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Stephen Sambu Seeks to Become First Man to Win 4 Times; Caroline Chepkoech Wants “Countdown” Repeat
FALMOUTH, MA (August 10, 2017)—Defending champions Stephen Sambu and Caroline Chepkoech lead the elite fields for the 45th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on August 20, organizers announced today.
Sambu, 29, will attempt to become the first man to win the race for the fourth time since it began in 1973. Last year, he joined Bill Rodgers (1974, 1977 and 1978) and Gilbert Okari (2004-2006) as the only male three-time winners in the open division.
“Everyone wants to run Falmouth and everyone wants to win it,” said Sambu. “It’s a tough race. In order to win that race even one time is really good. To win four times would be amazing.”
Athletes in the New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be competing for a prize purse totaling $119,000, with $10,000 going to the winners of the men’s and women’s open divisions. Race founder Tommy Leonard will again serve as Grand Marshal.
The men’s and women’s wheelchair division, sponsored by Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, features some of the deepest fields in race history. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and four-time winner of the Grand Slam of Boston, London, Chicago and New York marathons in the same calendar year, headlines the women’s field. The 28-year-old McFadden, a two-time winner here and the course record-holder (26:27), won four gold medals last month at the World Para Athletics Championships. She will face defending champion Yen Hoang of the U.S. and Hannah Babalola of Nigeria, who won the TD Beach to Beacon 10K earlier this month.
Krige Schabort, a five-time Falmouth winner still going strong at the age of 53, returns to lead the men’s wheelchair field after winning the TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Aug. 5. Schabort, a two-time Paralympic marathon medalist, will line up against defending champion Tony Nogueira; course record-holder James Senbeta; three-time Paralympian and 2012 Boston Marathon winner Josh Cassidy of Canada; and 18-year-old Daniel Romanchuk, winner of the 2017 Utica Boilermaker 15K and AJC Peachtree Road Race—where the runner-up was Schabort, 35 years his senior.
In the open division, hoping to deny Kenya’s Sambu the chance to make history will be Leonard Korir, the 2017 USA Champion at both 10K and the half marathon and 2016 Olympian at 10,000 meters. Korir was runner-up to Sambu here last year, and finished 13th at the IAAF World Championships earlier this month in a personal best 27:20.18 to become the sixth-fastest U.S. 10,000-meter track runner in history.
Among their challengers will be Cam Levins, a 2012 Olympian for Canada and the 2012 NCAA Champion at both 5000 and 10,000 meters; and four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, 40, who last fall became the oldest man ever to make the New York City Marathon podium when he finished third. Abdirahman will be competing in Falmouth for the sixth time.
On the women’s side, a strong contingent will line up to challenge the 23-year-old Chepkoech, a Kenyan who in 2016 had a breakout season on the U.S. road circuit with podium finishes in all nine road races she contested. Leading the charge will be past Falmouth champions Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia (2009), who has won three major 10K road races this year, and three-time Olympian Diane Nukuri of Burundi (2015).
The Americans will be led by Neely Gracey, runner-up this year in the USA 25K and half marathon championships; Jessica Tonn, a surprise fourth in the USA 10K Championships last month; Lindsey Scherf, the 2015 USA 25K Champion; and Erin Finn, a 10-time All-American at the University of Michigan. They will join Kenya’s Lineth Chepkurui, 2012 winner of the AJC Peachtree Road Race and Utica Boilermaker 15K, and Mary Wacera, winner of this year’s Boilermaker 15K and World’s Best 10K—the latter over runner-up Daska.
Chepkoech will be looking to defend not only her 2016 women’s crown but also her title as winner of “The Countdown,” sponsored by Aetna. A beat-the-clock handicap race, “The Countdown” features a finish-line clock that starts when the first woman breaks the tape, counting down the number of minutes and seconds the winning man has to beat, according to a pre-determined formula. If the clock runs out before he crosses the finish line, the victorious woman gets the $5000 bonus; if it doesn’t, the man will take it home.
Based on the average gap between the winning times for men and women over the past 10 years of the race, the clock will tick down from 5 minutes and 27 seconds.
The 45th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be Sunday, August 20, 2017. 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, Inc. organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.