By the time Mo Trafeh had pulled away the winner's tape from his body Sunday, he was already trotting toward the heated elite athletes' tent in search of warmth he never found on his run, even after blowing out the pack to win the Twin Cities 10-mile for the second consecutive year by a good 45 seconds.
"I was trying to take my time to warm up, but to be honest I never warmed up," the California resident said, grinning now that his cheeks were warming. "So I said, 'You know what? I'm never going to warm up. It's really cold. So I might as well just go for it.' "
Temperatures in the 20s and 30s or not, he did, and he succeeded, winning in 46 minutes, 56 seconds. In the last half-mile, he passed women's winner Janet Bawcom (53:43), who started with a 6:31 lead in the "equalizer" aspect. Trafeh got the $10,000 bonus prize for crossing the finish line first, along with $12,000 for winning the race.
"I was really surprised the guys didn't catch me until the last 400 [meters]," said Bawcom, who also won last year's women's race but was passed by Trafeh around the 9-mile mark. Last season, the equalizer separation was seven minutes, but with a strong women's field, it was shortened.
Even with that change, it was a better race, though Bawcom said she thought the ladies had "given it away" after a mile 2 in which the pack clocked 5:47. Instead, she and a small group of women held off until the end. Bawcom, who topped last year's time by 32 seconds, finished second overall. Ben True (47:19) was second among men and Kara Goucher (53:56) second among women.
For Trafeh, it wasn't too much of a contest. Around the 5-mile mark, he took a 10-meter lead quickly.
"I was kind of behind some people, so I really didn't see the move and all the sudden I look up and he's like 20 meters ahead," said third-place men's finisher Jacob Riley, who finished in 47:22.
With 2 miles to go, Trafeh had edged the pack by about 70 meters. That was when he started seeing the flashing lights of the motorcycle that rode next to the front women, and he said he thought to himself, "Now is the time." As he pushed down the final hill to the finish line, he overtook Bawcom.
"We were trying to reel [Trafeh] in, but we never could. He just ran away. He was real strong today," True said.
But not so strong to not feel the cold's burn.
"I would love to get the course record," he said. "But it was really cold. The conditions weren't good for like a really fast time."