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Six Storylines to B.A.A. 10K

SIX STORYLINES – 2014 B.A.A. 10-K
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

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

(18-Jun)
— In advance of Sunday’s B.A.A. 10-K, Race Results Weekly breaks down
six storylines going into the fast race through Boston’s Back Bay
neighborhood. The second event of the Boston Athletic Association’s
Distance Medley series, the B.A.A. 10-K is in its fourth year.

1. MUTAI IS THE MAN:
In
2011, Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai made history on the roads of Boston,
becoming the fastest marathoner of all time with a 2:03:02 victory at
the 115th Boston Marathon. Enjoying the city so much, he’d return two
months later to dominate the inaugural B.A.A. 10-K in 27:19, a personal
best mark that still is the event record.

“For me it was like a
dream, because I can win the Boston Marathon and then I come to win the
B.A.A. 10-K. I feel like I am special now in Boston. I feel like I am
at home, I enjoy myself in Boston,” Mutai said then. He’d return in
2012 to successfully defend his title in 27:29.

Now
32-years-old, Mutai is an even more decorated athlete, having won the
2011 and 2013 TCS New York City Marathons, setting a course record of
2:04:15 in the latter.

One question begs to be answered: Can
Mutai keep up with the 10-K specialists entered in the field, such as
Kenyan compatriot Stephen Sambu. On May 24, Mutai ran 28:09 for 10-K in
Ottawa, finishing third. He’ll likely need to run faster if he wants to
claim a third win in Boston.

2. SAMBU IS A FORMIDABLE CHALLENGER:
Speaking
of Sambu, if a Mutai vs. Sambu duel plays out in Boston’s Back Bay, it
will surely be a memorable battle. Sambu won last year’s B.A.A. 10-K
over Lelisa Desisa in 28:06, and went on to capture the 2013 B.A.A.
Distance Medley crown. Recently he’s timed 27:39 for 10-K on the roads
–a win over world record holder Leonard Patrick Komon at the UAE
Healthy Kidney 10-K in New York City– and a sizzling 26:54.61
performance on the track at the Prefontaine Classic.

Sambu is
in the best form of his career, also winning the Credit Union Cherry
Blossom 10-Mile in April and placing third by one second to B.A.A. 5-K
champion Dejen Gebremeskel in April.

If Sambu and Mutai mix it
up, it will be somewhat reminiscent of this year’s NYC Half, where both
ran together during the race’s early stages. Mutai would eventually go
on to win in 1:00:50, while Sambu finished third in 1:01:08.

3. GEBREMESKEL MOVES TO THE ROAD:
Not
to be forgotten is Gebremeskel, the Olympic silver medalist at 5000m.
The 24-year-old Ethiopian has twice won the B.A.A. 5-K, which starts
and finishes in the same location as the B.A.A. 10-K.

Although
he has shined at 5-K on the roads this year –winning the Carlsbad 5000
in a world leading 13:13– Gebremeskel is relatively untested over 6.2
miles. According to respected statistics website Tilastopaja.org,
Gebremeskel’s last 10-K contest on the roads came in 2011, when he ran
27:45 for second at the World’s Best 10-K. Last year he was a
disappointing 16th in the IAAF World Championships 10,000m, running
27:51.88.

The question remains can Gebremeskel stay close with
Mutai and Sambu to the end? If he does come out on top, he’ll become
the first Ethiopian to win the B.A.A. 10-K.

4. DASKA LOOKS TO STAY ON TOP:
Ethiopia’s
Mamitu Daska returns to Boston as the leading favorite on the women’s
side, hoping to retain her title from a year ago. Daska has raced often
on the American road racing scene this year, seeming to recover quite
well from week to week. Over the last two months, she’s earned six
podium finishes in six races and has not finished any lower than second
place. Among her wins include the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile
and Bolder BOULDER 10-K.

At the B.A.A. 5-K on April 19, Daska
finished a close second to Molly Huddle. Since then, she’s gone on to
finish runner-up at two highly competitive 10-K’s in New York’s Central
Park: the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K (31:41) and Oakley Women’s 10-K
(31:49).

Always an aggressive racer, Daska very well could try
and replicate her winning strategy from a year ago, when she pulled
away from New Zealand’s Kim Smith in the early miles.

If Daska wins the $10,000 first-place prize, she will become the first woman to win two titles in race history.

5. SAINA & MASAI LOOKING TO CHALLENGE FOR THE WIN:
If
this year’s B.A.A. 5-K was any indication, then Betsy Saina and Linet
Masai look to be Daska’s biggest challengers. Taking fourth and sixth,
Saina and Masai were two and seven seconds behind Daska at the finish
line on April 19.

Saina is coming off a 8:40.65 3000m
performance at the adidas Grand Prix IAAF Diamond League meeting in New
York last Saturday, where she defeated Kalkidan Gezahegne, Sally
Kipyego, Kim Conley, and Julia Bleasdale. Certainly the track speed
could come in handy if she’s battling up front on Sunday.

As for Masai, she has run 32:27 and 32:16 for a pair of 10-K’s since May 18.

6. MORE MONEY ON THE LINE:
New
for 2014 is an enhanced prize money structure for the B.A.A. 10-K.
Similar to last year, the top ten finishers on both the men’s and
women’s sides will take home a slice of the $48,500 purse. However, new
bonus incentives make the race even more lucrative.

If the
men’s winner runs faster than Geoffrey Mutai’s event record of 27:19,
or a women finishes in front of Kim Smith’s 31:36, they will earn an
extra $7,500.

Also offered this year is a bonus incentive for
top finishers of the B.A.A.’s four primary events: the Boston Marathon,
B.A.A. 5-K, B.A.A. 10-K, and B.A.A. Half-Marathon.

If an
athlete wins three of the four aforementioned events, they’ll earn
$50,000. If they win two of the four events, they’ll take home $20,000.

Placing
in the top two at three B.A.A. events will earn you $10,000, while
finishing on the podium at three races gets you $5,000.

NOTE: Race Results Weekly will be on hand providing coverage from the fourth annual B.A.A. 10-K on Sunday, June 22 –Ed.

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