we only have three miles to go, so I settled into a groove,” said the Bay Area Track Club Member, with her sunglasses propped up on her head.
The pack gradually dwindled down as the athletes made their way towards the finish, with Lewy Boulet and Nukuri-Johnson, who ran a personal best 32:38 at last Saturday’s TB Bank Beach to Beacon 10K, staying at the front.
Six miles into the seven-mile race, Lewy-Boulet knew she had enough to push on, surging in an attempt to break Nukuri-Johnson. The 38-year-old mother did just that, cresting the final hill and breaking the tape in 36:58 under a very large American flag.
“When you see that huge American flag, it’s really hard not to push,” said the winner, who became an American citizen on September 11, 2001. “It’s very special.”
The last American to win Falmouth was three-time Olympian Jen Rhines in 2003.
Despite waking up feeling awful, Nukuri-Johnson, 26, finished second in 37:13, with the four-time Boston Marathon champion Ndereba third in 37:24. Cherobon-Bawcom, of Rome, Ga., Kim Conley of San Diego, Calif., rounded out the top five. In total, eight Americans finished in the top-ten.
The men’s race saw its own pack separate from the field after two miles, hit in 9:06. Micah Kogo, the 2007 Falmouth Road Race champion and last Saturday’s Beach to Beacon winner, was joined by fellow Kenyans Lucas Rotich and Edward Muge, as well as American steeplechaser Brian Olinger.
Approaching 5 kilometers, Kogo and Rotich began to leave Olinger and Muge behind, a gap of about 13 seconds in between. With a steady wind blowing across their right shoulders, Kogo and Rotich were playing the waiting game, staying side-by-side one another.
Until 10 kilometers, the two groups remained unchanged: Kogo and Rotich up front two abreast, with Olinger and Muge ten seconds back, the American on one side of the road, with the Kenyan on the other. But one thing stood out to all on the press truck– the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Kogo had gone for water twice, crossing the road abruptly each time he reached for a cup.
“I see him drink a lot of water, and I say maybe he has a problem,” said Rotich later, who didn’t grab any of his own during the 7.1 mile race.
Rotich knew that was a sign the 25-year-old wasn’t feeling as good as he had in last week’s race where Rotich finished second.
But Rotich had his own troubles; he didn’t know the course, and wasn’t sure how much running was left. Rotich asked Kogo, and got his answer.
“For me, it is quite difficult to lie to someone when running,” said the honest Kogo.
Despite that, with a mile to go, Rotich took sole command of the lead for the first time. As soon as Kogo tucked in behind, hoping to save any time he could, Rotich was gone. Lengthening the gap all the way to the finish, Rotich crossed in 31:37, four seconds ahead of Kogo’s 31:41.
Charging down the final hill in third came Muge in 32:02, 14 seconds ahead of Olinger.
“I felt very in control,” said Olinger, who felt he was pushed on by the American support from the crowd. “It was unbelievable. I think that’s why I got a stitch at 10K, because I got so excited, I tensed up and started to hyper-ventilate a bit because I was getting so amped up by the crowd.”
The 25-year-old based in Columbus, Ohio was happy to earn more than the winner Rotich, as he takes home the $1,500 fourth-place open prize and $10,000 more as the first American finisher.
“I’m very grateful, but it feels a little odd that I end up getting more than the winner does in fourth,” he said.
Like the women, Americans crowded the top-ten, taking six of the ten men’s spots.