Organizers of the 98th annual ING Bay to Breakers 12-K, scheduled for Sunday, May 17, in San Francisco, have recruited an excellent field led by Kenyan Sammy Kitwara and American Deena Kastor. These two athletes will actually be competing for the same $25,000 Battle to the Breakers bonus where the men's leaders try to catch the elite women who have been a four minute and 40 second headstart. Add in the special $5000 bonus for leading the race at the top of Hayes Street Hill in the third mile and it is possible for one athlete to win a $37,000 check ($38,000 if that athlete is an American).
Kastor, who went to high school in California and now makes her home there in Mammoth Lakes, is the race's top star. It will be the first time the 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist will compete in the Bay to Breakers. Kastor hopes to become the first American winner since Lynn Jennings in 1993.
"We are exceptionally thrilled to have Deena head the elite field," said Josh Muxen, the race's elite athlete manager. "Deena is always a tough competitor, which will serve her well - taking on defending champ Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya will be no walk in the park."
But Kitwara, who won both the World's Best 10-K and City-Pier-City Half-Marathon earlier this year, may end up being Kastor's biggest rival. Kitwara ran a course record 27:26 at World's Best race, then beat Haile Gebrselassie at City-Pier-City in 59:47, showing a strong kick. He and Kastor could be very close in the final meters. At last year's race John Korir kicked past Lineth Chepkurui in the final 400m to collect the bonus.
Other key contenders include Magdalena Lewy Boulet (USA), Edna Kiplagat (KEN), Jane Kibii (KEN), Mariya Konovalova (RUS), Abebu Gelan (ETH), Liliya Shobukhova (RUS), and Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN) on the women's side, and John Korir (KEN), Ridouane Harroufi (MAR), John Yuda (TAN), Bolota Asmerom (USA), Feyisa Lelisa (ETH), Gilbert Okari (KEN), Tilahun Regassa (ETH), Josh Moen (USA) and Linus Maiyo (KEN) on the men's side.