Experience proved to be the difference maker at the 16th annual B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, on Sunday, Oct. 8, in a race that weaved through the Back Bay, Fenway and ended at Franklin Park.
Kenyans Daniel Salel and Mary Wacera pushed through relentless rainfall and blustery winds to claim victory, defending their titles in 1:03:13 and 1:10:19, respectively. Both Salel and Wacera came to Boston eyeing a second straight win, and got the job done with defiant moves.
On a significant day for sports in New England, before Tom Brady returned to guide the New England Patriots, the B.A.A. Half Marathon served to kick off the City’s scheduled sporting festivities.
Salel was part of an eight-man pack through the five-kilometer mark, hit in 14:42. With a harsh rain falling and wind blowing across iconic Jamaica Pond, no one wanted to take a risk and make a bid for the lead. Salel, Abraham Kipyatich (Kenya), Tsegay Tuemay (Eritrea), and Eliud Ngetich (Kenya) were among the leaders to slowly pull away in the subsequent miles, creating a quartet that would cover the race’s middle miles as one. Japan’s Akihiko Tsumurai did his best to stay with the group going by the picturesque Arnold Arboretum.
Using his knowledge of the rolling course to his advantage, Salel ran in the midst of the pack conserving energy through the later miles. Aware of the looming hills and quick straightaway through Franklin Park Zoo, Salel moved up and knew the race would come down to the final two miles.
“I planned that maybe after the last mile [marker] I would try to surge and destroy the guys so I picked it up around the corner and pushed around there. I tried to go!” Salel explained. “I was comfortable because I knew exactly where I had to go and move. In the last mile I tried to move and go, I planned that. I knew I could destroy the guys there!”
B.A.A. 10K winner Daniel Chebii finished eighth in 1:05:26. The top American was Patrick Geoghegan of Portland, Ore., placing tenth in 1:07:39.
In the women’s race, Mary Wacera took off from contenders Diane Nukuri (Burundi) and Valentine Kibet (Kenya) after the five-mile mark and never looked back. Determined to retain her title, Wacera kept her foot on the gas pedal and began chasing the men racing ahead of her.
Though Nukuri and Kibet did their best to chip away at the gap Wacera had created, the pace was simply too quick to match. Despite the inclement conditions, Wacera held a pace that was slightly faster than her 2015 winning tempo; a year ago she won in 1:10:21 under perfect conditions. Comfortable with running out front, Wacera said she was confident controlling the race from the pole position.
“The rain, the weather, I am happy to win today. To run a better time than last year is really good and amazing. The weather was very tough, it was raining the whole way on the course and I was running alone so it kind of hurt, but I am very happy!” said Wacera. “It’s very special for me to come and defend my title.”
In total, 6,363 participants started the 2016 B.A.A. Half Marathon. In the field were nearly 500 runners representing Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds to improve patient care and research at Dana-Farber. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund have presented the B.A.A. Half Marathon annually since 2003. Over the past 13 years, Dana-Farber runners have raised more than $5 million USD through the B.A.A. Half Marathon.