SIX STORYLINES - 2014 NEW BALANCE FALMOUTH ROAD RACE
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)
(13-Aug) -- In advance of Sunday's New Balance Falmouth Road Race, Race Results Weekly breaks down five storylines going into the annual summer showcase
from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights on Cape Cod. In its 42nd year, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race saw 10,988 finishers in 2013; course records stand at
31:08 for men (Gilbert Okari, 2004) and 35:02 for women (Lornah Kiplagat, 2000).
- EYES ON THE PODIUM FOR AMERICAN HUDDLE: In the past twenty years, only three American women have finished first at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race:
Magdalena Lewy Boulet in 2011, Jen Rhines in 2003, and Laura Mykytok in 1994. The last time a New England-based woman claimed the laurel wreath was 1992,
when Lynn Jennings timed 36:13. Huddle, who lives and trains in Providence, R.I., is coming off a string of personal best performances, including wins at
the Oakley Mini 10-K (31:37) and at the Quad-City Times Bix 7 Miler (36:14). Huddle bettered her own American 5000m record on the track in Monaco last month
, running 14:42.64. Able to transition easily from the track to the roads, Huddle can keep the winner's crown in New England.
Nike Oregon Project teammates Jordan Hasay and Tara Erdmann will join Huddle as the leading American women entered. Hasay finished fourth at the TD Beach
to Beacon 10-K, and told Race Results Weekly she was eagerly awaiting the New Balance Falmouth Road Race.
- STEEL, WACERA, and SAINA EYE TITLE: Along with Huddle, Great Britain's Gemma Steel and Kenya's Mary Wacera and Betsy Saina come in as the favorites to
break the tape first in Falmouth Heights. Steel was runner-up to Joyce Chepkirui last year, and is coming off a thrilling victory at the TD Beach to Beacon
10-K in Maine. Having been training in Portland, Maine, for a majority of the last two weeks, Steel travels the 140 miles south to Cape Cod with added
Wacera, 25, has left her mark on the road racing scene in 2014, breaking through thanks to new-found racing opportunities. Prior to placing third at the
Healthy Kidney 10-K in New York City, Wacera told Race Results Weekly she looked at 2014 as a blessing.
"Last year I didn't have access to good races. So maybe I was in shape but the races I got I couldn't perform. They were not faster, not many fast
competitors," she recalled. "When I went to the World's Best [10-K, which she won in February], it changed a lot of things because that's the race where I
was selected to run the World Half."
At the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, Wacera took silver. Since then, she's won the Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K and Utica Boilermaker 15-K on American
Saina, a 26-year-old graduate of Iowa State, has run 31:10 for 10-K on the roads this year en route to placing second at the B.A.A. 10-K.
- DEFENDING CHAMP KOGO, WORLD LEADER SAMBU HEAD KENYAN CHARGE: Micah Kogo, last year's winner, will look to claim Kenya's 20th men's title on the roads
between Woods Hole and Falmouth Heights. Having won both in 2013 and 2007, Kogo brings vast experience to the table. The 28-year-old Olympic bronze medalist
at 10,000m was brimming with confidence before finishing fifth at the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K on August 3, telling Race Results Weekly he has been working
on his speed recently. That could come in handy if it's a close race descending the final hill.
Joining Kogo from Kenya is Stephen Sambu, the Tucson, Ariz., based 26-year-old. Red hot on the roads this year, Sambu holds the world lead for 10-K, a 27:25
mark set while winning the B.A.A. 10-K in June. Sambu has shown tremendous range in 2014, winning events at 10-K (B.A.A. 10-K and UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K
in 27:39), 10 miles (Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 45:29), and Half-Marathon (Carlsbad Half-Marathon in 62:13). The rolling, seven mile course along Nantucket
Sound shouldn't be a problem for the James Li-coached athlete.
Emmanuel Bett, one place and four seconds behind Kogo at the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K, is entered as well.
- POST-COLLEGIATE SHOWCASE: Glancing at the starting lists, one will notice a very large number of recent NCAA student-athletes mixing it up on the roads on
Cape Cod. Leading the charge is Texas Tech alum Kennedy Kithuka, winner of the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championship and 2013 NCAA Indoor 5000m title.
Kithuka hasn't raced since the middle of June, when he placed fourth and eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships 10,000m and 5000m, respectively. According
to respected statistics website Tilastopaja.org, the 25-year-old has never raced on the roads before.
Andrew Colley, seventh at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships while at North Carolina State, and Indiana University alum Zach Mayhew will also lace up
the road racing flats.
Making her professional debut will be former William & Mary standout Elaina Balouris, donning the Boston Athletic Association kit for the first time. In
July she joined the B.A.A.'s High Performance team, coached by Terrence Mahon.
New Zealand's Laura Nagel, a member of last year's Providence College squad that claimed top team honors at the NCAA Cross Country championships, is also
Speaking of the NCAA ranks, former 10,000m American record holder Chris Solinsky announced last week that he has accepted the assistant coach position at
the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He'll be racing as well.
- OLYMPIC MARATHONERS RETURN: Abdi Abdirahman and Meb Keflezighi are regulars on the roads of Falmouth. Twelve months ago, Abdirahman stuck with leaders
Micah Kogo, Ben True, and Emmanuel Mutai through 10-K before ultimately finishing fourth in 32:28.4. The "Black Cactus" also was fifth in 2011 (32:43),
though hasn't finished a competitive race this year since placing 16th at April's Boston Marathon in 2:16:06. (Abdirahman was given a time of 54:33 at the
AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, more than 25 minutes behind winner Christo Landry, though it is unclear if he raced the event or simply used it as a
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be Keflezighi's final contest before transitioning into preparation mode for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on
November 2. Battling a nagging hamstring injury in recent weeks, Keflezighi took 13th at the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K in 29:59. Last week, the 2014 Boston
Marathon champion and wife Yordanos Asgedom were honorable guests of President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C.
(Ed. note: Pandemic help is on the way, but not in time for a March …