Shalane Flanagan finishes second, Sean Quigley places seventh to finish as top Americans.
Early in women’s elite race of Monday’s Bolder Boulder 10K, Shalane Flanagan had to make a decision: Keep pushing on the heels of Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska or back off ever-so-slightly and reduce the risk of blowing up late in the race.
After Deena Kastor set the tone with a fast 800 meters to start the race, Daska, the 2012 Bolder Boulder champion, took the lead and put the hammer down. She had already strung out the pack of women in the International Team Challenge when she came through the first mile in 5:01. Flanagan, Kastor and Kenya’s Risper Gesabwa led the next bunch of runners at 5:07, but only Flanagan surged forward to possibly challenge Daska, an experienced road racer who owns a 2:21:59 marathon PR.
Flanagan remained within about 7 seconds through 2 miles, but by the time Daska hit the 5K mark in 16:05, Flanagan was 14 seconds back. Although Flanagan kept running strong on the course that winds through Boulder neighborhoods and business districts before finishing at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field, Daska surged through the second half alone to finish in a near-record effort of 32:21.6. Flanagan was second in 33:05.11 while Gesabwa was a distant third in 33:39.25.
Flanagan, racing for the first time since she finished seventh at the April 21 Boston Marathon in a huge PR of 2:22:02, hasn’t raced at Boulder’s high elevation (5,430 feet) and hasn’t trained at altitude recently. It didn’t help that temperatures had risen into the 70s by the time the elite races had started.
“I was close to my max and I didn’t want to lose it for the team,” said Flanagan, who was born in Boulder and lived there until she was 6. “There was a point where I wanted to make sure I could finish strong and not lose and spots for the sake of being selfish about my own racing aspirations. I don’t train at altitude but I know how it can jump on your back and all of a sudden you can feel like you’re carrying around a 200-pound weight on your back. But I didn’t want that for our team, so I was a little cautious.”
Kastor, who turned 41 in March, turned in one of the day’s best performances, finishing fourth in 33:58.97. The three-time Bolder Boulder champion (2001-2003) trains at altitude in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and has always raced well at altitude in Boulder.
“I went out aggressively thinking I could take the sting out of others early on, but I think I took the sting out of myself instead,” she said. “It was a rough race for me. It hurt. It definitely hurt.”
Flanagan, Kastor and Sara Hall (16th, 35:25.26) helped Team USA Red finish third in the team standings behind Ethiopia and Kenya. Hall ran to near-exhaustion and sat in a wheelchair briefly after the race as Flanagan and Kastor poured water over her head to cool her off.
“When you have the team aspect, it brings something out of you,” Kastor said. “It’s similar to how runners run personal bests within relays. The team aspect is something that definitely got the best out of me today and I think that’s true for Shalane and Sara, too. It was all about the team effort today.”
PHOTOS: 2014 Bolder Boulder 10K
Eritrea’s Afewerki Berhane won the men’s elite race in 29:11.37, edging two-time defending champion Allan Kiprono of Kenya by a second and a half. Sean Quigley was the top American, finishing seventh overall in 30:04.67. Ryan Hall was next in ninth place in 30:12.97.
Eritrea won the men’s team competition, followed by Ethiopia and Team USA Red (Hall, Bobby Curtis and Luke Puskedra).
In the citizen’s race, which included more than 45,000 finishers, Scott Dahlberg, 29, of Fort Collins, outran Andy Wacker, 25, to claim a 6-second victory in 30:50.00. The women’s citizen’s race winner was Sarah Crouch, 24, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., who finished in 35:11.72.
Joshua George won the men’s wheelchair race in 23:07, while Amanda McGrory won the women’s wheelchair race in 26:59.
For complete results, go to BolderBoulder’s Results Page.