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2010 NYC Half Marathon Recap

Courtesy of the New York Road Runners-nyrr.com

Nearly, 11,400 runners ran the Spring NYC Half marathon, in nearly perfect weather! Peter Kamais and Mara Yamauchi were the winners

Great Weather, Great Finishes for 11,494 at the NYC Half-Marathon, Yamauchi sets event record; Kamais upsets Gebrselassie

New York, March 21, 2010—After their victories in today’s NYC Half-Marathon, Mara Yamauchi and Peter Kamais sounded even happier than you’d expect winners of a major road race to be. Both produced strong finishes to defeat world-class fields on a day of near-perfect weather, as NYRR and 11,494 finishers—the most in the event’s five-year history—celebrated the end of a long, icy winter with this race’s first spring running.

“I never thought I would win here,” said Kamais, a 33-year-old Kenyan 10K specialist who was running only the second half-marathon of his career. “Haile is so strong—I did not expect to beat him.” Marathon world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie had indeed taken the lead from the start, and after a tour of Central Park’s hilly six-mile loop, only Kamais was still with him. But Gebrselassie pulled up at eight miles, the victim of a mild asthma attack, and Kamais ran on alone. (After stopping for about a minute, Gebrselassie tried to resume a race effort, but he soon pulled out again and did not finish.)

Kamais had built a lead of 45 seconds when he reached the finish line on the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan. He stopped the clock in a personal-best 59:53—the second-fastest time in event history (after Gebrselassie’s 59:24 from 2007) and his first time under the one-hour mark.

Halfway through the women’s race, Yamauchi, A 36-year-old British citizen based in Japan, had all but conceded the win to American half-marathon record-holder Deena Kastor, who had built a lead of about 30 seconds with a bold front-running strategy. “My race went from bad to good today,” said Yamauchi. “I didn’t give up because as soon as you give up in your mind, your body gives up. I told myself that a bad day was better than a really bad day.”

She pressed on, and when the race turned south along the Hudson River, Yamauchi could see Kastor ahead. The gap had shrunk. “When I saw Deena, I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t so bad, let’s get moving,’” Yamauchi said afterward. She caught Kastor with two miles left in the race and had built an 18-second margin by the finish; her time of 1:09:25 was also 18 seconds under the event record, set in the race’s inaugural running in 2006 by Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba. “I didn’t think the time was going to be what it was, so I’m really, really pleased,” said Yamauchi. (She and Kastor will have a rematch on April 25 at the Virgin London Marathon.)

The men’s and women’s battles for second place were similar—and both thrilling. Kastor had to sprint hard to hold off a late charge from Madaí Pérez of Mexico, who closed to within two seconds of the American at the line. The extra effort gave Kastor a time of 1:09:43, equal to Ndereba’s old course record.

Kenya’s Moses Kigen Kipkosgei and American Mo Trafeh were running shoulder-to-shoulder when they reached the 13-mile mark, and they staged an all-out sprint over the final tenth of a mile. Kipkosgei prevailed by one second—and in a one-second personal-best time of 1:00:38. Trafeh’s 1:00:39 was a personal best by a bit more: a minute and 42 seconds, to be precise.

Strong contingents of local runners were led by Aziza Aliyu, eighth in the women’s race in 1:13:34, and Tesfaye Girma, 10th among the men in 1:03:12. Both compete for the West Side Runners team.

The excellent weather for running—53 degrees and sunny, with a mild breeze—produced finishing times that were generally several minutes faster throughout the field than in the event’s four previous years, when the race was held in the summer. “It was great, perfect, fast weather,” enthused Audrey Kingsley, 41, of Manhattan, who finished in 1:32:31. “I ran my best time in six years!”
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