Thursday, December 5, 2013
CAPE ELIZABETH — Micah Kogo, who hails from a small village in western Kenya called Burnt Forest, left his imprint on the 14th Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday morning.
Micah Kogo was on his own by Mile 4 of the Beach to Beacon 10K, having opened up a comfortable lead on fellow Kenyan Lucas Rotich. Kogo finished in 27 minutes, 46.9 seconds, becoming the 11th Kenyan champion in the race’s 14-year history.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Lucas Rotich, left, runs alongside Micah Kogo near the halfway mark. Kogo surged into the lead soon thereafter, leaving Rotich to settle for second place.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
BEST 10K: 27:01
OF NOTE: Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters in 2008. Has run world’s fastest road 10K this year, 27:15.
Call it a Toasted Field.
Halfway through the scenic 6.2-mile course that stretches from near Crescent Beach to a grassy field alongside the Portland Head Light, Kogo decided to ditch Lucas Rotich, the lone runner able to keep up with Kogo through the first three miles, which clicked by in 4 minutes, 24 seconds, 4:23 and 4:21, respectively.
“You don’t feel confident when somebody is following on your back stride,” Kogo said. “So you need to boost the pace.”
Upon turning onto Route 77 from Old Ocean House Road, Kogo took a serpentine path in an effort to shake Rotich from his right shoulder.
“Micah said, No, you’re not drafting off me,” said Larry Barthlow, the elite athlete coordinator who watched the race unfold from a lead media truck.
“Plus, mentally, it makes your life easier.”
After a few shimmies, Kogo settled in on the IGA side of the road, while Rotich stuck to the bike lane adjacent to Town Hall and the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, closer to the ocean and the upcoming right turn onto Shore Road.
After passing through the arch of fire truck ladders supporting an oversized American flag, Rotich realized his mistake: Kogo was in much better position for the gentle left bend preceding the upcoming intersection.
“Kogo knows much about tactics (in a) road race,” Rotich said.
“(This was only) my second time running a road race and first time running the course.”
Kogo, the Beijing Olympics bronze medalist at 10,000 meters who once held the world record for a 10K road race of 27:01, also knew of Rotich’s track speed and wanted no part of a kick through the backside of Fort Williams Park.
“I like a fast race,” Kogo said. “Because … I’m not good when the race goes slow and (runners) start kicking.”
Slow? No. This was not slow.
Kogo and Rotich reached the 5K mark in 13 minutes, 37 seconds. Maintaining the same pace all the way to the end would have shaved 14 seconds off Gilbert Okari’s course record of 27:28.
“It seemed like they went out quite a bit quicker this year,” said Australian Shawn Forrest, who was among a pack of six runners slightly behind Kogo and Rotich at the start of Old Ocean House Road, and strung out behind them by the time they rejoined Route 77.
Turning first onto Shore Road, Kogo coasted home without another threat. Through five miles, he remained two seconds ahead of Okari’s 2003 record run, but with no one to push him and the temperature and humidity rising, Kogo won in a time six seconds off last year’s pace, 27:46.9.
Rotich, the runner-up, finished nine seconds later.
Two-time champion Ed Muge was the only other runner to break 28 minutes (27:59), one second ahead of fellow Kenyan Kosea Mwok-Macharinyang.
Allan Kiprono, last year’s runner-up, was third for much of the early going but faded to fifth in the hills, at 28:12. Forrest, who finished eighth, broke up the string of seven consecutive Kenyans.
Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake City placed ninth and Okari, a three-time champion, was 10th.
The victory was worth $10,000 to Kogo. Prize money trickled down 10 places, from $5,000 for Rotich to $500 for Okari.
“I was hoping to win the race but I knew there was a strong field,” said Kogo, who plans to run the Falmouth (Mass.) Road Race next weekend.
“My training was good so, for me, I felt confident.”
Confident enough to shake a shadow, cruise along the coast and blow a kiss to the crowd in Fort Williams before breaking the tape.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: