By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
SOMERVILLE, Mass., USA (02-Jun) — Although Muktar Edris’s 13:01.04 5000m was the most impressive performance on paper, a pair of Boston-based milers in Chris O’Hare and Emily Lipari put on a show at their hometown meet. The Boston Athletic Association runners, coached by Terrence Mahon, won back-to-back 1500-meter contests in exciting fashion, drawing an ovation at the second annual adidas Boost Boston Games at Dilboy Stadium.
Coming off strong runs at the Prefontaine Classic and USATF Distance Classic on the west coast, O’Hare toed the line with confidence, free of any pressure to hit qualifying times. The Scotsman positioned himself in the top four through two laps, side by side with Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo and Collins Cheboi.
Winding up in the penultimate then final lap, O’Hare steadily matched Kiptoo down the backstretch and into the final straight. Holding his ground on the inside rail, O’Hare fist-pumped his way across the line with a slim victory over Kiptoo, 3:39.31 to 3:39.54.
“Today I was just practicing being patient. I didn’t need to look at the clock, so I was just waiting til 150, 160 to go to try and open up. It just worked,” O’Hare said with relief.
With his seven-month-old son Ronan on hand, O’Hare spoke about the newfound perspective that’s helped him excel this season. “Just be relaxed about it. Ronan, my son, has been giving me a more mature outlook on life I guess. Just being like, it doesn’t matter if I’m up all night with a crying baby or I sleep soundly in a hotel. If you’re fit, you’re fit, you come out and if you’re fit you race well. That’s where I’m at right now.”
Moments before O’Hare ran to the win, Lipari moved up steadily in her own 1500m. Though Kalkidan Gezahegne went out strong and was far ahead after 800m, Eleanor Fulton, Dominique Scott-Efurd, and Lipari quickly caught up. Fulton, second at last night’s Adrian Martinez Classic mile in nearby Concord, led on the penultimate lap, yet Scott-Efurd and Lipari wouldn’t fold.
Into the homestretch it appeared Scott-Efurd had enough in the tank to win: she passed Fulton, and was only 15 meters or so from the line before Lipari drew even. Unleashing the same kick she displayed en route to winning last night’s Adrian Martinez Classic 800m B heat, Lipari nipped Scott-Efurd 4:12.32 to 4:12.48. Fulton was third in 4:12.80.
“I’ve got to stop letting people do that!” Scott-Efurd could be heard playfully saying in the moments after the hard-fought race.
“At this level, nobody gives up. That’s the biggest challenge,” said Lipari. “It took me a little bit to respond to the move, but when you’re that close and you can kind of smell blood, there’s just something I get deep down inside there that tells me to never give up. Sometimes you push yourself and sometimes you might lose. You have to kind of fail to see how much you succeed. I kind of did that today, try to not lose and that’s what I came away with. I came away with the win. I’m really excited with the result.”
O’Hare and Lipari both touched upon what it meant to win here in Boston, and the team dynamic under Coach Mahon that has helped each individual improve as the season has progressed.
“I think for all of us it’s a psyche thing,” said O’Hare. “We’re all bouncing off each other and feeding off each other’s positive mentality and just accepting that we all have the same goal. We’re all working together for it, and that’s a good spot to be in.”
The 1500-meter races were close, but fast times belonged to the men’s 5000m and 800m. In the 5000m, a time-trial duel pitted Muktar Edris against Cyrus Rutto. Once the pacers stepped off, the pair began trading the lead, lap after lap, hitting 3000 meters in 7:50.43. Aiming to dip under 13:00, Edris and Rutto kept clicking 62 and 63second laps as fans cheered standing on the outer lanes of the track.
Ultimately Edris had the better speed in the end, pulling away over the final circuit to win 13:01.04 to 13:03.44 (good enough for second and sixth, respectively, on the world list). “Under 13,” said Edris, disappointed in not achieving his goal. “Windy, and the track is very hard… I don’t know. Maybe if there were other guys we’re under 13 and qualify. If under 13 I qualify.” He’ll aim for the Ethiopian 10,000 meter team for the World Championships, but would like to run the 5000m if he doesn’t make it in the longer distance.
Dejen Gebremeskel was well behind the chase pack for most of the race but wound up third in 13:25.95 followed by Australia’s Sam McEntee (13:27.56) and Kenya’s Edwin Soi (13:28.24).
In similar fashion, the women’s 3000m was a time-trial of sorts with Buze Diriba and Sheila Chepkirui separating from the pack after 2000 meters. Diriba, first at April’s B.A.A. 5-K in downtown Boston, returned to the winner’s circle after passing Chepkirui in the final lap (clocked in 63.37 seconds). They’d run 8:45.44 and 8:45.94 for first and second.
Both Brandon McBride and Donavan Brazier couldn’t help but recall memories of collegiate racing during the men’s 800m. Brazier helped pull the field through 600 meters and seemed poised for victory, running strong just like he did at Texas A&M last year before turning pro. Yet in the final straight, Brazier began to run out of gas; conserving a bit of energy, McBride simply ran his younger foe down and brought Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski along for the ride past Brazier. They’d finish in that order, McBride (1:45.36), Lewandowski (1:45.76), and Brazier (1:46.01), with the first two earning World Championships qualifying marks.
“It felt really really good, especially since NCAA’s that was a hard loss and tough battle,” said McBride, referencing last year’s NCAA Championships when Brazier beat McBride 1:43.55 to 1:44.50 en-route to setting an American junior record. “Training has been going very well… I’m fresh and excited for the summer.”
The women’s 800m was tactical as well, with Charlene Lipsey moving from fifth at 400m to first at the finish. She was the only woman to dip under two-minutes, clocking 1:59.57 for the win. High schooler Sammy Watson was second in 2:00.78, believed to be the sixth fastest time in history by a prep runner.
Lipsey revealed interesting news in her post-race interview that training partner Ajee’ Wilson underwent surgery after the indoor season is on her way back to top form. She expects both she and Wilson to contend for spots on the World Championships squad.
An opening two laps of 2:04.48 dashed any hopes of breaking four-minutes in the Boys’ High School Dream Mile. Urged on by two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis shouting from the infield, Patrick Parker took the win in a still strong 4:03.99. He was presented a championship belt by Willis. Pre-race favorite Casey Clinger was third in 4:04.87, with Austin Hindman second (4:04.53).
Freshman Lexy Halladay ran 4:41.80 to out-lean Brie Oakley at the line (4:41.95), winning the Girls’ High School Dream Mile. Halladay’s final lap was clocked at 66.02 seconds and proved to be vital; she moved from fourth at the bell to first at the tape.
The adidas Boost Boston Games continue Sunday in downtown Boston, as sprinters and field event athletes take part in a street meet. Among the entrants are Wayde van Niekerk, Torie Bowie, and Jenn Suhr.