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Posted: August 10, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: Regassa, Daska Win CIGNA Falmouth Road Race

Ethiopian duo cruise to titles at 37th edition; Keflezighi, Donaghue top Americans; nearly 9,000 finishers under near perfect weather

By Steve Nearman, Running USA wire

FALMOUTH, Mass. - (August 9, 2009) - Tilahun Regassa had no doubt on Saturday night that he was going to win the 37th CIGNA Falmouth Road Race Sunday in Falmouth.

It was a brash prediction he made to his agent and people hosting him for the weekend, especially in light of the company he would be keeping during the famed 7 mile gallop from the tiny fishing village of Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights: a former New York City Marathon winner, an Olympic Marathon silver medalist, two sub-2:07 marathoners and a three-time Falmouth champion who still holds the course record.

But 19-year-olds can be brash, sometimes to a fault. And when Regassa bolted to the lead just seconds after the opening gun and immediately opened a 25-meter gap on the pack, his much more experience competitors let him go...foolishly.

Regassa, an Ethiopian whose first trip to America was last year, laid down two consecutive 4:22 miles and never was challenged, winning in 31 minutes, 41 seconds and walking away with $10,000.

"It was a very, very nice race," he said through an interpreter. "This was my first time on the course and the course was very good for me."

Minutes after Regassa stormed downhill into the finish tape, Mamitu Daska gave their coach a sweep of the Falmouth titles, winning the women's race in 36:23. Daska, too, left no doubt who would dominate this race by striding into the lead before three miles and widening the gap on second to 51 seconds by the finish.

"I pushed the whole way," said the 25-year-old Ethiopian who sliced 52 seconds off her debut time here last year. "I am very happy with the time."

In Regassa's wake was a Who's Who of veteran professional road racers. As he passed three miles with a 23-second lead, the chase pack began to disintegrate.

"I wasn't sure which Ethiopian he was," said Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, the first U.S. finisher in fifth after two consecutive runner-up efforts here. "I thought he was an Ethiopian who would come back. He was out there sprinting, with his arms up. Everybody from Beach to Beacon (last weekend) was here. We thought he'd come back. Obviously he didn't. Sub-nine minutes at two miles. He can't do that by himself."

By four miles, the chasers tried to reel in Regassa, who won Bolder Boulder 10K in the third fastest time ever and smoked a 27:38.13 10,000m on the track this year. To no avail, as Regassa cruised ahead, looking back frequently, waving to the crowd and blowing kisses like he was on a training run.

"I tried to pick it up on the last 1½ miles," said runner-up Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi, on a roll with wins at Cherry Blossom and Utica amongst others. "I thought he'd come back. The last two miles I realized I was not going to catch him." Harroufi secured his second position in the last mile and finished in 32:03.

Kenyans Edward Muge, who led for more than six miles last year before succumbing to heat exhaustion, and Boaz Cheboiywo raced Keflezighi to the end, each separated by just one second in 32:10, 32:11 and 32:12, respectively. Three-time race champ and course record holder Gilbert Okari (2004-06) was 11th (33:04) and 40-year-old Kenyan James Kosgei was top master in 35:06.

Behind Daska, who also won Bolder Boulder 10K and Freihofer's 5K this year, was American Rebecca Donaghue from State College, Pa.

"I felt really good," said the 33-year-old University of Massachusetts grad who improved on her 10th place 37:49 last year. "I felt really good last weekend at Beach to Beacon. I ran a PR there and had a lot left. That was a great setup for me."

Donaghue, who grew up in Stowe, Mass. and spent summers as a youth in nearby Pocasset, kept a steady pace as she passed Kenyan Neriah Asiba into third at four miles and Kenyan Edna Kiplagat into second around five miles. Donaghue, the 1993 Massachusetts state 800 meter champion, said she was slowed for years with unresolved biomechanical problems but has been running pain-free since 2006.

American and four-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck of Boulder, Colo. was top female master in 37:40, fifth among women, at 45-years-old. Her husband Darren finished in 38:28, pointing out that his wife broke his streak of six consecutive victories over her.

Running legends Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Joan Benoit Samuelson also competed this year. Benoit Samuelson, 52, was the 18th women / 4th female master in 41:27, Rodgers ran 51:25 and Shorter, slowed after foot surgery, also finished. Race founder Tommy Leonard cheered on the field once again, with 8,950 finishers enjoying excellent weather.

37th CIGNA Falmouth Road Race
Falmouth, MA, Sunday, August 9, 2009

MEN
1) Tilahun Regassa (ETH), 31:41, $10,000
2) Ridouane Harroufi (MAR), 32:03, $5000
3) Edward Muge (KEN), 32:10, $2000
4) Boaz Cheboiywo (KEN), 32:11, $1500
5) Meb Keflezighi (USA / CA), 32:12, $6000
6) Samuel Ndereba (KEN), 32:29, $800
7) Hendrick Ramaala (RSA), 32:35, $650
8) Hosea Rotich (KEN), 32:36, $600
9) Richard Limo (KEN), 32:41, $450
10) Ibrahim Gashu (ETH), 32:57, $350
Other top U.S.
12) Jonathan Riley (USA / WI), 33:15, $3000
15) Stephen Pifer (USA / IL), 33:38, $2000

MASTERS Men (40+)
1) James Kosgei, 40, KEN, 35:06, $2500
2) Joseph Koech, 40, KEN, 35:10, $1000
3) Francis Burdett, 44, USA / MA, 36:00, $750

WOMEN
1) Mamitu Daska (ETH), 36:23, $10,000
2) Rebecca Donaghue (USA / PA), 37:14, $10,000
3) Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 37:34, $2000
4) Neriah Asiba (KEN), 37:37, $1500
5) Colleen De Reuck, 45, USA / CO, 37:40, $6500
6) Renee Metivier Baillie (USA / AZ), 37:56, $2800
7) Sally Meyerhoff (USA / OR), 37:58, $2150
8) Edith Masai, 42, KEN, 38:02, $1600
9) Sara Hall (USA / CA), 38:08, $1450
10) Aheza Kiros (ETH), 38:08, $350

MASTERS Women (40+)
1) De Reuck, see above
2) Masai, see above
3) Albina Gallyamova, 45, RUS, 40:49, $750
4) Joan Benoit Samuelson, 52, USA / ME, 41:27, $1000

Complete results at: www.falmouthroadrace.com


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