Faced with a classic dilemma — and with little time to consider his choices — Shadrack Kipchirchir asked himself: Should I stay, or should I go?
The defending TC 10 Mile champion had to decide whether to pursue the women who were leading the race, putting himself in contention to win a $10,000 bonus, or confine his focus to winning the men’s crown. “You have to think a lot, and there are a million thoughts,” Kipchirchir said. “It’s kind of frustrating.”
It’s a lot less frustrating when things work out as they did Sunday. Kipchirchir, of Colorado Springs, won the race, the bonus and the U.S. 10 Mile championship, then clocked a course record of 46 minutes, 32 seconds for good measure. While he repeated as men’s champion, Sara Hall did the same on the women’s side, edging Molly Huddle by one second to win in 52:47.
The TC 10 Mile offers an “equalizer bonus,” giving the women a head start and paying $10,000 to the first athlete — man or woman — to cross the finish line. This year, the women started five minutes, 45 seconds before the men. After a photo finish for the bonus last year, Kipchirchir caught up with Hall and Huddle just before Mile 9, then held off training partners Leonard Korir and Stanley Kebenei to win the men’s title and a total of $22,500.
“I was just focusing on, ‘Where are the girls? Where are the girls?’ ” said Kipchirchir, a 2016 U.S. Olympian in the 10,000 meters. “When I saw them, I was excited. But at the same time, I was nervous, because I still had two guys I was trying to beat.
“It’s pretty amazing crossing the finish line first. I felt really strong.”
Korir was second in 46:35, and Kebenei was third in 46:39.
Hall’s hammy holds up
Last Thursday, Hall felt “100 percent sure” she would not be running Sunday. A sore hamstring had flared up, and she didn’t want to risk injuring herself before her big race this fall, the Oct. 28 Frankfurt Marathon in Germany.
“I changed my mind and said, ‘I’m just going to go for it,’ ” said Hall, who trains in Flagstaff, Ariz. “So this was kind of unexpected.”
Hall and Huddle, who also trains in Flagstaff, ran side-by-side for much of the race. They were pushed by Elk River native Emma Bates, who finished third in a personal-best time of 52:51. Bates also was third at the U.S. 20K championships last month.
“I’m super happy,” Bates said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to catch them, but I kept plugging away. But they’re such strong finishers.”
Cool temperatures and dry conditions Sunday helped limit the number of runners who sought treatment from the race’s medical staff. Twin Cities in Motion, the race organizer, reported that 52 people were treated in the medical tent at the finish line. One runner was transported to a medical facility for additional treatment.
The official high temperature during Sunday’s marathon was 51 degrees, the chilliest since a frigid 39-degree high in 2000.
• The top Minnesota woman in the marathon was Tierney Wolfgram of Woodbury (sixth, 2:40:03), and the top man was Tyler Jermann of Burnsville (fifth, 2:19:39). In the TC 10 Mile, Bates was the top woman with Minnesota connections, and Hopkins High School graduate Reed Fischer was 12th among the men (47:50).
• The champions in the wheelchair division were Hermin Garic of Utica, N.Y. (1:53:00) and Rebecca Walker of Little Canada (3:01:13).
• Both the number of entries and the number of finishers for the marathon declined from 2017. Sunday’s race included 9,402 entrants and 7,176 finishers, compared to 9,915 entrants and 7,518 finishers last year.