Ethiopians Sweep the 37th Annual CIGNA Falmouth Road Race

08/09/2009 - 17:28

Regassa_TilahunWave-09.jpgTilahun Regassa and Mamitu Daska are King and Queen of the Roads Stow, Mass. Native, Rebecca Donoghue finishes Second - FALMOUTH, Mass. – Waving and blowing kisses to the crowd, 19-year-old Tilahun Regassa led from the Woods Hole start to the Falmouth Heights finish. Regassa claimed the title in his inaugural Falmouth outing in 31:41 finishing virtually alone. His time was 33 seconds off the course record set by Gilbert Okari of Kenya in 2004 and tied the 4th fastest winning time. Trailing the Ethiopian 22 seconds later was Ridouane Harroufi, age 28, from Morocco in 32:03 and Edward Muge, age 26, from Kenya in 32:10.

Mamitu Daska, age 25, bettered her 2008 fourth place Falmouth time by 52 seconds crossing the line in 36:23. Rebecca Donoghue, age 33, also improved upon her 2008 8th place time by 35 seconds, finishing in 37:14 collecting winnings in the overall and American divisions.

Twenty-nine year old Edna Kiplagat of Kenya followed in 37:34. Daska’s victory follows her wins at this year’s Freihofer’s 5K Run and Bolder Boulder 10K.

Framed by a nearly cloudless blue sky, runners and spectators alike were treated to a flyover of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and a Falcon jet. Moments later at 10:00 a.m., the starter’s gun sounded sending the field on their 7-mile journey over the scenic seaside course. As a result of the near perfect weather, 8,950 runners crossed the finish line.

In the men's division, a group of 15 to 20 runners pulled out to the front with Regassa immediately sprinting to the lead before the first turn from Water Street onto Woods Hole Road. The field may have assumed the young Ethiopian would “come back to the pack,” but by mile one Regassa clocked 4:22 and he never relinquished the lead. Subsequent splits were: 8:44 at mile two; 13:18 at mile three; 22:30 at mile five and 27:03 at mile six. Regassa seemingly floated over the course, thoroughly enjoying center stage from mile three to the finish. At the six-mile mark Regassa looked over his shoulder and with a 20 second lead over the eight man chase pack knew, barring any unforeseen calamity, he had it won. After the race Regassa remarked that his fear of his competitors’ closing speed spurred him to the front runner role. Following Harroufi and Muge was Boaz Cheboiywo in 32:11 and Meb Keflezighi, age 33, of Mommoth, Lakes, Calif. The 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in the marathon, finished 5th overall and led the American men in a time of 32:12.

Thirty-year old fellow American, and Brookline, Mass. native, Jonathan Riley, finished second in the American men’s division and 12th overall in 33:15. Stephen Pifer, age 24, of Edwardsville, Ill. finished third and 15th overall in 33:38 which followed his second-place performance of 3 minutes 58 seconds in the Falmouth Mile held a mere 16 hours before the main race.

In the women’s division, Daska ran a strong race and after her win said she made her move at mile two and was confident that she could hold off Donoghue and the rest of the field. Her goal was to win, thus bettering her 2008 performance. Donoghue was ecstatic with her effort. She felt strong from the beginning after her 5th place finish in 32:46 at last weekend’s Beach to Beacon 10K. At mile two Donoghue put a surge and by mile three her second place was sealed.

By placing second in the American women’s division, as well as placing first in the masters division and 5th overall, former South African Colleen DeReuck, age 45, collected prize money in all three. She’s also a two-time Falmouth overall winner. Immediately following DeReuck, as third American, was Renee Metivier Baillie, age 27, from Flagstaff, AZ, in 37:56.

This year’s men’s wheelchair top three duplicated their last year’s placings. Winner, Krige Schabort, age 45, from Cedartown, Ga., finished in 24:11, 36 seconds off his 2008 course record.. Four-time winner, Tony Noguiera, age 41, of Glen Ridge, N.J. placed second in 25:57 followed by two-time winner Patrick Doak, age 41, of Carlisle, Mass. in 26:38. Jessica Galli, age 25, of Champaign, Ill., won her second Falmouth in three years in a time of 31:36. Ellie O’Neil, age 23, of Syracuse, N.Y. was second in 43:25 followed by defending champion Jacqui Kapinowski, age 46, of Point Pleasant, N.J. in 49:52.

Falmouth featured Olympian and three-time Falmouth winner Bill Rodgers, age 61, of Sherborn, Mass. who finished in 51:25; two-time winner, as well as Olympic Marathon Gold and Silver Medalist, Frank Shorter, age 61, of Boulder, Colo.; and six-time Falmouth winner and Olympic Gold Medalist, Joan Benoit Samuelson, age 52, of Freeport, Me. who breezed to a 41:27. The well-known father-son team, Dick and Rick Hoyt celebrated their 30th Falmouth finish in 61:45. Inspired by the legendary Hoyts another father-son team, Ricardo Lomas, age 42, and his son Sammy, age 15, from Venice, Fla., finished in an incredible 44:13. Mark Marsters, age 45, of Philadelphia, Penn., and CIGNA vice president, sponsorship executive finished in 50:19.

This is CIGNA's third year as the title sponsor. The Philadelphia-based employee benefits company has extended its commitment to the race through 2010.

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