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Posted: April 27, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: Malakwen Defends Get in Gear 10K Title; Misganaw Returns for Second Title in Three Years

By Charlie Mahler, Running USA wire

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - (April 25, 2009) - Sammy Malakwen decided to take his time - eighteen minutes to be exact - in order to win his second straight Get in Gear 10K title on Saturday morning.

The rangy, 30-year-old Kenyan waited until his watch read 18:00, before he surged to the front of the four man lead pack and promptly broke away for a 34-second win in 29 minutes, 17 seconds. Compatriot Japheth Ngojoy was runner-up in 29:51, while Team USA Minnesota's Antonio Vega was third (30:00).

In women's competition, Alemtsehay Misganaw of Ethiopia won her second Get in Gear women's title in three years with a runaway 34:47 victory.

Malakwen floated along in the four-runner men's lead pack through the race's wind-slowed early miles. Temperatures were in the 50s with breezy conditions, but the sun broke out just before the start of the race that calls itself "Minnesota's Annual Rite of Spring."

Running along the same Mississippi River Parkway that also composes the middle miles of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon each autumn, the pack, with either Ngojoy or Vega at the fore, ran steady 4:50 miles, hitting the half-way stripe in 15:00.

After cresting and descending the race's only major hill shortly thereafter, Malakwen waited until the clock struck 18 and then pressed the tempo. He passed 4 miles with a 10 meter lead in 19:09. A 4:31 fifth mile put him in front by 100 meters, and for good.

"When I saw that it was eighteen minutes," Malakwen explained, "I started to lead the race, because I knew I could finish in the same pace."

Malakwen, who finished just 16th in last year's Grandma's Marathon, earned $1000 for the win plus an extra $200 for breaking 30:00.

Vega, the 7th-place finisher at January's USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston, came into the race looking to run fast.

"When I saw that there was a group of four, I was, like, I'm going to be the top three, I just kind of knew that," the former University of Minnesota All-American said. "So I just kept pushing, pushing, and I think that kind of caught up with me a little bit at the end. When it was time to go, there wasn't much left in the legs."

Women's champ Misganaw returned to the 32nd edition two years after winning in 32:58, just six second outside Janis Klecker's course record. She missed last year's event while nursing a stress fracture in her left foot.

Misganaw, a New York City resident who trains in busy Central Park, never saw a challenger this year and soloed to victory. Amy Lyons of nearby Mounds View was second in 35:59 and 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Jenna Boren of St. Paul was third (35:59).

"It was just myself," Misganaw recounted. "Push, push, push. That's why I think the time was not good. Together, push is good, not alone."

More than 5,000 runners finished the Get in Gear 10K and its companion 5K and inaugural half-marathon event.

32nd Get in Gear 10K
Minneapolis, MN, Saturday, April 25, 2009

1) Sammy Malakwen (KEN), 29:17, $1200
2) Japheth Ngojoy (KEN), 29:51, $950
3) Antonio Vega (USA / MN), 30:00, $750

1) Alemtsehay Misganaw (ETH), 34:47, $1000
2) Amy Lyons (USA / MN), 35:59, $1000
3) Jenna Boren (USA / MN), 35:59, $500 

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