Daska Sets Women’s CR, Desisa Defends at BAA Half

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

(12-Oct) — On a crisp New England fall day, Ethiopians Mamitu Daska
and Lelisa Desisa were crowned champions at the 14th B.A.A.
Half-Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy
Fund. Daska established a new event record of 1:08:20, while Desisa
earned his second consecutive victory in 1:01:38, covering the rolling,
spectacular course through Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system in

Smiling from ear to ear, the 30-year-old Daska had a
race to remember. Through the opening miles, she found herself among a
lead pack of five that included Kenyans Betsy Saina and Cynthia Limo,
as well as American ace Molly Huddle. Together, they passed five miles
in 25:48.

Taking the lead in the ninth mile, Daska began to
increase her pace and take control. At April’s B.A.A. 5-K, Daska
finished second to Huddle by a mere two seconds. Returning to the city
for the B.A.A. 10-K on June 22, Daska was first across the line in a
course record of 31:04. Entering today’s half-marathon, Daska was
determined to continue her winning ways and break the tape first.

Franklin Park, Daska ran with confidence and gusto. With just over a
mile to go, Daska passed through the Franklin Park Zoo and knew it was
her time to shine: subsequently, she made her bid for victory and
gapped the final challenger, Limo.

While Huddle and Saina had
dropped back in the ninth and tenth mile, respectively, Limo held tough
up front to give Daska some company. In the final kilometer, a sudden
surge by Daska proved to be too much for the Kenyan to handle.

extended her lead entering White Stadium, with only 200 meters
remaining. It was then that she recognized the course record could be

“I never before was thinking course record because the
weather was cold. I win and the new course record, I am happy,” said
Daska, speaking through a translator. “Close to the stadium, I am
looking to the time, 1:08, and I hoped to set a course record.”

down the homestretch and using the spectator’s applause to her
advantage, Daska broke the finish tape in 1:08:20, establishing an
event record by 54 seconds. The previous record of 1:09:14 belonged to
New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith, set in 2013.

Daska’s victory
earned her a total of $40,000 USD. In addition to her $10,000 USD first
place prize, Daska picked up a $10,000 USD course record bonus and a
$20,000 B.A.A. bonus for winning both the B.A.A. 10-K and B.A.A.
Half-Marathon. Following her race, Daska pledged a $5,000 donation to
The One Fund Boston in honor of those impacted by the tragic events at
the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“It is special because [I have earned
B.A.A.] 10-K and Half-Marathon wins, so I am happy, and I hope I win
the marathon next time,” Daska said. “In Ethiopia, Boston Marathon is
biggest in the world in [the] marathon, so everybody wants to win it.”

second in a personal best of 1:08:24 was Limo, while Huddle –a 2012
Olympian– placed third in 1:09:23. Rounding out the top five were
Kenyans Saina (1:09:27) and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (1:10:38). This
was Saina’s first ever half marathon.

Huddle, who lives in
Providence, R.I., said that the supportive cheers from the crowd and
fellow runners helped her through the tough miles.

“I heard a
ton of people yelling my name which was awesome,” Huddle said, noting
that sometime in 2015 or 2016 she’d like to try the marathon distance.
“It helped a lot.”

Running for the Boston Athletic Association,
Mimi Fallon, 49 of Walpole, Mass., was the top masters finisher,
placing 15th in 1:24:58.


Desisa ruled the roads of Boston in 2013, winning both the Boston
Marathon and B.A.A. Half-Marathon. Twelve months ago, the 24-year-old
established a course record of 1:00:34 for the half marathon, cruising
to victory over Kenyans Daniel Salel and Stephen Sambu.

Salel, and Sambu all returned to Boston for today’s race. Racing
through five miles in 23:49, all three were tightly bunched together,
running as one through the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. It was evident
that the trio was familiar with the rolling course, savvy racers ready
to make their move at an instant’s notice. Joining them up front were
Leonard Korir (KEN), Tesfalem Gebrearegawi (ETH), Raji Assefa (ETH),
and Cleophas Ngetich (KEN).

Salel and Sambu, second and third
here a year ago, led the group through ten miles in 47:16. Biding his
time and sitting back was Desisa, awaiting the right moment to surge.
In 2013, Desisa’s winning move came at 12 miles. This year, it would be
at the eleven mile mark.

Speeding up at such a blistering pace,
Desisa caught the field –and the course officials biking alongside–
by surprise. By the time he exited Franklin Park Zoo and made the
charge toward White Stadium, Desisa was confident the win was his.

the finish tape in 1:01:38, Desisa celebrated with a wave to the crowd.
Although it was not a course record, Desisa was very pleased to become
the first two-time men’s champion in race history.

“I am happy.
I test myself for New York City Marathon, and I felt good. I finish
half marathon number one. When I compare myself, the feeling is good,”
said Desisa, a medal draped around his neck. “

Desisa is
preparing for November’s New York City Marathon, and said he gained
confidence from today’s performance. The win was extra special
considering Desisa had to take time off from training following April’s
Boston Marathon, which he was unable to finish due to an ankle injury.

“Now I am happy I win because I prepared myself,” he said. “I did more endurance training to prepare for this.”

second to Desisa was Salel in a time of 1:01:48. Korir held on for
third in 1:01:51, while Sambu, the best runner on the American roads
this year, placed fourth in 1:02:00.

Sambu, champion of this
year’s B.A.A. 10K, took home the B.A.A. Distance Medley series title
for the second consecutive year. His cumulative time for the B.A.A. 5-K
(13:27), B.A.A. 10-K (27:25), and Half-Marathon (1:02:00) was 1:42:52.

am very happy to win for the second time in a row,” said Sambu. “Going
in, I knew I had a good chance of winning, and I knew I was ahead of
Salel by 24 seconds at one point. I am very, very happy.”

Salel wound up second in the standings, totaling a time of 1:43:00.

top American finisher was Dartmouth College graduate Ethan Shaw, a
member of the Boston Athletic Association. Shaw placed eighth in

Joseph Ekuom of Kingston, New York, won the men’s
masters competition for the third consecutive year. His time was
1:12:55, five seconds ahead of the Boston Athletic Association’s Chris

In the push rim wheelchair division, New Jersey’s
Tony Nogueira won for the ninth time since 2003, finishing in 57:03.
Nogueira has now won four consecutive B.A.A. Half Marathon titles.
Acton, Mass., native Katrina Gerhard, 17, was the women’s wheelchair
champion in 1:28:09.

Also in the field were over 600 runners
representing Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds to improve
patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber. The B.A.A. Half
Marathon has been presented annually by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
and the Jimmy Fund since 2003. Dana-Farber runners have raised more
than $4 million USD through this event over the past 12 years.

A total of 6,233 finishers completed the race, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

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