World Record Holder Komon Leads Healthy Kidney 10K Field

Leonard Patrick Komon broke the Central Park 10K record in 2011, a mark that still stands. Photo: Jane Monti | Race Results Weekly

Prague Half Marathon winner Joyce Chepkirui headlines the inaugural women’s field.

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission. 

Celebrating its 10th edition, the New York Road Runners announced a fast field for Saturday’s UAE Healthy Kidney 10K, featuring world record holder and two-time champion Leonard Patrick Komon and Prague Half Marathon winner Joyce Chepkirui, both of Kenya. The race, which is run on a certified one-loop course in Central Park, will feature a women’s professional field for the first time. The winners can earn a whopping $55,000 for setting a Central Park 10K record.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K, which is highlighted by the race’s first-ever women’s professional field,” NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg said in a statement. “This is always a special race, as many of the world’s top long-distance athletes join thousands of runners of all abilities to support the National Kidney Foundation. It’s an inspiring day for everyone.”

Komon, 26, returns to New York seeking his third title. In 2011, he won with an event record time of 27:35. After a furious start in 2013 that saw him take off in two consecutive 4:18 miles and pass 5K in 13:40, Komon slowed in the second half, yet still won with a time of 27:58.

“I’m happy to come back to my favorite city in the U.S. and to make a hat trick in a new course record at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K,” said Komon in a statement provided by race organizers. “Let’s cross fingers for a great day!”

Among those joining Komon on the start line will be Stephen Sambu, Sam Chelanga, and Collis Birmingham. Sambu, 25, was third at last year’s UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in a personal best of 28:02. Less than two months ago, the University of Arizona alum raced his way to a third place finish at the 2014 NYC Half. All three men have run sub-27:30 for 10,000m on the track. Kenyan Kevin Kochei, second at last Sunday’s Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K, will also take part in his first-ever race in New York City.

RELATED: Komon Wins 2013 Healthy Kidney 10K

Both Chelanga and Birmingham have also had success in Manhattan, with the Australian finishing second at the 2013 NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K (13:45.7) and the Kenyan finishing fifth at last year’s UAE Healthy Kidney 10K (28:29).

Italy’s Daniele Meucci—who finished fourth at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10,000m on Sunday in 27:36.53—is also racing. He won the race in 2012. Morocco’s Mourad Marofit, who won the Blue Cross Broad Street Run 10 Mile last Sunday, is also in the field.

Leading the inaugural women’s elite field is Chepkirui, this year’s Prague Half Marathon winner and course record holder. Chepkirui, 25, has the fastest personal best entering Sunday’s race at 30:37.

“Some races are run out of preparation and in full training, and some for fun,” said Chepkirui. “Some races are run for excellence, and it is an honor to compete in a city that runs and jogs so well.”

Chepkirui is already eying the lucrative prize purse offered at the event: $25,000 is given to both the men’s and women’s winner, while a $30,000 Zayed Bonus, awarded by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in honor of former UAE president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, will be given to the first man to break 27:35 (Komon’s 2011 event record) and/or the first woman to break 30:44 (Lornah Kiplagat’s New York Mini 10K course record from 2002).

“With the 10th edition of the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K and the first-ever invited women’s field, I couldn’t be happier to take part and do my best,” said Chepkirui. “I am looking forward to competing well and breaking 30:44, and earning the $30,000 Zayed Bonus in one of the top events for distance and road running.”

RELATED: Chepkirui Wins 2013 Falmouth Road Race

Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka and Mamitu Daska, as well as Kenyans Mary Wacera, Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, and Risper Gesabwa, will all vie for the winners platform and podium. American Delilah DiCrescenzo, a New York City resident, and Morocco’s Rkia El Moukim round out the women’s elite field.

Burka is a four-time world championships medalist, while Wacera earned a silver medal at the 2014 IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon Championships in Denmark (she also won last Sunday’s Lilac Bloomsday Run 12-K). In February she won the World’s Best 10K in Puerto Rico, besting a field that included Gladys Cherono, Linet Masai, and Chepkirui (fifth in 32:32).

Daska is familiar with the streets of Central Park, having won last year’s edition of the all-women’s Oakley New York Mini 10K. On April 19, she placed second to Molly Huddle at the B.A.A. 5K in a personal best of 15:14.

Gesabwa, 25, is the only other woman in the field aside from Chepkirui, Burka, Daska, and Wacera to dip under 32:00 for 10K on the roads. Her best stands at 31:43.

The women’s event record is 33:09, set by Buzunesh Deba in 2010.

In 2013, the UAE Healthy Kidney saw 5,851 finishers, down from a race record 7,918 in 2012. Race Results Weekly will be on hand to provide exclusive coverage of the UAE Healthy Kidney from New York City.

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