Hussein set both of his other US Masters records at Twin Cities. He's won the open men's title twice, and the US Masters title five times, also all at Twin Cities. The only thing that kept him from number six was a great performance by a new Master, 40-year old Coloradan Clint Wells. Sweat pouring off him in the press tent after the race Wells acknowledged that it took everything he had to hold to off Mbarak by eight seconds.
"I was dying," said Wells. "All I was trying to do was get to the finish."
"You ran the whole race by yourself," Hussein said to Wells as the pair did a postmortem on their races. Wells had opened a 48 second lead on Hussein by halfway and that lead expanded to one minute and eight seconds by 21 miles. The lead was still a minute and one second by mile 24. Those last two miles were agony for Wells and a realization by Hussein that he wasn't out of the battle for first.
Wells was running 5:54 miles for the last 2.2 miles of the race, while Mbarack could see that he was gaining with almost every step. Hussein averaged 5:29 for those final 2.2 miles, and as he was gaining, he said to Wells while chuckling: "I was saying 'don't turn around.' Then you turned around."
"Yeah," Wells said. "I knew you were coming. I could hear the crowd clapping and cheering and the cheers were getting closer, so I knew somebody was coming." In the end, Wells held it together and Mbarak ran out of real estate. "I didn't have confidence in my fitness," said Hussein. Wells may have had an inflated view of his, but was still able to "grind it out" as top tennis players often say when their game is off yet they still manage to win the big points and the match.
|Mbarak Hussei and Josh Metcalf passing from Lake Harriet|
Photo by Gene Niemi
Just as impressive was the fact that Masters runners took five of the top twelve in the Open men's race. Wells led the group to the finish in eighth overall, followed by Hussein, Josh Metcalf, Steven Muturi, and Jason Ryf.
Hussein is not only aware of what's happening in the Masters. When the Griak Invitational was mentioned during a casual conversation at the TCM expo, he said how amazed he was to read the stories about 7th grader Grace Ping winning the High School girl's Gold race. "A 12 year old winning that race, setting World Records," he said. Ping's exploits impressed him, probably as much as his own would impress Ping.