Koech wins race, Americans take first team title
BOULDER – Circling around one of the final turns, Meb Keflezighi pointed at a Kenyan runner and yelled at American teammate Alan Culpepper.
Keflezighi knew the U.S. team’s only chance of beating Kenya would be if Culpepper could keep up with the runner next to him.
Keflezighi finished second after a strong final kick by Kenya’s Paul Koech, but the U.S. team had three of the top nine finishers to win its first Bolder Boulder 10K team challenge on Monday.
“I told Culpepper that the guy next to him, ‘That’s yours.’ He said, ‘I got you,”‘ Keflezighi said. “I wanted to get the title, but my main concern coming in here with Alan and Abdi (Abdirahman) was to win the team title.”
They did, but barely.
Koech finished the wind-blown road race in 29 minutes, 19 seconds to beat Keflezighi by 11 seconds, but didn’t get enough help from his teammates.
James Koskei was sixth and Benjamin Maiyo 14th, but the U.S. team won the title by two points after Abdirahman finished eighth and Culpepper ninth. Kenya had won the previous four team titles.
“Winning the team, that’s all I came for,” Keflezighi said.
Madai Perez won the women’s race with a strong kick in the final mile, beating Kenya’s Gladys Asiba by 12 seconds to become the first Mexican women’s champion in the Bolder Boulder’s 26-year history.
Perez stayed with the pack, then turned it on the final mile to finish at 34:24 to earn the $3,000 first prize.
“My primary objective was to win, so whoever took the lead is who I was going to go with,” Perez said. “That was the only strategy I had.”
Mexico also won its first women’s team title, with Angelica Sanchez finishing fourth and America Mateos 13th.
Koech was second at last year’s Bolder Boulder, but wasn’t sure how he’d do this year after arriving from Kenya just two days earlier. Mexico’s Gabino Apolinia, a typically strong frontrunner, didn’t help matters by setting a torrid pace early.
But Apolinia faded about halfway through and a group of about seven runners started to pull away. Koech and Keflezighi broke away from that group near the final mile marker, then Koech slowly stretched his lead down the final straightaway.
Koech finished at 29 minutes, 19 seconds to win the $3,000 first prize and become the eighth Kenyan in 10 years to win the men’s race.
“I ran my race. I didn’t go out strong because I didn’t know I was going to do what I did,” Koech said. “I was still tired from making the trip to Kenya to here.”
The women’s race was pared down to four runners with just over a mile to go, but Perez left little doubt who was going to win coming down the stretch.
She stayed on Asiba’s right shoulder for much of the race, eyeing the leader to see if she was getting tired. Sensing Asiba didn’t have much left, she burst out of the final corner with a strong kick and pushed the lead to 100 yards within a few seconds.
Perez continued her hard push all the way to the finish, racing up the final hill and into the stadium well ahead of Asiba.
“There were some times when the pace was too fast,” Asiba said. “I was looking for my teammates and the pace got too fast.”
Skydiver plows into spectator at Bolder Boulder
BOULDER, Colo. – Four skydivers jumping into Folsom Field for the Bolder Boulder’s Memorial Day tribute were blown off course Monday, with one of them plowing into a spectator in the stands and another crashing into a tree outside the stadium.
An unidentified woman was taken away in a stretcher but the hospital wouldn’t release information about her condition, race director Cliff Bosley said.
University of Colorado spokesman Dave Plati said that none of the skydivers was seriously injured.
Bosley said gusting winds caused the experienced skydivers to miss their mark. A message left for officials with Mile High Skydiving was not returned.
The skydivers are a traditional part of a ceremony in between the citizens’ 10 kilometer road race and the professional men’s and women’s races, which end at CU’s stadium. The skydiver who hit the tree was carrying a 10-foot American flag.
Winds from the west and northwest of up to 26 mph were reported during the women’s race, immediately following the ceremony.