Mutai, Kipyego Victorious at NYC Half
Farah stumbles, Mutai wins NYC Half convincingly; Sally Kipyego runs to a record in women's race
Posted Monday, 17 March, 2014
NEW YORK – What had shaped up as a potential preview of next month’s Virgin London Marathon ended less than halfway through the race and turned into a solo time trial triumph for Geoffrey Mutai at the ninth running of the NYC Half on Sunday, March 16. The Kenyan, who has won the previous two editions (2011 and 2013) of the New York City Marathon, showed he’s a master of the Big Apple streets at half the distance as well, as he threw together a string of miles in the 4:30 range to outdistance a stellar field on a chilly (31F) and somewhat breezy morning in Manhattan.
Britain’s Mo Farah, the double World and Olympic champion at 5000 and 10,000 meters, who will face Mutai when he makes his marathon debut in London on April 13, never really got a chance to test himself against the Kenyan, tripping and falling hard during the sixth mile of the race, as the lead pack of eight men raced down the same hill in Central Park that Mutai (right, courtesy NYRR) has ascended in the opposite direction in both his marathon victories. Farah quickly sprang back up and gave chase – “It’s just something that happens in running, no big deal,” he said. “I knew I had to try to make up the gap gradually, but it was hard.”
That’s because, whether by coincidence or plan, Mutai was dropping a 4:25 mile on the field, after they’d run the admittedly hillier section of the point-to-point course nearly 20 seconds a mile slower.
“It was cold, and it took a while for my body to warm up,” he said. I had hoped to run around 59 minutes, and when I saw the 5 kilometer time I knew we had to push to run a fast time.”
Mutai kept the pace fast over the next two miles, down 7th Avenue through Times Square and then along 42nd Street into a cold headwind off the Hudson, and in so doing dropped his final companion, countryman Stephen Sambu. For the final five miles down the West Side Highway and beneath the Battery, Mutai looked as nonplussed as someone out for a marathon training tempo run, which the final miles might as well have been for him as he ran to a comfortable 17-second victory in 1:00:50.
Meanwhile Farah was closing down the gap on Sambu, eventually catching him with 800 meters to go and holding off a final counterattack to eke out a one-second margin in 1:01:07. Farah’s chase left him “seeing stars” and so spent he collapsed at the finish, before reviving quickly.
Matt Tegenkamp, winner of the previous two years’ USA 20K titles, made his debut over the slightly longer distance a relatively successful one, placing seventh in 1:02:04. “I came here to get a feel for running a fast race against an international field,” he said. “I really only made one bad decision, letting the lead pack get away,” he said. “So I spent the second half of the race running with the next group through about 10 miles, taking turns setting the pace.”
The women’s race remained competitive longer, as Sally Kipyego, Molly Huddle, and New Yorker Buzunesh Deba, runnerup at last year’s marathon, ran together almost to the nine mile point. The first two were both venturing into uncharted racing territory, and with some trepidation.
“My longest run is 14 miles, so I knew that was cutting it pretty close,” said Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic 10,000 silver medalist. “Overall, I think it went better than I expected. I knew I was going to hurt the last few miles, and I was, but not as bad as I thought it might.”
Huddle, whose longest road race had been a world record-setting run over 12 km last November, concurred, although for her the pain was as bad as she’d feared.
As Kipyego pulled away to a race record 1:08:31 (the event was contested over a new, and some felt more challenging, layout this year), Huddle dropped back and was passed by Deba in the final stretch, 1:08:59 to 1:09:04. “I hoped to run around 69 minutes,” said Huddle, the American record holder for 5,000 meters on the track. “Now I want to run a fast 10,000 at Stanford in April, then concentrate on the 5,000 for the rest of the summer.”
Behind them, some 20,000 runners, the largest field in the event’s history, started in three waves beginning at 7:30 a.m. and continued to stream into the southern tip of Manhattan for hours after the leaders had finished.
9th NYC Half
New York, NY, Sunday, March 16, 2014
1 Geoffrey Mutai 32 ADID KEN 1:00:50
2 Mo Farah 30 NIKE GBR 1:01:07
3 Stephen Sambu 25 KEN 1:01:08
4 Juan Luis Barrios 30 NIKE MEX 1:01:46
5 Aschalew Nigusse 26 AODF ETH 1:01:47
6 Mengistu Tabor Nebsi 36 WSX ETH 1:02:04
7 Matt Tegenkamp 32 NIKE OR 1:02:04
8 Arne Gabius 32 NIKE GER 1:02:09
9 Ikuto Yufu 22 KOMA JPN 1:02:50
10 Meb Keflezighi 38 NYAC CA 1:02:53
11 Jacob Riley 26 HBDP MI 1:02:56
12 Takashi Ichida 21 JPN 1:03:11
1 Sally Kipyego 28 OTC KEN 1:08:31
2 Buzunesh Deba 26 NIKE ETH 1:08:59
3 Molly Huddle 29 SAUC RI 1:09:04
4 Lisa Stublic 29 NYAC CRO 1:09:36
5 Caroline Kilel 32 ADID KEN 1:10:00
6 Diane Nukuri-Johnson 29 ASIC BDI 1:10:09
7 Desiree Linden 30 HBDP MI 1:11:37
8 Hilda Kibet 32 ADID NED 1:11:37
9 Etaferahu Temesgen 24 WSX MD 1:11:49
10 Adriana Nelson 34 ASIC CO 1:11:50
11 Askale Merachi 27 WSX NY 1:12:19
12 Krista Duchene 37 SAUC CAN 1:12:26
Find full race results at: http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/2014/nyc-half