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Kenyans Win Central Park 10K Throwdown

FAMILY MAN ROTICH WINS UAE HEALTHY KIDNEY 10-K
**Cynthia Limo Takes Women’s Title**
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

NEW
YORK (14-May) — Lucas Rotich entered today’s UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K
with extra motivation to win and make his family proud. For the first
time since his newborn son Carson was born two weeks ago, the Kenyan
marathoner laced up his adidas racing shoes destined for victory.
Making good on his promise, Rotich broke from Wilson Chebet in the
final mile, completing the famous Central Park circuit in 28:29. He’ll
return home to Eldoret with a $25,000 winners check, ready to make
Carson smile.

“It was tough, but I was coming here to win. I
had a baby son two weeks ago and his name is Carson, so winning this
race and coming to America, it was nice to win because I dedicated this
race to my little son,” Rotich told Race Results Weekly. “It was such a
nice race.”

From the get-go, New Zealand’s Zane Robertson
headed the charge out front accompanied by Rotich, Chebet, and
Ethiopian Teshome Mekonen. The group passed the mile in 4:30, two miles
in 9:01, and 5-K in 14:00, setting the stage for a battle royal on the
return to Central Park’s southern tip.

Utilizing the tangents
to his advantage, Mekonen surged on each downhill aiming to gain any
possible advantage on his more experienced peers. Yet every time the
Ethiopian managed to gain five meters, he’d be reeled in. Rotich and
Chebet, sporting matching black and white vests, were not about to let
Mekonen run away to victory.

With Robertson eventually falling
back, the remaining trio took turns pushing. First it was Mekonen, then
Chebet, and finally Rotich. No one gave an inch, running step for step
within a stride of one another.

Even at the certified 8 km
split, reached in 22:44, it was anyone’s race. Yet when Mekonen and
Chebet slowly began to show signs of cracking, Rotich was ready to
pounce. Remaining calm, his eyes never left the asphalt and his orange
shoes barely touched the ground. With one kilometer to go, Rotich
played his final hand.

“After the first five kilometers was
up and down, I say ‘lets get it going.’ Before I ran marathons I was a
10,000m guy, so I had experience running 10-K so it was not a big
problem for me,” he said. “I felt comfortable because after 8-K I said
‘it’s just one mile,’ so I had to push to get ahead of the line. I had
to [push] to win.”

That he did, creating a 15 meter gap that
would hold through the tape. Finishing in 28:29, Rotich edged Chebet
for the win by eight seconds (28:37), while Mekonen was third in 28:47.
Robertson took fourth in a distant 29:02.

“Coming here, it
was nice for me. It is so special to win for my family,” Rotich said.
Training alongside reigning Abbott World Marathon Majors champion Eliud
Kipchoge, IAAF World Half-Marathon gold medalist Geoffrey Kamworor, and
marathon ace Bernard Kipyego, Rotich was confident he could take home
the victory here. “I felt good and fit. I have so many nice guys to
train with.”

Chebet rebounded from a disappointing DNF at last
month’s Boston Marathon to take second. “The last few kilometers I was
trying to do my best, but Lucas Rotich came from behind and moved
forward and went strong. I was trying to catch up to him,” he said. “I
can say I am happy for this event because I ran my best. I’m real happy
about it.”

Boulder Track Club’s Alex Monroe was the top American, finishing seventh in 29:54.

CYNTHIA LIMO WILLS HERSELF TO VICTORY OVER MARY WACERA, EDNA KIPLAGAT

A
mere four kilometers into today’s race, Cynthia Limo was not in a good
spot. Surrounded by talent –including fellow IAAF World Championships
Half-Marathon medalist Mary Wacera and 2010 TCS New York City Marathon
champion Edna Kiplagat– Limo couldn’t ignore the fatigue that had been
building within her petite frame.

“I was feeling like I was
very tired and feeling like I was going to drop and not move anymore.
But I say I try myself, that I have to persevere and go with the
group,” Limo told Race Results Weekly.

The true race was only
beginning as the trio passed 5-K in 16:02. Up and down Central Park’s
many hills, the group stuck together like glue. While the others may
have been cruising, Limo was playing a mental game trying to stay
positive. Step by step she willed herself to hang on and compete.

“You
know, sometimes to win a race, it is not only you. There are some
people who push here and there to make the race successful. With Mary
and Edna, they are very strong ladies,” she said. “From 6-K, from 8-K,
I encouraged myself that I have to go. I thought maybe I could finish
on the podium and finish in top three rather than dropping.”

Holding
her position through Central Park’s hills, Limo was somewhat surprised
to see the 800-meters-to-go sign. Considering there were fewer than
three minutes of hard running left, Limo was able to hit another gear
that Wacera and Kiplagat could not match.

“Near the finish,
when I saw 800 meters, that’s when I tried to push. When I pushed at
800 meters no one seemed to follow me step-by-step. That’s when I had
the courage that I had to go for it,” detailed Limo. “As I was coming
up there, 200 meters [left] I looked behind and saw my colleagues, and
by now I was saying ‘Wow it is a good day!”

In her UAE
Healthy Kidney 10-K debut, Limo took care of business by crushing the
uphill second half in 15:37 and finishing first in 31:39. In order to
break the tape, she had to make a quick side-step some ten meters from
the finish to get into the women’s finish lane. It didn’t thwart her
momentum in the slightest.

Wacera was second in 31:51, with Kiplagat the only other women to dip under the 32:00 barrier (31:58), third.

“For
me it is the first time I have been to New York for Healthy Kidney, and
it has been a good day, a good race for me. It is a pleasant day, a
beautiful day, and today’s race was a good race thanks to my
colleagues,” said Limo. “I feel so happy, I can’t even tell you.”

Runner-up Wacera gave credit to Limo for both her mental and physical toughness.

“Cynthia
was already speeding up [with 800m to go] and was very strong. I tried
to hang on but could only get second,” said Wacera. Interestingly,
Wacera plans to return to the track in an attempt to qualify for
Kenya’s Olympic team in the 10,000m. “I hope after this to be OK and
I’ll be able to do a lot of speed… If I have improved on the speed
then I think it will be a good idea to try for the Olympics before I
concentrate on road races.”

Diane Nukuri placed fourth in
32:23, while a trio of Americans –Laura Thweatt, Maegan Krifchin, and
Allie Kieffer– finished in the top ten. Thweatt was sixth (33:20);
Krifchin eighth (34:01); and Kieffer tenth (35:19). At three miles
Thweatt faced her own mental battle: go with the leaders and risk
bonking, or race a bit conservative hoping to pick people off.

“The
pace quickened a little bit, and you have that moment of truth where
you’re like, ‘do I just go and get on or do I stay?’ I had a moment of
hesitation and I stayed, and at that point I was by myself just
grinding it out,” Thweatt said. “That was my mistake, had a little bit
of a mental lapse, but it was still a good effort and I’m relatively
happy with how it turned out. It’s just a good notch in the belt for
the [Olympic] Trials.”

Conditions for today’s race were nearly
perfect, with temperatures a moderate 65 degrees, wind nearly
non-existent at 3 mph, and humidity at 70-percent.

PHOTO:
Cynthia Limo and Lucas Rotich after winning the 2016 UAE Healthy Kidney
10-K in New York’s Central Park in 31:39 and 28:29, respectively

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