Ryan Hall finishes fourth; Miyauchi comes from behind to win the women’s race.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
Last weekend Hurricane Irene blew through Virginia Beach, but this morning it was Kenyan Benson Barus who blew away the competition at the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. Barus, who is in training for the Beijing Marathon on October 16, crossed the finish line in 1:02:22–13 seconds ahead of countryman Solomon Busendich.
“I was coming here for training,” Barus said after the race. “I’m preparing for Beijing Marathon and I would like to do well there too.”
Blowing through the first 2 miles in 9:02, the duo left the rest of the field in their wake, including fellow Kenyan Samuel Nderaba, American half-marathon record holder, Ryan Hall, and Canadian marathoners Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis.
Barus and Busendich split 4:42 and 4:48 for their next 2 miles, before slowing down heading into the 5-mile mark, reached in 23:54. Buesendich tried running away from Barus, but only seemed to be wasting a lot of unnecessary energy by taking odd angles across the road and around turns.
“He’s my friend but we are competing,” Barus said of Busendich. “He was using a lot of energy to run from here to there. He ran many more kilometers than me. I say let him go and bring him back slowly. I say let me run my pace. I was not competing with anyone–just myself.”
Barus used a 4:47 seventh mile to try and break Busendich, but to no avail. He finally put him away with a final 5K under 15 minutes to break the tape by a comfortable margin.
Behind Barus and Busendich, Hall and Nderaba battled back and forth the entire race, even cutting the lead duo’s 45-second advantage down to 22 at one point. In the end, however, Hall, who is in the midst of heavy training for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9, didn’t have the legs to completely close the gap.
“I really didn’t know what to expect with a half marathon leading up to a marathon,” said Hall, who got outkicked by Nderaba to finish fourth in 1:03:02. “I’ll feel very strong and very comfortable at a certain pace and then I go a little quicker and I don’t feel comfortable at all. And that’s where the difference between half marathon and marathon fitness is. So when I was out there running I was like “I think I could run a marathon at that pace but when I’d go to the front and try to go a faster it would feel very uncomfortable. That’s a good sign actually.”
In the women’s race a pack of three took off from the start, including Kenyan Jane Kibil and Japanese runners Yurika Nakamura and Fumiko Hashimoto. The trio sped through 10K in 33:46 (5:26 avg. mile) and maintained that pace through 10 miles in 54:39.
Lurking behind the leaders, however, was another Japanese runner, Yoko Miyauchi, who was 17 seconds back at the 9-mile mark. A mile later she was less than 10 seconds down and by the race’s 10-1/2 mile mark had taken over the lead–one she did not relinquish all the way to the finish line, which she crossed in 1:11:49.
“Just before the bridge I could sense that she was dropping off and put in a little bit of a move,” Miyauchi said. “I couldn’t hear her breathing so I knew she was away.”
Kibel held on for second in 1:12:04, while Nakamura took third in 1:12:10. In all, Japan placed eight runners amongst the top 10 in the women’s race. Aside from the runner-up Kibel, the only other non-Japanese runner to crack the top-10 was Romanian Nuta Olaru in eighth place, running 1:14:05.
Also of note in the women’s race was 14-year old Alana Hadley of Charlotte, NC, who set a pending national age group record for women 15 and under by running 1:17:14, good enough for 11th place.