Sambu clocks 22:01 en route to victory, setting an 8K world record.
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
BOSTON — Under bright sunny skies and with conditions perfect for racing, Kenya’s Stephen Sambu and Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska raced their way to world leading times at the fourth annual B.A.A. 10K on Sunday. Sambu, 25, set a world best for 8 kilometers before clocking 27:25 at the finish, while Daska’s time of 31:04 is an event record and world leader as well.
Sambu vs. Mutai
After an opening mile of 4:30, Sambu was joined by Geoffrey Mutai—the 2011 Boston Marathon victor, two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and fastest marathoner of all time—out front. It was the second year in a row that Sambu found himself with a marathon champion, as in 2013 he dueled with 2012 Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa.
Brimming with confidence derived from a win at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K (27:39) and a 26:54.61 10,000m personal best at the Prefontaine Classic, Sambu pushed through 5K in 13:57 with Mutai and fellow Kenyan Daniel Salel alongside.
After Salel began to drop, Sambu and Mutai continued to duel through the fourth mile, reaching the official 8 kilometer timing mat at nearly the exact time: 22:01.03 and 22:01.10, respectively. With his time split, Sambu broke the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) 8-kilometer world record of 22:03 (22:02.2), set by Peter Githuka in 1996 at the Crazy 8′s 8K in Kingsport, Tennessee (the IAAF does not ratify records at this distance, but USA Track & Field does).
But Sambu wasn’t about to settle after achieving the record. In fact, he wasn’t aware he’d broken the record until after the race’s conclusion.
“Our plan from the beginning was to make the pace high,” he said. “I didn’t even know we set the record for 8K [during the race].”
Sambu and Mutai would remain together until less than a mile remained. On Commonwealth Avenue, Sambu started to edge away from his compatriot, ultimately making the final turn with a comfortable lead.
Stopping the clock at 27:25, Sambu had run the fastest 10K on the roads this year and a personal best by 14 seconds. His time, however, fell six seconds short of Mutai’s event record set in 2011.
“After 8K I knew I still had to run 2K so I thought ‘let me increase the pace’ because I was just thinking about finishing,” he said. “It’s really good, it makes me feel good.”
Finishing second was Mutai, 27:35 his time. Mutai, who had won this race twice, said he hasn’t sharpened himself on the track recently, and that was why he couldn’t match Sambu’s speed.
“I am still not already in my [peak] shape,” said Mutai. “I know that I still have more training because when I see that my races are coming [ahead, likely referring to a fall marathon] I still have more time to train. For me I was not ready in my shape.”
Rounding out the top three was Salel in 27:41, while Sommerville, Mass.’s Bo Waggoner—a Duke University graduate—was the top American in tenth (30:48).
With his victory, Sambu becomes the second man to win back-to-back B.A.A. 10K titles, a feat Mutai accomplished in 2011 and 2012. Sambu’s coach, James Li, believes even faster times are in his future.
“I think he can run a little bit faster still. He’s still young at this, relatively,” said Li, who has coached Sambu since his days at the University of Arizona. “He’s an awesome runner, very steady.”
Course Record For Daska
On the women’s side, Daska became the first two-time B.A.A. 10K champion in race history. Making a decisive move in the final mile, Daska went on to win in 31:04, shattering Kim Smith’s previous event record of 31:36.
In the opening mile, Daska established her intent to win the $10,000 first place prize. Pushing the pace with Kenyans Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton and Betsy Saina by her side, Daska went through two miles in 9:47.
Tuliamuk-Bolton and Saina, who starred in college at Wichita State and Iowa State, led the way at 5 kilometers in 15:34, with Daska a second behind. The three would trade leads throughout the race.
Biding her time and saving energy, Daska sat back while her Kenyan counterparts tried to break up the group in the fourth and fifth miles. Not letting the hard surges get to her, Daska kept the podium on her mind.
“I know that all the runners are good runners and I have confidence I am going to win. But in the meantime, I was watching them and making sure they weren’t going to push and pass me,” she said through a translator. “I am so happy my strategy worked.”
Daska made the winning move with one mile to go, creating a gap that would grow to six seconds by the finish. With a time of 31:04, Daska finished with the fastest 10K time in the world this year, setting an event record and personal best in the process.
“I didn’t expect to run this kind of fast race today,” said Daska with a bright smile across her face. “I am so happy I won.”
Daska considered the victory extra meaningful because she thinks of Boston as a second home.
“I love Boston. Coming back, Boston is always an honor for me. Even though what happened last year, everyone knows. Coming to Boston is like a hometown, always people encouraging me, so I am happy that I won again,” she said.
Daska earned a $7,500 event record bonus in addition to her $10,000 first place prize.
“I am thrilled and so happy, I have no words to explain.”
Saina and Tuliamuk-Bolton would finish second and third in 31:10 and 31:52, rounding out the podium. Boston Athletic Association team member Jen Rhines, 39, was the top American in eighth, 33:45 her time.
The B.A.A. 10K—the second race of the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley—saw 6,619 finishers, an event record. Of the 6,623 starters, only four were unable to finish.