August 3, 2013

Beach to Beacon: Elite men

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — For much of Shore Road, after having separated himself from the rest of the field in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, Micah Kogo was content to tuck in behind his taller Kenyan countryman, Silas Kipruto.

click image to enlarge

Eventual winner Micah Kogo of Kenya tucks in behind Silas Kipruto near Pond Cove between Miles 4 and 5 of the Beach to Beacon 10K. Kogo went on to beat Kipruto by five seconds.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Race winner Micah Kogo, from Kenya, takes a moment to reflect after winning Saturday's Beach to Beacon at Cape Elizabeth on Saturday.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

MICAH KOGO

AGE: 27

COUNTRY: Kenya

OF NOTE: Former world record holder at 10K (27:01) and an Olympic bronze medalist, Kogo won the 2011 Beach to Beacon in 27:47. Gained notice in April with his marathon debut, finishing second (2:10:27) at Boston Marathon

It was just the two of them, wearing identical powder blue singlets, the lanky Kipruto and the sprightly Kogo cruising past Pond Cove and heading into the hills that begin near the Mile 5 marker.

Raindrops began to fall from an overcast sky, and Kogo decided to make his move. Two years ago, his serpentine tactics shortly after the race’s midpoint were enough to shake Lucas Rotich.

On Saturday morning, Kogo once more surged to the front and started weaving across the pavement. Call it the Kogo Go-Go.

“When I try to go zigzag, I was trying to push the pace higher,” he said, “because (Kipruto) was tiring.”

Sure enough, Kogo pulled away on the hills and squelched any thoughts of a Kipruto kick inside Fort Williams to win his second B2B title in three years. His time of 28 minutes, 3.2 seconds was 16 seconds off his winning time in 2011, but it was 5 seconds better than that of Kipruto.

The victory earned Kogo a $10,000 check and led a sweep of the top four spots by Kenyans, who have won the race 13 times in the last 14 years. Kipruto (28:08), Emmanual Mutai (28:21) and Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet (28:27) all finished before early leader Meb Keflezighi, 38, one of two U.S. Olympians among the elite men.

The other, Ryan Hall, stayed with the lead pack only through a 4:31 opening mile but had dropped back by the turn onto Old Ocean House Road. Hall finished 10th in 29:43, one place behind 23-year-old Gabe Proctor, a native of Ethiopia who recently graduated from Western Colorado State and whose adoptive parents live in Corinth.

“I have done a triathlon in Maine,” said Proctor, who is moving from Colorado to Mammoth Lakes, Calif. “It was in (Dover-Foxcroft), the first year it started. It wasn’t very fast but it was a lot of fun.”

On Saturday, the 27-year-old Kogo looked both fast and fun.

Larry Barthlow, the man who fills the elite fields, said it seemed to him that Kogo was toying with the other runners.

“We were one or two men short (of a truly competitive elite field) but it worked out OK because Meb did great,” Barthlow said. “It was perfect for the Americans to mix it up.”

Keflezighi led a pack of 10 through the first mile, a pack of seven through the second mile (4:43), and continued to lead through the third mile (4:28).

“About four miles or three and three quarters is when Silas and Kogo went away,” Keflezighi said. “I knew they were going to be the contenders. I thought the winning time would be anywhere from 27:45 to 28:03 and I’m not in that kind of shape.”

The leaders turned onto Route 77 and passed beneath the American flag draped between ladder trucks from the fire departments of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Kogo tested the resolve of the others by surging up a slight incline near the IGA shopping center.

“When I push, I see no reaction,” Kogo said. “Then I see only (Kipruto) will go with me.”

Together, they turned onto Shore Road for the long winding descent before the final hills approaching the fort. Kogo thought his marathon training – long, slow runs – might make outkicking Kipruto difficult.

“So I see that I need to do a little more because I might not have more speed to get to the finish line,” he said.

So he zigged. He zagged. It was enough to make Kipruto sag.

Kogo entered the fort with a comfortable lead, passed through the final bend and emerged into the grassy field near the lighthouse with a wide smile on his face.

“It’s fabulous,” he said, “a fantastic moment for me, winning for the second time.”
   
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH
 

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