International Team Challenge won by Eritrea’s Berhane and Ethiopia’s Daska; Flanagan surprises
BolderBOULDER, America’s All-Time Best 10K, today announced that 45,828 walkers, joggers and runners crossed the finish line this Memorial Day. After the “Citizen’s Race” which started at 7am and included 92 wave starts, 9 men’s and women’s teams from 7 countries took to streets on the exact same route in the International Team Challenge.
The International Team Challenge was developed in 1998 and it includes professional runners from all over the world that compete on three-person teams in a team by country format, for one of the largest non-marathon prize purse races in the country. This year’s total prize purse is valued at $145,240 before bonuses.
To make things more interesting this year, a third team was added to Team USA making up, Team Red, White and Blue and a team from Eritrea was formed to break up the Kenya vs Ethiopia rivalry.
“Eritrean athletes rarely race in the United States and they are competitive in the world racing scene, which should make for a very exciting men’s and women’s race” said BolderBOULDER professional athlete coordinator Don Janicki.
That plan worked well as the men’s individual International Team Challenge winner was Afewerki Berhane from Eritrea finishing the race in 29:11.37. It was Berhane’s first BolderBoulder, and he ran the second fastest time since Ethiopia’s Tilahun Regassa won in 28:17 in 2009.
He held off Kenya’s Allan Kiprono by 1.64 seconds, preventing him from becoming the first runner to win three straight BolderBoulders.
Team USA White’s Sean Quigley from Boulder, finished 7th overall was the top American finishing 30:04.67. Despite getting out a little quicker than he wanted, around 4:43 for first mile, Quigley started out about 15th overall and eventually got on with Ryan Hall and his group. They worked their way through the carnage from the heat and elevation, and was eventually able to put a bit of a gap on Hall and held on to the finish. “I couldn’t have done it alone. Running with him, made it more comfortable,” said Quigley.
This was Quigley’s second time racing for Team USA but he had to drop last year due to his achilles and was shattered to let down his team and the organizers. So he wanted to return to make up for last year.
Being from Boulder has its advantages, “It helps a lot, knowing the course, having friends on the course cheering you along.”
Besides top money, Quigley also collected the USA Bounty of $1,868 (the number arrived at being the year Memorial Day began,) by finishing higher than any member of a winning USA team.
Team USA Red, made up of Ryan Hall (Flagstaff, AZ), Luke Puskesdra (Beaverton, OR) and Bobby Curtis (Rochester, MI), finished 3rd in the team standings behind Ethiopia (2) and Eritrea (1).
In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska won her fourth BolderBoulder, dominating the field finishing with a time of 32:21.63. It was her fastest winning time in the BolderBoulder and second fastest winning time to a 32:13 by Kenya’s Delillah Asiago in 1995. The 43-plus second win over second place finisher, Team USA’s Shalane Flanagan, essentially matched her margin of victory in the 2010 race. It was the fifth win by an Ethiopian runner in the last six years (and the sixth overall).
Daska also won in 2009, 2010 and 2012; in doing so, she moved into sole possession of second place in the most titles won (breaking a tie with Deena Drossin-Kastor) . Only Rosa Mota has won more: 5 titles.
Team USA’s Shalane Flanagan, just off of a inspired Boston Marathon, ran a smart and strong race, finishing 2nd overall in 33:05.11.
Before the race, Flanagan stated, “Boston was the first marathon I ran from the gun, I just wanted to find out what I could do. [For BolderBoulder] I have no idea of how I will feel, elevation is a factor for me, I have a lot of respect for it and I haven’t been at elevation for a month. I am going to be really careful tomorrow as my team is counting on me. I’m hoping to surprise myself.”
Flanagan was born in Boulder but this is her first BolderBoulder.
“I was looking for something to inspire me and have fun after Boston. I knew the fitness was great, and I hadn’t lost much since then. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. I threw it out there to my coach and he knows that if I am passionate about something, I will do well at it.”
Team USA Red made up of Flanagan, Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, CA), and Sarah Hall (Flagstaff, AZ) took 3rd in the team standings behind and Kenya (2) Ethiopia (1).
Team USA Blue women’s team members Brianne Nelson and Mattie Suver also collected on the Bolder Bounty of $1,886 with their strong finishes of 11th overall, 3rd American and 13th overall and 4th American respectively.
“We know that professional athletes who are altitude trained consistently do very well at the BolderBOULDER,” said BolderBOULDER professional athlete coordinator Don Janicki. “The top three men’s and women’s team including the USA Red teams all have athletes that train at altitude.”
The event finished with a touching Memorial Day Tribute at the University of Colorado Folsom Field with over 100,000 people in attendance. Skydivers each carrying a flag from a US military branch landed in the center of the stadium and following, Brigadier General William F. Mullen conducted an enlistment ceremony with over 50 recruits. The ceremony also honored two World War II veterans, Dr. Richard Jessor from Boulder, CO and Jack Thurman from Longmont, CO. The day was then capped with a flyover from the Rocky Mountain Renegades, a group of professional and retired military pilots from along the Front Range of Colorado.