Aaron Braun leads the American charge.
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This week, the Boston Athletic Association announced the elite field for Sunday’s B.A.A. Half-Marathon presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund. In addition to Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa and Gebre Gebremariam, who were announced last week, B.A.A. Distance Medley leader Stephen Sambu, reigning champion Allan Kiprono, and fellow compatriots Daniel Salel and Lani Rutto will be running the 13th edition of the race, which takes competitors through Boston’s Jamaica Plain and Dorchester neighborhoods. American-based athletes Aaron Braun, Sam Chelanga, and Jeff Eggleston will also be racing.
On the women’s side, reigning champion and current B.A.A. Distance Medley leader Kim Smith highlights a field that includes Millicent Kuria and Alice Kimutai, both of Kenya, and Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros. Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz and Katie Matthews head the American charge.
While Desisa, this year’s Boston Marathon champion, and Gebremariam, twice third in the Hopkinton-to-Boston marathon, lead the field with the fastest personal bests (59:30 and 1:00:25, respectively), the steady stream of athletes listed above could challenge for the win on a good day.
If Sambu holds on to his lead in the B.A.A. Distance Medley standings, the six-time NCAA All-American at Arizona will earn a hefty $100,000, the largest non-marathon prize in road racing. Reigning champion and course record holder Kiprono sits second just 25 seconds behind entering the final leg of the three-race Medley series, which awards $100,000 to the male and female with the lowest cumulative time between April’s B.A.A. 5-K, June’s B.A.A. 10-K, and October’s B.A.A. Half Marathon.
Fellow Kenyan Chelanga, who now trains in Hanover, N.H., has experience on his side, having placed in the top three in each of the last two years at the B.A.A. Half Marathon.
New Zealand’s Smith, 31, will look to become only the second women’s champion in race history to claim victory in consecutive years. The three-time Olympian has the fastest personal best in the field by nearly two minutes over Kiros. Smith is also going for her second straight B.A.A. Distance Medley crown; she has a one minute, 11 second lead on Kuria.
Speaking with Race Results Weekly last month, Smith emphasized what it would mean to win the B.A.A. Distance Medley after having an injury plagued summer that saw her unable to compete at the IAAF World Championships.
“Anytime you can win it’s a big deal,” said Smith, who will also run November’s ING New York City Marathon. “One of my aims for the year was to do that in the series. I’ve been putting a lot of hard work in to it so hopefully it pays off!”
The B.A.A. Half Marathon begins in Boston’s Franklin Park and takes athletes along the Emerald Necklace Park system. A prize purse totaling $38,400 is up for grabs, not including the B.A.A. Distance Medley awards of $100,000. Course records stand at 1:01:44 for men (Allan Kiprono, 2012) and 1:10:52 for women (Caroline Rotich, 2010).