Obiri, Kiptoo claim victory in ideal conditions ahead of the field of 10,000 runners
FALMOUTH, Mass. –
The record books were rewritten at Sunday’s 51st running of the ASICS Falmouth Road Race. With temperatures in the low 70s and a wind from the west, course records were obliterated in the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions. In the men’s open division, a 19-year-old course record once thought to be untouchable was tied. Plus, one of the most dominant women in road racing moved her name into Falmouth history.
In the men’s open race, Kenya’s Wesley Kiptoo went hard from the gun. He led a pack consisting of John Korir, Edwin Kurgat and David Bett out of Woods Hole in a blistering 4:17 opening mile. By the time he hit the 5K mark, he had a 12-second lead. By 10K that lead had doubled. Kiptoo came screaming down the hill into Falmouth Heights and crossed the line as the clock ticked to 31:08. His finish ties the course record set by Gilbert Okari in 2004.
“I stayed consistent,” said Kiptoo, who finished fifth here last year. “The course is kind of up and down and I love that it challenges me.”
Kiptoo, an NCAA champion at Iowa State who trains in Flagstaff, Arizona, will make his marathon debut at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October. Korir finished second in 31:34 while Kurgat, another Iowa State grad, took third to complete the Kenyan sweep. Utah-based Clayton Young was the top American finishing fifth in 32:02.
The women’s race ended with another successful New England visit for Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. Obiri, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado came in as the reigning champion of the Boston Marathon and of this month’s Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine. She took a more conservative opening approach than Kiptoo, covering the first 5K at 5:09 per mile pace with Cynthia Limo, Buze Diriba and Vicoty Chepngeno on her heels. Just before the halfway point, Obiri made a move. She covered the next 10K at 4:55 pace, cruising to a 19-second victory in 35:13, tied for the second fastest time in race history and the fastest since 2002.
“I was thinking maybe I should make my move at four miles,” said Obiri, a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist. “The uphill was terrible for me, but I knew after that it was all downhill and it was an incredible finish.”
American marathon record-holder Emily Sisson of Providence, Rhode Island moved into second place just past the 10K mark to finish as runner-up in 35:32. That’s the fastest time ever by an American woman in Falmouth. Cynthia Limo of Kenya was third.
“I am always a little bit more nervous racing in the marathon build,” said Sisson who is also running Chicago this fall. “I feel tired, but it gives me confidence that I can race well. My goal was to get as close to Hellen as I could.”
The wheelchair division featured dominant performances by the sport’s two biggest names. The men’s race was won for the fifth time by Maryland’s Daniel Romanchuk. Romanchuk took 25 seconds off his own course record to finish in 21:23.
“It was a great day. Overall, just great conditions,” said Romanchuk, a Paralympic gold medalist. “Going along the ocean is a great way to end a summer of racing.”
Americans Miguel Jimenez-Vergara and Hermin Garic were second and third respectively.
Women’s winner Susannah Scaroni was actually the third wheelchair finisher across the line, coming in 30 seconds before Garic. Scaroni was unchallenged for seven miles. Her winning time of 24:38 broke the course record she set last year by 52 seconds. She was nearly five minutes ahead of second place.
“I always like pushing things farther and farther,” said Scaroni who clocked 32 miles an hour coming down the final hill. “I don’t think I have ever done a more beautiful course. I love hills so I cherish this course specifically.”
2021 Falmouth Champion Emelia Perry was second and Hannah Babalola took third.
Nearly 10,000 runners took part in the 2023 edition of the ASICS Falmouth Road Race. Founded in 1973 by Tommy Leonard, the race is an annual tradition for runners and walkers all over the world.
*photo credit: Kaite Morgan, DMSE Sports, Inc.
ABOUT THE ASICS FALMOUTH ROAD RACE, INC.
The 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 athletes, and recreational runners to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The nonprofit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.