Monday's 31st running of the Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder 10-K in Boulder, Colo., will feature the 12th edition of the race's unique International Team Challenge, and the Ethiopian squads will be hard to beat. Teams, which are comprised of three athletes from the same nation plus British Commonwealth and Colorado state squads, are scored using traditional cross country scoring, and the top male and female teams will earn $15,000. There is also individual prize money and time bonuses to further sweeten the pot.
Ethiopia scored a scant 11 points in last year's competition, handily defeating their traditional rivals Kenya by nine points. Although only one of their athletes will return this year, Gebo Burka who finished third, the newcomers are top-notch: Tilahun Regassa and Tadese Tola. Regassa won both the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10-K and Cooper River Bridge Run 10-K earlier this year, and was second at last week's ING Bay to Breakers. Tola smashed the Central Park record for 10 km at last Saturday's Healthy Kidney 10-K (27:48) and is clearly in excellent shape.
The Kenyan men's team is also strong, led by veteran John Korir, fifth at Bolder Boulder last year, who will have support from Charles Munyeki (8th at Bolder Boulder 2008) and Philemon Terer Kiplangat. Team USA has two sub-28:00 10,000m runners on its squad, James Carney and Fasil Bizuneh, plus Bolota Asmerom, fourth at last year's USA Olympic Trials at 5000m. Mexico (Alejandro Suarez, Juan Romero and Teodoro Vega) should also contend for the podium.
On the women's side, the Ethiopian squad is also very strong, led by 2009 Chevron Houston Marathon champion Teyba Erkesso, who also won last Sunday's ING Bay to Breakers 12-K. Ashu Kasim Rabo, fourth at last month's Paris International Marathon in her debut, is also competing as is the lesser-known Mamitu Daska, fourth at last year's CIGNA Falmouth Road Race.
The Ethiopian women should get their biggest challenge from the Romanian and Kenyan teams. The Romanians, who won the team title last year with 18 points, have put marathoners Lidia Simon, Adriana Pirtea and Elena Daniela Cirlan on their team. Both Simon, the 2000 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, and Pirtea live in the Boulder area giving them a slight advantage from not having to travel and comfort with Boulder's mile-high altitude. The Kenyans have Caroline Cheptanui Rotich, Millicent Gathoni and Jane Wanjiku Gakunyi. Gathoni was the race's individual champion last year.
In 2008, the Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder 10-K was the largest fully-timed road race in the United States, recording 47,318 finishers, according to the trade group Running USA. It may be surpassed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race this year which, for the first time, plans to time all of its finishers. The Peachtree had 55,000 entrants last year.
Complete team listings.