By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
BOSTON (13-Oct) -- Running with patience and unleashing a ferocious move with roughly a kilometer remaining, American Jordan Hasay took home top honors here at the Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women in a personal best of 31:38.3. Hasay, 23, waited for the right moment to strike, separating from Kenyan Caroline Rotich and going on to become the first American winner since 2011. Hasay narrowly missed Molly Huddle's national record for an all-women's race: 31:37.
"It's just really cool, to have an all-women's race too. I love Boston," Hasay told reporters, sporting a laurel wreath and bright smile. "Everyone just has a lot of heart, joy, and passion here."
Taking off from the start adjacent to the Boston Public Garden, Hasay found herself beside Rotich and Risper Gesabwa at the front of a large lead pack of 25 women. Rotich took it upon herself to head the charge, crossing the Charles River via the Massachusetts Ave. Bridge after an opening mile of 5:12.
From there, the pack slowly but surely began to thin, first to 15 then ten. It was Gesabwa's move between mile two and three that would ultimately break the group down to six, hitting five kilometers in 15:57. Gesabwa, Rotich, and Hasay were joined by American Emily Infeld --second here last year-- and Ethiopians Azmera Gebru and Gotytom Gebreslase.
With her quick stride and determined gaze, Hasay appeared most at ease with the pace, clicking off kilometer after kilometer sometimes in front, other times tucked behind Rotich.
Between miles four and five things would get interesting, as Americans Sara Hall and Emily Sisson caught back up to the leaders, making it a group of eight crossing back over the Massachusetts Ave. Bridge. With back of the pack runners cheering loud on their left, Infeld moved to the front, appearing as if she'd be the one to test the waters and make a bold break.
But no move came, and all eight athletes turned onto Commonwealth Avenue together. Passing the five mile mark in 25:45, the race took a sudden, exciting turn. Three runners --Gesabwa, Infeld, and Hasay-- chose to run down the right hand side of the road, while Rotich and Gebru chose the left. The rest of the pack, including Sisson and Hall, had begun to drop back behind.
Unsure of whether the next turn would be a right or left, Hasay asked Infeld for directions. Infeld responded, telling her a right turn was ahead. Knowing she was running the tangent, Hasay continued on beside Infeld, hugging the right side of the street.
Although she trusted Infeld, Hasay second guessed herself. Just as Infeld began to fade, Hasay made a sudden move to the left hand side of the road, joining the East African tandem.
"I thought that they [Rotich and Gebru] were looking better," said Hasay, describing the impetus that made her veer left. "[It] was true because the woman [Rotich] finished second. I ended up going over there and then everyone followed... It was kind of weird!"
With roughly a kilometer remaining, Hasay began turning to the speed she recently showed at the Fifth Avenue Mile, injecting a surge that only Rotich could respond to. Less than a minute later Hasay found herself with a small lead.
"I knew someone would go the last kilometer at some point," Rotich told Race Results Weekly. "I was waiting for it but she was too fast."
Breaking the tape in 31:38.3, Hasay raised her hands in celebration. Rotich followed suit in second, timing 31:40.7, with Gesabwa rounding out the top three in 31:47.5.
Prior to the race, Hasay said she spoke with Joan Samuelson, a three-time victor here and winner of both the Boston Marathon and Olympic Marathon. Hasay's idol gave her words of encouragement and told her she looked fast --faster than when they saw each other at the TD Beach to Beacon 10-K in August. Hasay took the words to heart, gaining confidence and inspiration to fight for the win.
Bettering her 10,000m track lifetime best of 31:39.67, Hasay said she's taken a keen liking to competing on the roads. The relaxed atmosphere, combined with encouragement from the crowd and fellow runners, is something she loves.
"It's a very cool atmosphere, because track is so intense," she said. "At mile one I saw a dad and his little kid had made a sign saying 'Yay mommy, I love you.' That just put a smile on my face and is an example of what it [road racing] is all about, the fun of it and the joy."
Despite loving the roads, Hasay assured Race Results Weekly that she will stay primarily on the track at least through the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which she hopes to qualify for in either the 5,000m or 10,000m. After that, she said more frequent road racing is a great possibility; one of her goals is to race the Boston Marathon.
Outside of the top three was Gebru, fourth in 31:50.0, and Sisson, sixth in a personal best 31:56.6. Sisson attends Providence College and will compete for the Friars during the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor track seasons. Without cross country eligibility, the 23-year-old has found a niche on the roads; she finished fifth in 15:44.0 at the USA 5-K Championships on September 21 in Providence.
"I'm really pleased with it, it was a great race and great field today. I'm just really happy. The last mile was really, really hard but I'm pleased with it," said Sisson. "I'm really enjoying the road races. I've never done them before this year."
Infeld was sixth in 32:03.0, while Olympian Janet Bawcom took seventh in 32:11.3. Sara Hall was eighth in 32:13.7.
Notably, 40-year-old Jen Rhines finished 12th in 32:32.6, setting a pending American Masters record for 10-K. Rhines told Race Results Weekly her main priority entering the race was to help the Boston Athletic Association earn the USATF 10-K Team Championships title, which they did.
Katie Matthews (32:23, 9th), Rhines, and Juliet Bottorff (32:38, 13th) combined to time 1:37:34, defeating Boulder Running Company/Adidas and The Hive (Mizuno).
"We're really excited, we've been training really well and that was our goal today," said Rhines. "We got some really fast times out there as well, which is like a bonus."
The previous masters record was 32:50, run by Colleen De Reuck in New York in 2004.
PHOTO: The lead pack of the 2014 Tufts Health Plan 10-K for women (left to right): Risper Gesabwa, Emily Infeld, Jordan Hasay, Emily Sisson (partially obscured), Caroline Rotich and Azmera Gebru (behind Rotich). Sara Hall is running behind the pack. Photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly.