The New York Mini - the world's oldest women-only road race - attracts the top female runners for this 10K event. Last year's event featured sunny skies and a surprise ending as underdog Asmae Leghzaoui of Morroco ran away from the field and set a new world record of 30:29. This year's event featured rain and an expected ending, as Lornah Kiplagat (who holds the Kenyan 10K record of 30:32) finished ahead of the largely Kenyan contingent, winning the race by more than 20 seconds, in a time of 31:13. Kiplagat finished second in this race in 1997 and 2002. Despite running thirty seconds slower than her time in 2002, Kiplagat still ran a time that was faster than the personal records of all but one of her competitors (Catherine Ndereba).
Kiplagat led the race from the beginning, running a blistering 4:47 for the first mile and 15:22 for the first 5K. After Kiplagat, there really was no race for second place, as Susan Chepkemei, who holds the world record in the half-marathon, and was the fourth-place finisher at this year's London Marathon, ran unchallenged and alone in the second position - finishing in a time of 31:35, just two seconds behind her PR at the 10K distance.
Ignoring the first two runners, the remaining elites ran a close and tactical race. Eleven women passed the 5K (halfway point) within four seconds of each other, all vying for third place (at the 5K they were thirty seconds behind Chepkemei). The group was essentially intact with 400 meters remaining in the race, but at the end a strong Margaret Okayo moved into third place (32:26) beating the hard-charging youngster Jane Kiptoo (32:27), and veteran Catherine Ndereba who arrived in fifth position (32:29). For Okayo, who does not often run the 10K, this was a PR by 12 seconds, giving her a well earned third-place finish.
Helena Javornik, in a strong sprint, finished sixth in 32:30. This year's Boston Marathon winner, Svetlana Zakharova finished in seventh place in 32:31. Jennifer Rhines, who was the second American and seventh finisher in 2002, completed this year's course in eighth place, at 32:34. Ludmila Petrova, the 2000 NYC Marathon champion, and this year's third-place finisher at the London Marathon, repeated her 2002 Mini performance to finish in ninth place, in 32:38. Christine Clifton rounded out the top ten, as she finished in 32:44. And in a repeat of their finish at the New York City Marathon, 2002 NYC Marathon Champion Joyce Chepchumba (32:47) arrived one place in front of NYC Marathon runner-up Lyubov Denisova (32:47).
For winning this year's New York Mini, Lornah Kiplagat picked up $10,000, plus an additional $1,000 for finishing in a time under 32 minutes. As an added incentive in this year's race, the New York Road Runners Club announced that they would give a bonus of $100,000 to any woman who won both the Mini and the New York City Marathon this year. Although it has not been announced yet, we assume that Lornah Kiplagat will be coming back to New York in November for a shot at that prize!
Although we wrote only about the top ten women in this year's race, a total of 3,463 women finished the race, and they are all winners - participating in a race launched at a time when women were banned from participating in marathons.
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Some of the Elite women at the start. L-R: Hayley Yelling, Susan Chepkemei, Helena Javornik, Joyce Chepchumba, Ludmila Petrova, Carol Howe, Meghan Moriarty, Svetlana Zakharova, Zivile Balciunaite, Jane Kiptoo
The start of the race - off and running.
Approaching mile 5, Lornah Kiplagat was alone, nearly twenty seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
In second place, Susan Chepkemei, the world-record holder in the Half-Marathon, will finish three seconds behind her best time for the distance and more than 50 seconds ahead of the third place finisher.
With only 300 yards to go, the order of finishers will change significantly as these women run for third place. Front to Rear: Catherine Ndereba, Margaret Okayo, Svetlana Zakharova, Jane Kiptoo, Helena Javornik, Jennifer Rhines
Part of the local team competition, two Warren Street runners push to score for their team.