The elite 4 kilometer men's race was the statement event of the day in Edinburgh, Scotland today. With Olympic champion and World Champion Asbel Kiprop, and multi World and Olympic champion, Kenenisa Bekele, among others.
Garrett Heath, winning Drake Relays road mile,
photo by PhotoRun.net
For Garrett Heath, it was his first race over hill and dale in five years. And, like his last race for BUPA, it was a charm! Garrett Heath is two for two in BUPA races now, having won the Bupa Great City mile in Newcastle in September 2013 and now the Bupa Great Cross Country Challenge 4k invitational challenge today, January 11, 2013.
The four kilometer race is a seldom raced distance in cross country. It used to be part of the World Cross Country Championships, but that has been discontinued.
A two loop distance, it is a great distance for milers, half milers and middle distance runners.
For Garrett Heath, it was a particularly nice distance. " I had not run a cross country race in five years," noted Heath.
When asked about the two kilometer loops, Garrett was all smiles: "The footing was pretty good. I liked the creek crossings, where I landed right in the water in my shoes."
The race went out pretty hard, for the first 500 meters or so, then, with Jonathan Taylor leading, Meseresa Kahsay, Asbel Kiprop, Garrett Heath followed, with James Magut and Kenenisa Bekele following. Chris Thompson was in seventh or eighth, heading the chasing pack.
The course had high grass, with spots of mud, and some treacherous footing on the back side of the course. The hill was short and sweet, and the normal suspects followed Taylor until the start of the second lap.
Garrett Heath was now, warmed up and in the thick of it. Meresa Kahsay looked good, with Asbel Kiprop floating from third to first. It looked, halfway through the second loop, that Kiprop just might defend his title from last year.
But, it was not to be...
Garrett Heath took off up the hill, with about 600 meters to go, and while Kahsay followed in a lukewarm manner, Asbel Kiprop did not match Heath's move. " I went up the hill and wondered what would happen...I did not have a plan today, I wanted to see how I could run cross country." noted an ebullient Heath.
When asked about his training, Garrett noted that, while all of his possessions are in a storage unit in Palo Alto, he has been up in Portland with his brother. Training has gone well and he is strong at this time of the season.
Garrett Heath's strength won out today. Heath took the win in 11:51 for 4,000 meters, with Meresa Kahsay in second in 11:52, and Asbel Kiprop, the defending Bupa champion, Olympic and World Champ over 1,500 meters, in third, in 11:58. James Magut took fourth in 12:00, Kenenisa Bekele in fifth and Chris Thompson in sixth.
Just where will Garrett Heath take his winning form after this? " Well, definitely indoors, hopefully New Balance Indoors in Boston and maybe Millrose Games." noted a relaxed and confident Heath. " I will probably do a 1,500 meters and maybe a 3,000 meters." adde Garrett.
One thing is for sure. The guy from Stanford who loves to travel in the shadows is developing some real racing chops. A fine kick over the last 500 meters, Garrett Heath will focus over the next few years to make that team for Rio. And as Heath's name is mentioned in his "surprise wins", those wins, which will come faster, will no longer be, "surprises". The two time winner of BUPA events will begin to add a few more victories to his c.v.
We wish him luck.