By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved; used with permission
BOSTON — Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi came here not only to win the 12th annual B.A.A. 5-K, but to also break her own women-only world record of 14:29 set in Herzogenaurach, Germany, last September. The 26-year-old Ethiopian knew she was in good form after winning the United Airlines NYC Half on March 20 in 1:07:35, and she was excited to race in the special elite women’s race which went off two minutes after the elite men.
The course was certified and pre-validated by USATF New England officials, so a pending world record could be declared right on the finish line.
But despite her best efforts, a strong headwind in the final two kilometers of the race put that record well out of reach, and the adidas-sponsored athlete had to settle for a course record of 14:49, instead, breaking Molly Huddle’s 2015 standard by one second.
“My main goal was the break the world record,” Teferi told reporters through a translator. “But as I’m thinking it’s a little bit windy, and (the course) turned up and the slope was a little bit higher, that’s why I don’t get my goal.”
From the gun, Teferi went right to the lead with only Under Armour’s Weini Kelati brave enough to chase her. Kelati was thrilled to have such a powerful woman to draft off of, and she tucked in for as long as she could withstand the pace.
“Just following Senbere,” Kelati told Race Results Weekly when asked about her strategy today. “I like to be at the front, and… I was just following her. I had no idea how long we had left because there was no time for the leaders on the motorcycle.”
The course goes west from Boston’s Public Garden before turning around to come back and finish in the same place. On the return trip, the wind was directly in the runners’ faces and it was a struggle to keep up a high pace.
“It was insane,” Kelati said about the headwind. “For me I’m pretty light. The wind blows and it just keeps pushing me. I was like, I wish I could stay behind her the whole time.”
Kelati kept her focus, and ran alone to second place in 15:04, a personal best by 14 seconds. Third place went to Flagstaff-based Kenyan Sharon Lokedi in 15:16, also a personal best, and former NC State star Elly Henes finished fourth in 15:22 in her first-ever professional 5-K road race.
Although the world record was out of reach today, Teferi was pleased to achieve a new course record which added a $5,000 bonus to her $7,500 winner’s check.
“I’m very happy to get the course record here,” she said.
On the men’s side, Canadian Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot executed his race plan perfectly, and got the win in 13:35, a personal best. The 31 year-old miler from Quebec City was coming off of a strong block of base training at high altitude and used his strength to control the race from the front, then build up a cushion against any strong sprinters who might challenge him in the final meters.
“I had a really good training stint in Flagstaff, and I’ve been working a lot on my strength,” Philibert-Thiboutot told Race Results Weekly moments after his victory. “I really wanted to run a good, good 5-K on the track before I start running 1500’s. I already have the standard for worlds so I’m kind of just working on my strength right now.”
Philibert-Thiboutot responded immediately to the race’s first move when Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi shot to the lead about one kilometer into the race. Kenya’s David Bett, the recent winner of the Cooper River Bridge Run, followed Talbi and Philibert-Thiboutot ran in their slipstream.
Sam Chelanga of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program was close behind but would eventually fade to seventh place at the finish.
The leading foursome hit the mile mark in a reasonable 4:24, then Bett was the next athlete to take the lead after the race went downhill, and back up again, under the Massachusetts Avenue overpass.
After the turnaround at Charlesgate West, Bett, Talbi, Philibert-Thiboutot and Chelanga went through two miles in 8:48. That’s when the tall Canadian eased to the front wearing long white socks and all-white New Balance racing shoes.
“I just drafted on the guys for the first two and a half miles, and when I felt that David Bett was kind of fading in the wind… I made a move to try to go past him,” Philibert-Thiboutot recounted. “I could feel he was struggling, so at some point when I felt like I had a step or two on him I just looked forward and never looked back.”
Running behind the leaders, New Zealand’s Geordie Beamish was hustling to catch up. The 3:54 miler has a vicious kick, and although Philibert-Thiboutot couldn’t see him he knew he would be coming.
“Geordie Beamish always has a killer finish,” Philibert-Thiboutot said. “So I had to work on having ground before the last straight.”
Indeed, Beamish mustered a ferocious kick over the last 175 meters along Charles Street and managed to pass Talbi inside of the final two meters to get second in 13:36 (Talbi was given the same time).
Willy Fink was one second behind in fourth in 13:37, and steeplechase Olympian Mason Ferlic got fifth in 13:39. Bett faded in the last 400 meters and had to settle for sixth in 13:42.
Like Teferi, Philibert-Thiboutot earned $7,500 in prize money. He is the first Canadian, male or female, to win the race.
Today’s race was the first edition of the B.A.A. 5-K in three years, shut down by the pandemic in both 2020 and 2021.
PHOTO: Senbere Teferi wins the 2022 B.A.A. 5-K in a course record 14:49 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Charles Philibert-Thiboutot wins the 2022 B.A.A. 5-K in a personal best 13:35 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)