Kamais, Yamauchi Win NYC Half-Marathon
Event record 11,493 finishers at 5th edition; women’s winner sets
By Jim Gerweck, Running USA
NEW YORK – (March 21, 2010) – It was perhaps fitting on an
opening weekend of an NCAA basketball tournament filled with upsets, that a
relatively unheralded entrant in the 5th NYC Half-Marathon should steal
the limelight from the more famous and favored competitors in the race.
Kenyan Peter Kamais ran his own race, pushing a
punishing pace on the opening 8-mile loop of Manhattan’s Central Park that
dropped a two-time ING New York City Marathon champ, several U.S. Olympians and
the defending World Cross Country champion. By the time he exited the park onto
Seventh Avenue, the tall, long-striding Kamais had only one challenger left – a
figure who, while far shorter in stature, far overshadowed the Kenyan in honors
won. That would be Haile Gebrselassie, the two-time Olympic 10,000 meter
champion from Ethiopia, setter of 25 world records, who was returning to New
York for the first time since he won this race in 2007 in a course record 59
minutes, 24 seconds.
Gebrselassie was the marquee entrant in the field, and smart
money would have bet that he was merely using Kamais as a stalking horse,
letting him do the pacesetting work through the tougher part of the course
before pulling away on the drag strip West Side Highway for the win. But then,
most people had picked Kansas in the NCAA brackets, and we all saw how that
worked out against Northern Iowa.
In a move that was as sudden as it was stunning, Gebrselassie
stepped off the course between 52nd and 53rd Streets, stopping to gather himself
before resuming, at a much slower pace, before finally withdrawing at the
medical station at 9 miles. Suffering from flu-like symptoms in the days leading
up to the race, Gebrselassie said afterward the dust and pollen in the park,
partially the result of spring-like weather that had blanketed the area the
previous week, triggered an asthma attack that caused his breathing to grow
almost instantly constricted, and he was not able to get it under control.
“What can you do?” he shrugged afterward, realizing that
sometimes nature can’t be beaten.
Of course, Kamais was happy to enjoy a solo time trial the
last 4 miles, no matter how he achieved it.
“I never thought I would win – Haile is too strong,” said the
33-year-old who pocketed $20,000.
Kamais’ victory shouldn’t be viewed lightly even if it was
achieved by default; his 59:53 winning time, 45 seconds ahead of countryman
Moses Kigen Kipkosgei, was the second-fastest in the race’s history.
Kipkosgei outsprinted the top American, Mohamed
Trafeh, who had run much of the race in third place after the large early
lead pack disintegrated on the park’s tough north hills.
“I had a little too much confidence in my finish,” said
Trafeh, who just last week won his first national championship at the Gate River
15K. “Now, I’d like to capitalize on my fitness on the track and run some really
fast 5000 and 10,000 meter times.”
The women’s race witnessed no upsets like the men, but was no
less thrilling. Deena Kastor, 37, tuning up for the Virgin London
Marathon next month, took off at course record pace, hitting the first mile in
“I wanted to run aggressively, and test my fitness,” she
said, admitting that she too was beset by a head cold. “My nose was running like
The early pace left her main challenger, Britain’s Mara
Yamauchi, in the slipstream. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s too fast, I guess
I’ll just try to run strong through the hills and see what it gets me,'” said
Yamauchi, 36, soon found herself in a battle with Mexico’s
Madai Perez, returning to a major road race since the birth of her
daughter last May.
“We were pushing each other, and as we came out of the park,
I could see Deena ahead, so I motioned Madai that we should work together to try
and catch her,” continued Yamauchi.
Perez eventually dropped off, but Yamauchi caught Kastor
around 11 miles and pulled away for an 18-second victory, breaking Catherine
Ndereba‘s 2006 course record by the same margin. Kastor, who equaled the
mark, said she was heartened by her run.
“Of course, it would have been nicer to win, but this gives
me a lot of confidence going into London,” said 2004 Olympic bronze medalist.
“Last year (when she finished seventh in 1:13:48) I was testing my confidence
that I had recovered from my foot injury and could run hard. Today I was testing
my ability to race.”
When asked about her goals for London, where she’ll have a
rematch with Yamauchi, Kastor said aggressive running will once again be her
m̩tier. “First things first,” she said. “My first goal is to win – if it results
in a PR, even better.”
This was the race’s first running in the spring, after four
different dates in late summer that often resulted in runners facing bigger
challenges from the elements than other racers. In contrast, today brought
almost perfect conditions: 53 degrees and dry, resulting in PRs for many of the
11,493 finishers, the most in the event’s history.
5th NYC Half-Marathon
York, NY, Sunday, March 21, 2010
1) Peter Kamais (KEN), 59:53, $20,000
Kigen Kipkosgei (KEN) 1:00:38, $10,000
3) Mohamed Trafeh (USA / CA), 1:00:39,
4) Bekana Daba (ETH), 1:01:23, $3500
5) Shadrack Kiptoo Biwott
(KEN), 1:01:52, $2500
6) Josh Rohatinsky (USA / OR), 1:01:55, $1500
Alistair Cragg (IRL), 1:01:58, $1000
8) Samuel Ndereba (KEN), 1:02:55,
9) Marilson Gomes Dos Santos (BRA), 1:02:57, $500
10) Tesfaye Girma
(ETH), 1:03:12, $400
11) Anthony Famiglietti (USA / NY), 1:03:18, $300
Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR), 1:03:29, $250
1) Mara Yamauchi (GBR), 1:09:25*, $20,000
Deena Kastor (USA / CA), 1:09:43, $10,000
3) Madai Perez (MEX), 1:09:45,
4) Irene Limika (KEN), 1:10:55, $3500
5) Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN),
6) Bruna Genovese (ITA), 1:12:55, $1500
7) Heidi Westover
(USA / MA), 1:13:25, $1000
8) Aziza Aliyu (ETH), 1:13:34, $750
Meyerhoff (USA / OR), 1:13:58, $500
10) Catherine Mullen (USA / NY), 1:14:48,
11) Hirut Mandefro (ETH), 1:15:30, $300
12) Salome Kosgei (KEN),
*course record (previous, 1:09:43, Catherine Ndereba (KEN),
Event results, photos, video and more at: www.NYRR.org