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Masai Takes New York Mini 10K

Linet Masai

Linet Masai

40th edition celebrates women’s running and honors Grete Waitz in Central Park; more than 4,700 finishers in the original women-only road race By Jim Gerweck, Running USA wire

NEW YORK – (June 11, 2011) – In its 40-year history, the NYRR Mini has made history, and careers.

Saturday morning on the steamy streets of Central Park, Kenya’s Linet Masai put her own stamp on the original all-women’s race, and laid claim to joining such race legends as multiple winners Lornah Kiplagat, Tegla Loroupe, and five-time winner Grete Waitz, who succumbed to a long battle with cancer in April and who was honored at the storied race in several fashions.

Many of the 4,750 women who lined up north of Columbus Circle wore their hair in pigtails, a tribute to the Norwegian runner’s usual hairstyle, and event shirts and bibs were emblazoned with “T1FG,” an acronym for “This One’s For Grete.” Waitz’ husband, Jack ran with New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg as the first official male finisher in the race’s history.

The Mini has always been a demonstration and celebration of women’s running solidarity, and the opening mile seemed to echo that theme, as a group of 30 women virtually jogged up Central Park West, hitting the first mile in 5:31. Perhaps it was in deference to the 96 percent humidity, thankfully tempered by temperatures in the mid-60s, but as soon as the runners entered Central Park at 90th Street, Masai asserted herself.

“My plan was to push at 5K, but when I saw it was so slow at the beginning I thought maybe I should push earlier,” she said after the race.

There was no distinct surge or effort on her part, and yet the second mile was covered nearly half a minute faster than the first. That chopped the pack down to a dozen. The third mile was even quicker, 4:51, in spite of climbing the longest hill on the course, and by the time the halfway point was reached in 15:32 Masai’s long strides had opened a 10-second lead on her closest pursuers, Ethiopians Aheza Kiros, the 2011 Carlsbad 5000 champion, and Belainesh Gebre.

Masai, 21, continued to lengthen that margin over the second half of the course, looking like the reigning world 10,000 meter champion was on a solo tempo run rather than a race.

Her finishing time of 31 minutes, 40 seconds was nearly a minute slower than what she ran in winning the race for the first time last year, yet put her nearly half a minute ahead of Kiros, who edged her countrywoman by a single second.

Magdalena Lewy Boulet was the top American in 10th, clocking 33:09 for 10K.

“I’m just trying to race myself into shape,” she said. The 2008 Olympic marathoner plans to run the 10,000 at the USA Outdoor Championships in two weeks, then look for a low-key track 5000 and 1500 before returning to the roads for the rest of the season. “It’s kind of a different year for me, since I won’t be running a fall marathon,” she said, citing the January 2012 date of the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston.

The Mini also marked the return to racing of Deena Kastor following the February birth of her daughter, Piper. Kastor, who won the race in 2004, finished 25th in 35:00.

“I thought I could have run a bit faster, but given the conditions, it’s OK,” the 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist said. “I’m unsatisfied, but motivated. Running here showed me I’ve come back fine physically from the pregnancy, now I know what I can do and what I need to do. It’s given me the excitement to back and train hard and get back into racing shape.”

40th NYRR New York Mini 10K
New York, NY, Saturday, June 11, 2011

1) Linet Masai (KEN), 31:40, $10,000
2) Aheza Kiros (ETH), 32:09, $5000
3) Belainesh Gebre (ETH), 32:10, $3500
4) Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 32:24, $2500
5) Emily Chebet (KEN), 32:31, $1500
6) Kim Smith (NZL), 32:32
7) Jo Pavey (GBR), 32:46
8) Alessandra Aguilar (ESP), 32:56
9) Eloise Wellings (AUS), 33:06
10) Magdalena Lewy Boulet (USA / CA), 33:09, $5000
11) Anna Incerti (ITA), 33:25
12) Diane Nukuri-Johnson (BDI), 33:28
13) Yoshimi Ozaki (JPN), 33:30
14) Adriana Nelson (USA / CO), 33:33, $2500
15) Molly Pritz (USA / MI), 33:36, $1250
16) Lornah Kiplagat (NED), 33:55
17) Irvette Van Blerk (NED), 33:56
18) Yuri Kano (JPN), 34:09
19) Claire Hallissey (GBR), 34:23
20) Aziza Aliyu (ETH), 34:25
21) Annie Bersagel (USA / CA), 34:32, $750
24) Sarah Porter (USA / WA), 34:55, $500