Earlier this week, organizers of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race announced their elite athlete field for the race’s upcoming 41st edition. Among the entrants are defending champion Stanley Biwott and road racing standout Lineth Chepkurui, both of Kenya. The seven-mile, Woods Hole-to-Falmouth Heights race on August 11, will also feature a separate elite women’s start for the first time in event history.
Biwott, 27, returns to the coastal town of Falmouth a year after winning the race in 31:59. The New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be his second contest in eight days on New England soil, as he will compete at the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine on August 3, where he is also attempting to retain his title.
Joining Biwott on the starting line will be fellow Kenyan Micah Kogo, a racer who has seen quite a bit of success on the roads of Massachusetts. He won the Falmouth Road Race in 2007, placed runner-up in 2011, and last April finished second at the Boston Marathon.
Chris Solinsky and Luke Puskedra lead the American contingent, which also includes Portland, Ore., based German Fernandez. Solinsky finished 30th last year as part of his comeback after an injury; Puskedra was the top American in 11th a year ago.
Fernandez, 22, is new to the road racing scene. According to Tilastopaja.org and the Race Results Weekly yearly databases from 2011 to 2013, the Oklahoma State alum has only competed on the roads once since 2011. In March of this year, Fernandez won the Team Red Lizard Five Miler in Lake Oswego, Ore., finishing more than a minute ahead of runner-up Jordan Welling. The race is not considered elite on the national stage, with only four of the 100 finishers breaking 26 minutes for 5 miles.
The women’s contest will be a showcase all it’s own, with a separate elite female start ten minutes before the masses of more than 10,000 runners. Leading the charge is Chepkurui, the 2013 Utica Boilermaker and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race winner. Chepkurui was fifth at Falmouth a year ago. Former race champion Wude Ayalew, third in 2012, returns, as does last year’s top American Stephanie Rothstein Bruce.
All three women mentioned above, as well as Great Britain’s Gemma Steel (third at the 2013 Oakley New York Mini 10K last month), will come to Falmouth a week after having competed at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Hansons-Brooks Distance Project athlete Neely Spence Gracey is also among the deep American field of women. She is coming off a nagging stress fracture in her leg, and has not competed since the Buffalo Half-Marathon on May 26.
Julia Lucas, Renee Metivier Baillie, and Delilah DiCrescenzo will be on the start line in front of the famed Captain Kidd pub come race morning, as will former Boston University standout and NCAA Outdoor Championships 10,000m fifth place finisher Katie Matthews.
Course records for the classic New England road race are 31:08 for men, set by Gilbert Okari in 2004, and 35:02 for women, held by Lornah Kiplagat since 2000. A prize purse of $56,000 is available for the top five men and women overall, with an additional American-only purse of $23,000 going to the top five finishers.