Linet Masai Controls Second Half of Race to Win NYRR New York Mini 10K
Photo above by www.photorun.net (left to right): NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg with pregnant fun runners Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe (both Kara and Paula are world-class marathoners)
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK (12-Jun)--Linet Masai took Saturday morning's NYRR New York Mini 10K in Central Park by storm, cruising to victory over a world class field which included six world champions.
Masai, the 2009 IAAF World Championships women's 10,000m winner, broke away from the field at the North end of Central Park, running up and down the hilly course as if it was pancake flat.
A familiar site emerged when the 39th running of the Mini 10K began, with four-time champion Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands taking control from the gun. Leading a pack of seven, which included Ethiopians Teyba Erkesso and Worknesh Kidane, Kenyans Masai and Emily Chebet, and New Zealand's Kim Smith, Kiplagat hit the first mile marker in 4:56. A mile later, Kiplagat had slimmed the pack to five, then four--all past or current world champions--by the midway point, reached in 15:24. That's when Masai decided to take control.
With her braided hair bobbing from side to side, Masai (photo at left by www.photorun.net) passed the famous Fred Lebow statue after a 5:07 uphill mile to build a 12 second gap on her pursuers. Just short of the Central Park Boathouse, marking the five mile mark, Masai knew she had the win in her hands. She crossed the line alone in 30:48 after covering the second half in 15:23, two seconds quicker than the first.
"It is my personal best," the soft-spoken Kenyan Linet Masai, still just 20 years old, said after her US road race debut. "That was my plan. After 5000m, just push and try to run my best."
Masai, who trains in Iten, Kenya alongside her older brother, Moses Masai, now plans to concentrate on the track for the remainder of the summer, first focusing on the Kenyan Championships, then on the African Championships in July, and the Commonwealth Games in October where she plans to contest the 10,000m.
Masai was asked why she chose to run this morning's 10K instead of the 5000m at the adidas Grand Prix, the IAAF Diamond League meeting to be held later today on New York's Randall's Island. Her reply was simple and blunt.
"I wanted to come to the 5000m race, but I was not invited."
Jim Gerweck for the Running USA wire notes that Linet Masai upset world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba at last year's meet in the women's 5000m race, 14:35.39 to 14:40.93.
Behind Masai, Emily Chebet (www.photorun.net photo at right) injected a surge with 400 meters remaining and edged ahead of Worknesh Kidane by five seconds for second place (31:13), personal bests for both. Lornah Kiplagat, coming back from an 18-month break from competition after surgery to remove a large cyst on her right knee, finished fourth in 31:40, and was clearly pleased to be back on the roads.
"I was feeling good, I wanted to see how I was, for this was my first competition [since the surgery]," said Kiplagat, who admitted she was not in peak condition for the race. "I knew the rest of the girls were in top shape, and I am looking to be in top shape by September. I was absolutely happy with my performance."
Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet, 36, of Oakland, CA was the first American, placing eleventh in 33:25. American Delilah Dicrescenzo, 27, of New York City finished twelfth (33:38).
But the star of the show on June 12 was Masai. Will she return to Central Park next year? "Maybe," Masai said. "Then I can go after the [course] record."
Moroccan Asmae Leghzaoui's 2002 winning time of 30:29 is the current standard.
A total of 5,189 women finished the NYRR New York Mini 10K. The top masters female was Fiona Bayly, 42, in 38:35. 76-year-old Ginette Bedard ran a remarkable time of 53:24. The top wheelchair participant was Rosalie Ames, 80, in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 33 seconds.
Originally called the Mini Marathon, the race was named in part for the miniskirt, which was fashionable in 1972 when Fred Lebow and the New York Road Runners hosted the inaugural event won by American Jacqueline Dixon.