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Defending Champ Edges NH’s Ben True in Soggy B.A.A. 5K

GEBRHIWET, NGIGE WIN RAINY B.A.A.  5-K
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2019 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (13-Apr) — On a rainy, windy and cool morning here in Back Bay, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Monicah Ngige splashed their way to victories at the 11th annual B.A.A. 5-K in 13:42 and 15:16, respectively.  Gebrhiwet, an Olympic bronze medalist from Ethiopia, successfully defended his 2018 title, beat course-record-holder Ben True for the second consecutive year, and ran the exact same time as last year.  Ngige, from Kenya, moved up from third place last year, won the race for the first time, and set a personal best.  Both athletes won $7500 in prize money.

None of the elite men were anxious take the race out at a fast pace.  True, a four-time winner here, took the early lead as the race left the start/finish area sandwiched between the Public Garden and Boston Common on Charles Street.  Gebrhiwet remained tucked in the pack with the other contenders, including Canada’s Justyn Knight and Ben Flanagan, Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay, Kenya’s David Bett and Stephen Sambu, and Boston’s own Jacob Thompson.  The first kilometer split was a tepid 2:54, followed by an equally slow 4:37 mile split.  True, a veteran road racer, was a little surprised.

“I thought I was kind of pushing the pace a little bit in the lead, and then you come through (the first mile) and realize we’re going really slow,” the Maine native told reporters.  “I don’t know what it was about today.  There was a little bit of wind but it definitely felt like a little bit of a harder race than the time said at the end.”

As the leaders went down the sharp downhill in the second kilometer under the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, the lead pack began to string out.  The race has a sharp turnaround only about a minute later, and Geay leaned-in and accelerated into those two 90-degree, left-had turns further stringing out the pack.  After the right turn on Hereford Street, and the left on Boylston there were only five men left in contention at the two-mile mark  which was hit in 9:05: Gebrhiwet, True, Geay, Knight, and Flanagan.

Gebrhiwet knew that True has a both strong kick and a keen grasp of race tactics, so he decided to accelerate on Boylston and put the race away before the final turn onto Charles Street for the finish.  Making that left turn into the finish straight, Gebrhiwet had a comfortable cushion on True and ran smoothly to the line to get the win.

“I trained very well,” Gebrhiwet told reporters through a translator.  He continued: “The only think I was thinking to break my time.  Because of the rain, it did not happen.  I’m sure next year, or two years, I will improve my time.”

True needed to call on his sprint speed after all.  Knight, running his first professional road race, passed him, but True came roaring back to take second in 13:44 to Knight’s 13:46.

“Ben True showed why he’s Ben True,” Knight said with admiration.  “Hopefully I’ll be more prepared for a move like that in the future.”

True was satisfied with his performance, and said it was in line with his current fitness.

“It was nice to get second,” said True.  “I always hate when someone walks away from you in the last 400 meters.  I knew Hagos was probably going to do something like that.”

Ngige ended up battling with an opponent she didn’t even know.  Violah Lagat –one of Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat’s younger sisters who is a 4:04 1500m runner– was a late entrant to the race and wasn’t even issued a name bib like the other top women.  Ngige referred to her in her post-race interview as “another Kenyan lady” and had no idea how fast she was.

“Oh wow!” Ngige exclaimed when a reporter told her of Lagat’s credentials.  “Sometimes you don’t know who is coming to the race.  So, you just come and run your race, you know?”

Despite Lagat’s finishing speed, Ngige easily pulled away from her to get the win in the final kilometer.  Lagat, who only finished 15th in this race last year, took second in 15:29 followed by Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia in third (15:35).  Kim Conley of West Sacramento, Calif., was the top American in fourth place and nearly caught Gebreslase at the line.

“I could see third place right as we were entering Boston Common again, so I was gunning for her to the finish,” said Conley, the 2014 USA 10,000m champion who was timed in 15:36 here today.  “I saw her look back over her shoulder at me right before the line, put in a little spurt, but she still got me.”

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