The first runner off the starting line was the only one to take down a record. In the 10-Mile, the women start first and the men took off about six and a half minutes after the women. The first runner who crosses the finish line in front of the State Capitol wins their gender category and the "equalizer bonus." Late entrant 2012 Olympian Molly Huddle bolted off the starting line determined not only to win the race, but to make sure that none of the men starting later could make up the "handicap."
|Molly Huddle said her strategy for winning the equalizer bonus was to get so far ahead|
that the men chasing her could not see her on the horizon in front. Douse any incentive they
might get from seeing her up ahead. Photo by Gene Niemi
Track fans who watched this year's 10,000 meters or the endless replays afterward of Huddle raising her arms in celebration of the bronze medal she was going to earn for placing third. Huddle didn't realize that by slowing down with the premature celebration she allowed another American, Emily Infeld, to pass her to take away that medal.
Nobody was going to surprise Huddle on Sunday. Huddle said after winning the race and the equalizer bonus that she thought running faster than Kara Goucher's course record of 53:16 would win the woman's race and the equalizer. She also believed she was capable of running 52 minutes plus. Her first miles were 5:15 and 5:10 up the steepest hill on the course.
She "negative split" the race running 26:01 for the first five miles and 25:43 for the second, averaging 5:11 per mile to break Goucher's record by a minute and 32 seconds with a time of 51:44. That is the fastest 10 mile ever run by an American, but it won't count as an American record because the TC 10-Mile course is laid out "point-to-point" going from a higher elevation to a lower one thus it is not "record eligible" because it has more downhill than uphill, which means the performance could be deemed aided by the advantage given by the downhills.
The other hurdle to getting a record ratified is that the runner who ran a record eligible time must be drug tested soon after the race. So, a testing crew was notified and was going to meet her at the airport to get a test done, just in case something was overlooked and further examination of the course reveals it to be record eligible and her time would replace Cathy O'Brien's record of 51:47 set in 1989.
There was no ambiguity in the men's or women's TC Marathon. The only woman who had a fast enough PR to challenge Semenova's course record, Kenya's Sarah Kiptoo(2:26:31 PR), couldn't match or run faster than her best on Sunday and finished fourth in 2:35:25. In front of her were two Ethiopians and a Kenyan, none of whom had broken two hours and 30 minutes for the marathon.
After the race, the woman's winner, Serkalem Abrha, from Ethiopia, sat on a chair in the press tent her head in her hands. She wasn't weeping in disappointment, but with joy as not only had she won the three woman battle for first between her and runner-up Jane Kibii of Kenya, and Ethiopia's Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel, Abrha had run a personal best of 2:31:40, four seconds faster than Kibii and a minute four second gap to Yeshanbel.
Yeshanbel could no longer keep up with Abrha and Kibii by mile 25 and lost all that time between her and the other two in the last 1.2 miles. Kibii hung on until the final meters of the race despite a dodgy hamstring and late in the race, a pain radiating from the bottom of her left foot. Kibii thought that the foot pain came from favoring her tight hamstring, and she felt she needed to wait until the very last strides of the race to make any effort toward passing Abrha.
By then Abrha had already started her kick and opened a gap that couldn't be closed.
In the men's marathon three Kenyans had run faster than Coppess' record: The two Grandma's champions, 2014 winner and course recordholder for Grandma's, Pius Dominic Ondoro, and his training partner, this year's Grandma's winner, Elisha Kiprop Barno, and Abraham Chelanga. Neither Ondoro or Barno were willing to push the pace from the start out of fear that if they spent too much energy early in the race, they would pay for it later.
So the pace languished through the half marathon that the trio reached in 1:07:12. Knowing that was 2:14 marathon pace, Ondoro went from running 5:04 miles to 4:52s. They maintained the 4:52 pace up the hills from the transition from the East River Blvd. to Summit Avenue. Chelanga was far back in the rear view mirror and when Ondoro cranked off a 4:36 for mile 23 he broke away from Barno and the race for first was over.
Despite a huge negative split on the second half of the race (1:04:04) and a 29 minute plus last 10K, Coppess' record survived another year. As Ondoro was resting after the race in the press tent he was asked if the delicate looking necklace with a crucifix on it was his good luck charm. "Yes, I am Catholic," thus his first two names, Pius Dominic. Maybe he needs to say a few more prayers next year. With their success at Grandma's and Twin Cities, both Ondoro and Barno spoke enthusiastically about running both Minnesota races again and taking another shot at the record.