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ME’s True 1st American to Win B2B

BEN TRUE MAKES HISTORY WITH FIRST USA WIN AT TD BEACH TO BEACON 10-K
***Mary Keitany Sets Women’s Course Record In Dominant Run***
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

CAPE ELIZABETH, ME., (6-Aug) — In a triumphant homecoming, Maine
native Ben True gave locals something special to cheer about, becoming
the first American in TD Beach to Beacon 10-K history to claim victory.
Tracking down Kenyan William Malel Sitonik in the final mile, True
emerged atop Fort Williams with an eleven second margin, finishing
first in 28:17. Behind him, countryman Dathan Ritzenhein took second in
28:28 to complete a patriotic one-two punch.

For the women, Mary Keitany was the class of the field, demonstrating
her poise and dominance by breaking the course record in 30:45. It was
Keitany’s second win and second course record in the span of a week.

BEN TRUE BOUNCES BACK WITH A VENGEANCE TO CLAIM MEN’S TITLE

While the Olympics may have kicked off in Rio de Janeiro last night, a
strong American contingent came together here within the opening mile,
forming an impromptu Team USA pack. Clustering together at the head of
the field were U.S. Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Abdi Abdirahman,
joined by True, Sam Chelanga, and Eric Jenkins. As if running in the
parade of nations, the Americans came first, followed by Kenya and
Ethiopia.

It was Ritzenhein who took control after a mile, focused on keeping the
pace somewhat honest. With conditions extremely humid and no breeze,
all were apprehensive about being aggressive; the mile was hit in 4:51
followed by two in 9:29. Ritzenhein seemed the only one focused on
maintaining a hard tempo.

Passing underneath a giant flag at five kilometers, the pack had been
dwindled down to six: Team USA had True, Ritzenhein, and Jenkins. Team
Kenya was represented by Sitonik, Daniel Salel, and two-time champion
Micah Kogo.

First to go was Sitonik, surging on the undulating course’s multiple
downhills. Making his road racing debut here, Sitonik bolted down a
steep hill at four miles then kept peering back over his shoulder as if
asking the others whether he was making a good or bad move. Though he
appeared strong, Sitonik’s lack of experience would come back to haunt
him.

Maintaining a five-second gap on Ritzenhein and True, Sitonik swung
wide at the five-mile water stop. He reached for two cups, staying
towards the outside of the road while Ritzenhein and True hugged the
tangent and bypassed any fluids. Sitonik’s lead was instantly cut in
half, just the boost of confidence the American duo needed entering the
final mile.

“He’s a novice I guess, first road race. It’s amazing, cutting the
tangents. If you cut the tangent on a two lane road like that you can
cut off ten or fifteen feet pretty easy,” Ritzenhein said. “That was
the difference.”

“I thought [Sitonik] was gone. We were working hard to try to catch
back up to him,” True said, later adding “you just try to stay on it,
keep grinding it out, not relax at all and keep the foot on the gas
pedal and hope that one of the guys is going to falter first and hope
it’s not you.”

On the last downhill before entering Fort Williams Park, True let
loose. Touching the lead for the first time since mile two, the North
Yarmouth, Maine, native seized the opportunity to pounce on Sitonik and
gap Ritzenhein. He pick-pocketed the former and didn’t let up through
Fort Williams’ final winding kilometer.

From the lead vehicle, True’s manager (and running mentor) Matt Lane
quipped that if True kept the lead with 600 meters left, there was no
chance anyone could touch him. “He’s running pissed,” Lane said,
referencing True’s disappointment and frustration from not making the
Olympic team at 5000m. “He’s angry, and this is his time. It’s his home
race.”

Indeed it was his time. Emerging in the finish straight first, True
broke the tape with 28:17 reading on the clock. It was the first time
an American had won here in race history.

“It feels great. I have to admit, it’s a little bittersweet cause I
wish I was in Rio right now, but it’s always nice to come here at home
and run in front of a home crowd and all the familiar faces,” he said.
“It was a lot of fun today.”

True noted that the win is special not only because it comes a month
after missing out on Rio, but also because it’s a chance to give back
to race founder and Olympic Marathon gold medalist, Joan Benoit
Samuelson. For years, Samuelson has hoped an American would finish
first at her hometown race. It’s only fitting that a Maine native and
close friend in True made that happen.

“Joanie and I go way back, and winning this race has always been a goal
of mine. It’s great to be able to get it done,” said True. For the win,
he takes home $15,000 ($10,000 for the win plus $5000 for top American
honors). “With these international 10-K’s, I always say that if I’m in
the race at 8-K, at five miles, it’s very hard for them to shake me in
that last mile because I’ll be so determined to hang on. Luckily I was
still ready to have some fight in me.”

Ritzenhein, second in 28:28, was also pleased for True. While he would
have liked to win, Ritzenhein knew True was motivated to bounce back on
home soil. “I was really happy. Ben’s obviously the hometown guy here
and so everyone’s cheering for him. If I had beaten him here they
probably wouldn’t like me and I wouldn’t be back next year!” he said
with a laugh. “He’s so fit still… For me to be right in there, I feel
really good where I’m at.”

Looking strong and in great shape, Ritzenhein took a lot of confidence
from today’s race. He led a majority of the first two and a half miles,
and kept in touch with the leaders until True’s winning move.
Ritzenhein said he’ll utilize confidence gained as he begins to buildup
for the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6.

Sitonik was third in 28:32, followed by Salel in fourth (28:44) and
Kogo in fifth (28:58). Sitonik said he hit a wall with a kilometer left
–just the point he was passed by True and Ritzenhein. Yet that wasn’t
the only issue.

“I could not drink water. I didn’t know how to drink water,” Sitonik
said, referencing that he never practiced drinking while racing. With
the humidity and temperatures high, the heat took its toll. “This is
different than track running,” he added, shaking his head.

Americans rounded out the top ten: Chelanga sixth (29:09); Jenkins
seventh (29:10); Abdirahman eighth (29:16); Patrick Smyth ninth
(29:21); and Joe Bosshard tenth (29:27).

Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Tariku Bekele wound up a very distant 14th in 30:35.

KEITANY CRUISES TO WOMEN’S RECORD IN 30:35

If one had to bet on a women’s champion here, the money would be on
Mary Keitany, the two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion. Coming
off a course record at the Quad-City Times Bix 7 Miler in Iowa last
Saturday, Keitany made her Maine debut one to remember. With an
inaugural women’s only elite start ten minutes before the masses,
Keitany took her spot and asserted herself quickly thereafter.

The first mile (net downhill) was passed in 5:17. That, Keitany
thought, was too slow. “The first mile downhill we were all together
and everyone wanted to be in front. I said ‘let’s go.’ After two miles
we started to pick it up and at three miles I said, ‘move on,’ to see
if I could be able to maintain my pace alone. I tried and I made it,”
Keitany recalled.

In essence it was as easy as that. Keitany, defending champion Wude
Ayalew, and Caroline Chepkoech broke away within the race’s opening ten
minutes. The three would run through halfway together; that’s as far as
Keitany allowed.

“I maintained my pace through the hills,” she said. “I just thought
maybe the ladies would go with me further, but any case when I was at
three miles my body was moving and I had 5-K remaining so I said let me
adjust my pace and move.”

One observer described Keitany’s move as “commanding.” Another said it
was “sheer dominance.” She dispatched with Chepkoech on the hills
towards Fort Williams, then took care of defending champion Ayalew.

Seemingly unchallenged, Keitany broke the tape in 30:45, crushing
Lineth Chepkurui’s previous record of 30:59.4 by nearly 15 seconds.

“I think I am really happy because after what I have done today. It was
amazing to me because winning two races with course records, it’s good
to me and I am happy. I’ve come to Beach to Beacon for the first time
and I’ve won in a course record!” the quiet Keitany said, followed by a
smile. Ayalew was second in 31:40; Chepkoech third in 32:03.

Top American honors went to Emily Sisson, fourth in 32:21. Sisson’s day
didn’t end at the finish: according to race officials, the Providence
College graduate succumbed to the heat and was taken to the medical
tent. Officials told Race Results Weekly that Sisson’s temperature had
risen severely, then dropped. She was in the tent for at least an hour
and a half.

Three seconds back of Sisson was Aliphine Tuliamuk, fifth in 32:24.
Sara Hall (32:46) and Jordan Hasay (33:04) were sixth and seventh.

“I’m so glad I was able to come out here and have a strong race after
the depressions from the Trials. It’s nice to get back into the racing
mode,” Tuliamuk said. She was eighth at the U.S. Olympic Trials
10,000m. “Emily was very strong, I’m definitely proud of her.”

In total, 6,332 runners finished this morning’s race, just shy of the race-record 6,595 last year.

PHOTO: Ben True becomes the first American to win the TD Beach to
Beacon 10-K in Cape Elizabeth, Me. (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race
Results Weekly)

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