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Sally Kipyego Sets Record at NYC Half

KIPYEGO SETS EVENT RECORD, MUTAI CLAIMS COMFORTABLE WIN AT NYC HALF
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

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

NEW
YORK (16-Mar) — Kenyans swept the top spots at today’s NYC Half, as
Sally Kipyego and Geoffrey Mutai claimed runaway victories in 1:08:31
and 1:00:50, respectively, in very cold conditions. Kipyego, a member
of the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite racing in her debut half-marathon,
clocked a new event record by four seconds.

“It went fantastic.
I knew I was fit coming in but just because it was a new distance I
didn’t really know how it was going to turn out,” Kipyego told WABC-TV
moments after winning. “I’m just so glad that I got my first win in the
half-marathon on the streets of New York.”

Through the opening
kilometers of the women’s race, Kipyego was joined by American Molly
Huddle, Great Britain’s Gemma Steel, Croatia’s Lisa Stublic, and
Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba. Together the pack would run up and down the
hills of Central Park.

Leaving the park just before the 10-K
mark, Kipyego and Huddle had established themselves out front, somewhat
of a surprise considering both were racing their first half-marathons.
Tagging along was Deba, last year’s TCS New York City Marathon
runner-up.

After turning onto the West Side Highway, Kipyego
began to pull away just before the ten mile mark (about 16 km). Running
side by side with a pair of men, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at
10,000m extended her lead with each step taken towards Lower Manhattan.

“It
was very good. I think it was a little of everything, the last bit of
it was a little bit downhill so I think that helped a lot,” she said.
“The last three miles were painful.”

Kipyego approached the
finish with no one in sight, breaking the tape with a beaming smile and
her hands in the air in 1:08:31. Kipyego dipped under Firehiwot Dado’s
event record of 1:08:35 by four seconds which was set on a slightly
different course.

Kipyego said she sees a future in the event, though for the time being she’ll return to the track.

“I
look forward to maybe going into the marathon in the future, but for
right now I’ll go back to track and see how the summer goes.”

Rounding out the top three were Deba, second in 1:08:59 (a new personal best by 54 seconds), with Huddle third in 1:09:04.

“It
was good. I think I stuck my nose in it in the beginning and the
distance got to me a little in the end, but it was definitely a fun
experience. I definitely want to do another one,” said Huddle, 29. “It
was what I expected. I knew the last three miles would be my
questionable, uncomfortable zone, and it was, so I think I can work on
that and definitely get better at it.”

Placing seventh overall,
second among Americans, was Desiree (Davila) Linden in 1:11:37. She
will race the Boston Marathon on April 21.

FARAH FALLS HARD

The
men’s race really got going when Geoffrey Mutai began pushing out front
shortly beyond 5 kilometers. When Mutai took control of the pace,
double Olympic champion Mo Farah immediately responded, shedding his
outer layer and moving into Mutai’s slipstream. Also tagging along was
Kenya’s Stephen Sambu, a training partner of Bernard Lagat.

In
a scene reminiscent of the 2011 NYC Half –a race in which Farah won–
a mid-race fall in Central Park would mix things up. Farah, running
close on the leader’s heels between miles five and six (8 km to 10 km),
got tangled up and fell hard to the ground. Losing about 20 meters,
Farah returned to his feet only to see Mutai and Sambu having broken
away out front.

Mutai’s sudden surge wasn’t a direct result of Farah’s fall, the athlete said.

“Together,
my colleague, we were leading in the front. We didn’t –we only knew
someone fell down, but we did not know who was that. So we continue
with our pace,” said Mutai. “We did not know. We come to realize later
in the finishing that it was Mo. Unfortunately, we were disappointed
because we were expecting a challenge from him.”

After passing
through Times Square together, Mutai broke from Sambu thanks to a quick
4:25 mile split. Sporting a long sleeve shirt to fight off the biting
cold, Mutai continued to open up his stride down the West Side Highway.

Cruising to the win in 1:00:50 Mutai, like Kipyego, earned $20,000 for finishing first.

“For
me, as I was continuing alone, I tried to push it, and I know I was
testing my body,” said Mutai, who will race the Virgin Money London
Marathon in four weeks. “I know I had good training. So for me, I do
not mind where I was in the race. For me, I was testing my body. When I
am in a race, I’m focusing for that race. I’m not only looking for my
colleagues as I know, when someone is strong, we’ll push it together.
But for me, I’m running my own race all the time.”

With his NYC
Half win, Mutai now has three major victories in the Big Apple: in 2011
he won the TCS New York City Marathon in a course record of 2:05:06,
returning last year to claim the top spot once again in 2:08:24.

While
Mutai led out front in the race’s latter stages, Farah put in a valiant
effort to catch back up to Sambu. In the Battery Park Tunnel, Farah
drew even, eventually passing for second in the final 105-meter
straight to the finish line. It was a remarkable recovery given how
hard he had fallen.

“Yeah, I’m not sure what happened. I just
remember falling down and hit the ground quite hard,” Farah told
reporters. “At that point, I just wanted to get back up and get behind,
get with the group.”

Moments after crossing the line in
1:01:07, Farah collapsed at the finish line, and received immediate
medical attention. He was taken to the medical tent in a wheelchair,
but was able to walk under his own steam when he left the recovery area.

“I
don’t remember passing out, but I think it was just I tried so hard in
the race, obviously, taking a fall and then going through,” Farah
recounted. “I’m all right. It’s fine. It’s no big deal.”

Taking third was Sambu in 1:01:08. Matt Tegenkamp was the top American, sixth in 1:02:04; it was his debut half-marathon.

“I
thought I was in really good fitness coming in. I was a little
disappointed just — I mean, we lost probably 40 seconds in the first
2.5 miles of the race,” said Tegenkamp. “By mile eleven, I started
really cramping up, my right side, but like I’m glad I’ve run a
marathon before because I knew it was just kind of the bad patch of the
race, just check off a little bit, regroup. And I still felt really
strong all the way into the finish, felt like I had a really strong
finish, was able to change gears. I think there’s a lot of exciting
things to look forward to in 2014.”

Meb Keflezighi, who led briefly early in the race, finished tenth in 1:02:53. He’ll be racing the Boston Marathon next month.

This was the 9th, and largest, edition of the NYC Half. The New York Road Runners reported a record 20,750 finishers.

PHOTO:
Sally Kipyego just after winning the 2014 NYC Half in an event record
1:08:31

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