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Chepkoech Wins “Countdown” Bonus; Noguiera, Hoang Take Wheelchair Crowns
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FALMOUTH (August 21, 2016)—Stephen Sambu, the veteran, knew just what he wanted to do, and did it, while Caroline Chepkoech, the rookie, played it by ear. Despite the difference in approach, the results were identical: commanding victories in the 44 th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race.
With his win, Sambu becomes just the second three-time men’s champion in race history, after fellow Kenyan Gilbert Okari (2004-2006). “It means a lot to me,” said the 28-year- old afterward, about his third victory here in three tries. “I was planning to win because only two guys have [now] won three times in a row. If I come next year and win I’ll be the only guy.”
Sambu did not, however, repeat as winner of “The Countdown,” a beat-the- clock challenge between the men’s and women’s divisions in which a clock begins as soon as the first woman crosses the finish line, counting down a pre-determined gap based on 10 years’ times between the top man and top woman—this year, 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The clock hit zero while Sambu was coming down the hill to the Falmouth Heights finish line, bringing a wide smile from Chepkoech as she realized she would win the $5,000 bonus.
In the men’s race, Sambu picked up the pace just after 5K, which a lead group of six men hit in 14:23. By mile four, Abdi Abdirahman of the U.S., Chris Thompson of Great Britain, and Daniel Salel of Kenya had fallen back; by mile five he had left American’s Sam Chelanga and Leonard Korir behind as well. By 10K, he was 16 seconds ahead of Korir, and that gap would grow to 25 seconds by the time Sambu hit the tape in 32:10. Korir—who arrived in Falmouth straight from competing in the 10,000 meters at the Olympics—would follow in 32:35, with Chelanga finishing third in 32:50.
On the women’s side, 2014 Falmouth champion Betsy Saina, who nine days ago finished fifth in the 10,000 meters in Rio, controlled much of the early pace in a pack that included Chepkoech, Aliphine Tuliamuk of the U.S., Monicah Ngige of Kenya, and defending champion Diane Nukuri of Burundi. But when Chepkoech decided to surge just after the four-mile mark, the race on for real. At five miles, it was all over.
“When I was at five miles I see people [behind me] going again, and I decided to go,” said Chepkoech, 22, who notched her third victory and seventh podium finish of the year, on top of finishing fifth in Kenya’s Olympic Trials at 10,000 meters. Saina finished as runner-up in 36:52, with Nukuri passing Tuliamuk in the late stages for third in 36:59.
Tuliamuk would finish fourth, and first American, in 37:06. Sambu and Chepkoech each took home $10,000 of a total $106,000 purse.
In the wheelchair race, two-time Paralympian Tony Nogueira, 48, captured his fifth win here, the first since 2005, in 27:37. For the women, 19-year- old newcomer Yen Hoang, a 2014 U.S. Paralympics High School All-American now training with the famed University of Illinois team, emerged victorious in 35:59. Madelyn Wilson, a 7-year- old from Spencer, MA who won five medals at the recent Adaptive Sports USA Junior National Championships, finished in 1:15:42.
Joan Samuelson, running on the 40 th anniversary of her first Falmouth victory despite a sore knee, finished in 46:26 to win her age group for the 10 th consecutive year, and father-son wheelchair duo Dick and Rick Hoyt completed the race for the 37 th consecutive year, the longest streak of any race they have done.
For more information, please visit our website at www.falmouthroadrace.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace; our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/falmouthrr and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace.
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About Falmouth Road Race
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973 and has become one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year the race draws an international field of Olympians, elite and recreational runners out to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The non-profit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.
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