Huddle and True break American 5k records as Ethiopians rule the mile in Boston, by Cathal Dennehy

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Cathal Dennehy wrote this piece on the Boston 5k and Boston miles on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The BAA has made it a fixture of the weekend! Nice job, BAA! 

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Molly Huddle and Ben True, Boston 5k, photo by PhotoRun.net

Huddle and True break American 5K records as Ethiopians rule the mile in Boston.

On a beautifully crisp morning, blanketed in April sun, a host of elites turned up the heat at the BAA Mile and 5K events today, races which proved the perfect appetiser ahead of the main course on Monday, the Boston Marathon. 

The morning dawned cool and sunny, but as soon as the gun fired at 8:30am for the BAA 5K, Americans Ben True and Molly Huddle showed why they are two of the hottest properties in American distance running, racing away in their respective races to both set American 5K road records. 

For True, who kicked away from Kenya's Stephen Sambu to win the men's race in 13:22 - taking two seconds off Marc Davis's previous record - the record was just as important as the win. "I was watching the clock and making sure I was going to get the record," he said.   

True had run with Sambu for much of the race, as they worked together to reel in earl leader Philip Langat, which they did just past the two-mile mark, and the pair soon separated from the pack as they neared the finish in Boston Common. At the finish, True held off Sambu by one second, 13:22 to 13:23, with Daniel Salel taking third in 13:27.

Maginificent Molly is feeling like a champion

The women's race proved just as competitive and, much like the men's event, saw an American hold off the might of East Africa to take the win - Molly Huddle digging deep to kick clear of Sentayehu Ejigu and Mamitu Daska and set a new American record of 14:50, the Ethiopian pair finishing just behind in 14:51 and 14:52 respectively. Huddle's mark broke Deena Kastor's previous US record of 14:54. 

"I didn't know if I could pull out the win," said Huddle afterwards. "The field was so good. I just kind of hung on for dear life." Huddle sheltered in the main pack for the first two miles as Daska broke away, but the pack regrouped with a little over a mile to run. "I did the math and realized even though I was in about fifth, sixth place, I was on American record pace so that gave me more momentum for the last mile." 

It was only inside the final quarter mile that Huddle shot to the front, using her knowledge of the course to best effect around the final few corners. 

"This is new territory for me," said Huddle, whose performance was just four seconds behind the 5K road world record, held by Ethiopia's Meseret Defar. "I think the 5K world record will get chipped away. I think this is a good place to do it. It's a lot to wrap my mind around."

BAA Miles: Ethiopians Rule the Road

While the early morning belonged to the home contingent, the late -morning BAA road miles were ruled by a pair of dominant Ethiopians, as Dejen Gebremeskel and Dawit Seyaum raced away to convincing wins. 

Gebremeskel, who was Olympic silver medallist in 2012 over his speciality distance, the 5,000m, raced to the front on the first of three laps in the men's race, with only Britain's Chris O'Hare daring to match his pace. O'Hare's plan soon backfired, though, and by the time Gebremeskel came through with 550m to run, he had a commanding lead over second-placed Duncan Phillips. 

In the end, none of the mile specialists could handle the strength of Gebremeskel, and his winning time of 4:04.1 left him almost three seconds clear of O'Hare in second (4:07.0) and Frezer Legesse (4:08.1) in third. 

"I was expecting it would be too short for me," said Gebremeskel afterwards, who revealed he had been sick during his below-par performance at the Carlsbad 5K in recent weeks. "I wanted to check my speed, to see whether I was good or not. I wanted to move early and I was happy with the way I ran."

In second, O'Hare was relatively content with his performance, though left with a tinge of regret. "When I saw him go out hard, I went right on his heels," he said. "It would have been better if I sat back with the group and chased him from 10 metres off and really ran a good last lap instead of running well the first lap, a pretty shitty second lap, and a good third lap. It's okay." 

Super Seyaum

In the women's race, 18-year-old Dawit Seyaum, a world junior champion over 1500m with a best of 3:59.53 for 1500m, was equally devastating as fellow Ethiopian Gebremeskel, taking the lead from the start and burning off the challenge of Morgan Uceny, who ran with Seyaum through the opening two laps. "It was better for me to push [from the start]," said Seyaum. "After the first lap, I was confident I would win."

In the end, though, the youngster simply had too much for the veteran American Uceny, winning in 4:35.4. Ucency (4:37.7) was passed in the shadow of the winning post by fast-finishing Heather Kampf (4:37.0), who took second. "Dawit got a really good jump on me but I just didn't quite have it that last stretch," said Uceny.

After the race, Seyaum revealed she hopes to run 3:57 for 1500m this year, compete in some diamond league races, and then represent Ethiopia at the World Championships in Beijing. Given her performance here, making it to Beijing looks a formality, and if her improvement curve continues its current ascent, a medal may well be on the agenda.


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