American Ben True finishes a close second in the men’s race.
FALMOUTH, Mass. — Kenyans Micah Kogo and Joyce Chepkirui won their second road race titles in eight days, breaking the tape first here at the 41st New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Sunday. Under perfect sunny skies, the tandem continued its winning ways on the sometimes-winding roads between Woods Hole and Falmouth Heights.
Kogo Earns Close Victory Over American True
In order to claim victory, Kogo had to overcome a surprise challenged and dig deep in the final kilometers here along Vineyard Sound.
After the horn sounded in Woods Hole and 12,800 athletes made their way out of the quaint harbor side village in various waves, a 10-man pack formed that would dwindle down to five by the four-mile mark. Joining Kogo — the 2007 race champion — was fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai and Americans Abdi Abdirahman, Ben True, and Ben Bruce.
Together the group would stay together up and down the rolling course until it neared the 10-kilometer mark. With Bruce fading slightly, the quartet of Kogo, Mutai, Abdirahman, and True pushed on.
Noticing True alongside, Kogo was surprised to see an unfamiliar American sticking tough in the last mile. Admittedly, Kogo didn’t know who True was despite his 13:11.59, 5000m track credentials.
“The white guy, I knew when he stayed the last kilometer, I knew it was going to be anybody’s race,” said Kogo. “I know some strong white guys like Ryan Hall and so many others. But today I didn’t know this guy who was strong today. He stayed with us until the last kilometer.”
After Abdirahman faded with less than a kilometer to go, it was down to Kogo, True, and Mutai. Kogo made his decisive move on the final, steep uphill that crests with little more than 600 meters remaining.
“I made my final break when I saw the last hill, then I knew when I finish this hill I have a little bit then the finish,” said the experienced Kogo. In that break, he was able to gain a step on True and even more on Mutai, the London Marathon course record holder.
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Sprinting down the final stretch under a large American flag, Kogo claimed the victory in 32:09.1. True was a step behind in 32:11.2.
With the same smile that showed last week when he won the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K, Kogo broke the tape and exclaimed his love for the area.
“I like running here because I love the people along the beach who are so welcoming,” he said. “I want to thank everyone.”
True was just as happy, becoming the highest placing American since 2008, when Meb Keflezighi finished second.
“Kogo jumped me cresting the last hill,” he said. “But it was a good race.”
When told of Kogo’s awe in seeing a white man alongside him towards the end of the race, True laughed and said it was a compliment.
“I’m definitely improving every year and hopefully I’ll be able to come back and win it,” he said.
Mutai wound up third in 32:19.9, followed by Abdirahman in fourth, timing 32:28.4.
“I made a mistake on the two hills. The first I thought was the last so I went for broke and I broke and turned and then said, ‘Ahhh!’” admitted Abdirahman, talking about why he faded in the final stretch. “That’s OK though, I was happy with my performance.”
Bruce, of Flagstaff, Ariz., rounded out the top five, timing 32:44.0.