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Keitany Blitzes NY’s Mini 10K Course

KEITANY CRUISES TO OAKLEY NEW YORK MINI 10-K WIN
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

NEW
YORK (13-June) — Kenya’s Mary Keitany looked as smooth as could be
racing the Oakley New York Mini 10-K here in Central Park, maintaining
a blistering pace to earn a commanding victory in 31:15 despite warm
and humid conditions. The 33-year-old simply overpowered a top-notch
field, breaking away in the third mile and never looking back. Her time
is the third fastest in the world thus far this year.

“I think
the race today was good for me because I win the race and the time,”
said Keitany, speaking in a barely audible voice. Clutching a Kenyan
flag, she smiled brightly. “I am happy.”

Bolting from the other
10,000 women behind them Central Park West, Keitany and Kenyan
compatriots Betsy Saina and Edna Kiplagat, as well as “local” Ethiopian
Etaferahu Temesgen, would congregate at the front of the field. Turning
into Central Park in the third kilometer, the quartet began to move
away from the rest of the elite field.

Hitting the mile in 5:10
and two miles in 10:09, Keitany began to get antsy. Looking as if she
were out for a casual jog, the lithe mother of one increased her tempo
while traversing Central Park’s northern hills. It was her subtle yet
decisive move on an incline that would be the deciding factor in the
race. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, Keitany was all alone
going around the Park’s northern tip, a gap growing from five meters,
to ten, then fifteen.

The consistent pitter-patter of her pink
adidas shoes hitting the pavement was audible from the lead truck, as
were the increasing cheers for Keitany as she hit halfway in 15:38, 15
seconds up on the chase pack that was made up of Saina, Kiplagat, and
Temesgen. Reeling the chasing trio in was Burundi’s Diane Nukuri.

It
was in the race’s second half that Keitany put on a pure show: running
consecutive miles of 5:09, 4:58, and 5:00, Keitany’s cushion grew to a
whopping minute and 15 seconds by the finish. Like a metronome, she’d
cover the rolling terrain without altering her stride, keeping her eyes
down on the pavement and arms swinging like a pendulum. The only time
she broke form was to grab a cup of water in the fourth mile.

Breaking
the tape in 31:15, Keitany became the 12th champion from Kenya in race
history. Keitany also became the fourth women to have won the TCS New
York City Marathon and Oakley New York Mini 10-K in successive years,
joining the likes of Grete Waitz, Liz McColgan, and Tegla Loroupe.

“I
thank God because I have won the race, because I won the marathon last
year and after I come for the Mini 10-K and I run something great. I
wanted to be remembered in New York because it’s not easy to win a race
like this because I know many of my colleagues are champions,” said
Keitany.

With the win, she picked up $10,000.

The
telling stat of the day came from the race’s splits: Keitany’s final
5-K of 15:37 was exactly a minute faster than her closest competitor.
No other athlete in the field covered the second half faster than 16:37.

“The
first 5-K was not so hot, but after 5-K it was getting hotter and I
wanted to go alone after 5-K because I wanted my colleagues to be with
me for the first three miles and then I move on alone,” described the
newly crowned champion. She executed her strategy to perfection.

Compatriot
Saina had hopes that Keitany would come back during the race’s hilly
section, but quickly knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Instead of
chasing after Keitany alone, the Iowa State alum led the second pack
charge with Kiplagat and Temesgen on her heals.

“I knew she was
tough. I’ve been watching her since I was in college, and coming here
to race with her I was like I wanted to beat her so bad,” she said with
a chuckle. “She’s tough and she’s strong and I like competing with her.
It was very good to run with her for the first 5-K.”

Separating
in the final miles, Saina went on to take second in 32:30. Kiplagat was
third in 32:39, with Nukuri –having caught Temesgen– fourth in 32:47.
Temesgen was a surprising fifth, 32:50 her time.

“It was very
good to help them and race with them,” said Saina, who will head back
to Kenya tomorrow to race in the National Championships 10,000m, hoping
to qualify for the World Championships. “It’s good. It’s a huge race
for me because it just made me feel like I’m back again.”

Earning
top American honors was Brianne Nelson, the 34-year-old from Golden,
Colo. Nelson was very happy with her sixth place, 33:07 showing,
raising her arms in jubilation at the finish.

“I knew it was
going to be a hot day and I knew it was going to be fast, so I was
prepared to hurt the whole entire way from the start,” said Nelson,
draped in an American flag. “I just kept pushing the whole entire way.
I actually love the hills, so I knew that once I got into the Park that
that was my strength and I just pushed every uphill and down and kept
plugging away.”

With her main goal being the 2016 USA Olympic
Trials Marathon, Nelson is choosing to sharpen her speed by doing
shorter distance races on the roads this summer. “It’s an amazing
feeling. You don’t get to be the top American very often for me, so
this is huge, a big deal!” she added.

Other notable finishers
included Ireland’s Mary Cullen (eighth in 33:24), American Blake
Russell (10th in 33:31), and Boston Marathon champion Caroline Rotich
11th in 33:32. She was followed across the line by Rkia El Moukim
(33:40) and Serena Burla (33:47).

Great Britain’s Gemma Steel
was among the second chase pack through roughly two miles, though wound
up dropping out of the race due to illness. Also unable to finish was
Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba.

PHOTO: Mary Keitany wins the 2015 Oakley New York Mini 10-K in 31:15

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