| 2010 Healthy Kidney 10K
by Sharon Ekstrom
The 10K - One of the Great Distances
The 10K holds a unique place in running as a cross-over distance that is held on both the track and the roads. When track runners make their leap from the 400m flat oval to the tarmac and hills, they will often start with the 10K. The 10K is also a distance from which it is easy to recover and races can generally find deep fields.
The 10K has a long history, with a number of famous 10K races in North America, including Peachtree Road Race, Bolder Boulder, Cooper River Run, Beach to Beacon, Crescent City Classic and the World's Best 10K. Besides the prestige of these races, two of them - Peachtree and the Bolder Boulder - rank as the two largest running events in the country.
The UAE Healthy Kidney 10K - Since 2000
In 2000, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former president of the United Arab Emirates, received a Kidney transplant in New York and in appreciation for his care and to promote kidney health, the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K was founded in 2005. From the beginning, the race was built to rival the other prestigious 10K roadraces in the nation, although event organizers were forced to hold the race on a hilly course not built for speed.
Beyond a strong prize purse, the Healthy Kidney has offered each year a $20,000 bonus to anyone who breaks the course record. The bonus was claimed by Dathan Ritzenhein with a 28:08 in 2007 and then in 2009 Healthy Kidney saw a new course record set as Tadese Tola ran under 28 minutes (27:48), a world-class time and surprising on the hilly course.
A Deep, Deep Field + a Bonus For Speed
Tadese Tola did not return to the Healthy Kidney to defend his title, but the Healthy Kidney 10K recruited an interesting group of runners including two men who hoped to break the course record, three top men making their road 10K debuts and a previous marathon world record holder testing himself in his first road race in three years due to injury. Also in attendance were five former Olympians and, in all, arguably the deepest field in Healthy Kidney 10K history.
Before the race, we spoke with Peter Kamais and Gebre Gebremariam who told us that planned to work together to break the course record - running together for most of the course and then seeing who could traverse the final few hundred meters fastest. Peter Kamais was the reigning champion from the New York City Half Marathon a race which incorporates the 10K used in the Healthy Kidney course and a race in which Kamais broke 60 minutes in a Half Marathon and outlasted one of the greatest runners in history, Haile Gebrselassie. Gebre Gebremariam had been fourth at the Olympics (the 2004 Olympic 5,000m) and had the fastest 10,000m time in the field, 26:52.33 on the track at Hengelo in 2007. Of special note to marathon afficienados, both men told us that they were eyeing Fall Marathons - Kamais seemed to indicate that it might be New York, while Gebremariam would wait until some days after this race to make his choice.
The Race + The Record
From the beginning, Kamais and Gebremariam took the lead and ran alone together - both on course record pace. It would be a race between two men for the win and the record. Kamais told us afterwards that he knew Gebremariam most likely had the stronger kick, so Kamais tried to break away from Gebremariam beginning at the 5K mark and through the back of the loop course, but he could not. The two remained nearly in lock step through six miles, when Gebremariam did what Kamais was afraid might happen - he shot ahead and ran hard to a new course record: 27:41. Kamais, beaten and without a $20,000 incentive ran in to finish in a strong 27:49, just short of the previous course record. Julius Kogo, a late entrant from Kenya, ran an incredible PR to finish third in 28:19. Chris Thompson, a Brit training with Nike in Eugene, finished fourth in 28:25. Alistair Cragg of Ireland, training with Mammoth Track Club, finished fifth in 28:33. Abdi Abdirahman, a previous US 10,000m record holder and three-time Olympian, finished sixth in 28:35.
Khalid Khannouchi - First Race Back
We knew he wouldn't win, but we were as interested in watching Khalid Khannouchi's performance at the Healthy Kidney 10K - his first road race in three years. Khannouchi - the two-time world record setter in the Marathon and the first man to break 2:06 in that distance - has been an inspiration to runners for more than a decade. Plagued by foot problems, Khannouchi finished fourth at the 2007 USA Olympic Marathon Trials, just missing a chance to run for the USA at the Olympics and has not run a race since. With two surgeries and literally barely able to walk for many months, Khannouchi made his return to road racing at the Healthy Kidney 10K. To talk to Khannouchi before the race, the excitement - and worry - that comes with the first run back was evident. And after the race, Khannouchi couldn't have been happier: filled with the joy of being able to run and race; and not at all worried about time. Many of us can relate to those same feelings, but to see it in an athlete of Khannouchi's talent and lineage is inspiring. We should never give up.
|Video: Khalid Khannouchi talks about Returning to Running After Two Years - 1:09|
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