World’s Elite Runners Descend Upon Falmouth

FALMOUTH — The fastest human beings on Planet Earth will be on Cape Cod Sunday morning.

Defending New Balance Falmouth Road Road Race champion Stephen Sambu of Kenya — who was a three-time, record-setting All-American at the University of Arizona — and Diane Nukuri of Burundi lead deep elite fields for the 43rd running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, organizers announced recently.

2014 New Balance Falmouth Road Race men's champion Stephen Sambu will return Sunday for the 43rd annual event and is favored to win. Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners

2014 New Balance Falmouth Road Race men’s champion Stephen Sambu will return Sunday for the 43rd annual event and is favored to win.
Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners

Among the top athletes challenging Sambu, whose time of 27:30 makes him the fastest man in the world so far this year at 10K, will be Micah Kogo, Moses Kipsiro, Daniel Salel, Sam Chelanga, Leonard Korir, Abdi Abdirahman, and Chris Derrick.

Nukuri, a two-time Olympian and national record-holder at eight distances, will have to contend with Sentayehu Ejigu, Sara Hall, Amy Cragg, Alexi Pappas, Neely Gracey, and Liz Costello.

Making his New Balance Falmouth Road Race master’s debut will be Meb Keflezighi, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon. Keflezighi, who turned 40 on May 5, will be attempting to make his fourth Olympic team at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in February.

In addition to an $8,000 first-place prize, the top men and women will be contending for a $5,000 bonus in “The Countdown.” New this year, a countdown clock will start when the female winner crosses the finish line; if the clock runs out before the male winner breaks the tape, the female champion will win an extra $5,000. If the male winner beats the clock, he takes home the bonus.

Based on the average gap between the winning times for men and women over the past 10 years of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, the time to beat will be 4 minutes and 32 seconds.

In the wheelchair division, defending champions Tatyana McFadden (USA) and James Senbeta (USA) will return to defend their titles. McFadden, 26, is an 11-time Paralympic medalist who has twice won the “Grand Slam” of marathons—Boston, London, Chicago, and New York—in the same calendar year, while Senbeta, 29, earned the biggest win of his career last year in Falmouth. Both athletes set course records in 2014.

Sambu, 27, not only leads the world so far this year with the fastest 10K time (27:30), but also finished 2014 ranked #1 in the world with a time of 27:25 and ran the fastest 8K ever (22:02) on U.S. soil on his way to winning the 2014 B.A.A. 10K. His winning time here last year for 7 miles was 31:46. Sambu trains in Tucson, AZ.

Nukuri, 30, is a two-time Olympian for her native Burundi, at 5000 meters in 2000 and the marathon in 2012. Her eight national records span distances from 1500 meters to the marathon, and she has twice finished as runner-up here, in 2011 and 2013. She trains in Flagstaff, AZ.

They will face:

Former Ivy League record setter Liz Costello, a Newton, Mass. native, is one of the elite women ready for Sunday's big race, seen here while competing at her alma mater, Princeton. Photo courtesy of Princeton University Athletics

Former Ivy League record setter Liz Costello, a Newton, Mass. native, is one of the elite women ready for Sunday’s big race, seen here while competing at her alma mater, Princeton.
Photo courtesy of Princeton University Athletics

Micah Kogo (Kenya), 29, a two-time winner of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race (2007, 2013); 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters; and former 10K world-record holder (27:01); Moses Kipsiro (Uganda), 28, a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist; two-time World Cross Country medalist (silver, 2009; bronze, 2010); and 2007 World Championships bronze medalist at 5000 meters; Daniel Salel (Kenya), 24, the 2007 World Youth Champion at 3000 meters and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medalist at 10,000 meters who in 2015 has won the B.A.A. 10K and led Team Africa to victory in the international Peachtree Cup competition at the AJC Peachtree Road Race; Sam Chelanga (Kenya), 30, a four-time NCAA Champion and NCAA record-holder at 10,000 meters; Leonard Korir (Kenya), 28, who won the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half by one second over Sambu; Abdi Abdirahman (USA/Tucson, AZ), 38, a four-time Olympian and eight-time national champion who will be competing here for the fifth time; Chris Derrick (USA/Portland, OR), 24, who has won the USA Cross Country Championships for the past three years and will be competing in only his third road race as a pro; Sentayehu Ejigu (Ethiopia), 30, the 2010 World Indoor Championships bronze medalist at 3000 meters and two-time fourth-place finisher at the World Championships 5000 meters; Sara Hall (USA/Flagstaff, AZ), 32, the 2011 Pan American Games gold medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase and 2012 USA Cross Country Champion; Amy Cragg (USA/Providence, RI), 31, a 2012 Olympian at 10,000 meters; 2014 USA 10K Champion and 2015 USA 15K Champion; Alexi Pappas (USA/Eugene, OR), 25, the 2015 AJC Peachtree Road Race Open Champion; Neely Gracey (USA/Superior, CO), 25, an eight-time NCAA Division II Champion who was 13th at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships; and Liz Costello (USA/Newton, MA), 27, who finished fourth at 10,000 meters in the Pan American Games last month.

Among the other top athletes expected are Christo Landry (USA/Bainbridge Island, WA); Aaron Braun (USA/Alamosa, CO); Andrew Colley (USA/Lenoir, NC); Zachary Hine (USA/Dallas, TX); Maks Korolev (USA/Concord, MA); Tara Erdmann (USA/Portland, OR); Clara Santucci (USA/Dilliner, PA); and Monicah Ngige Wanjuhi (Kenya).

Men’s Field
Abdihakim Abdirahim USA
George Alex USA
Aaron Braun USA
Sam Chelanga Kenya
Andrew Colley USA
Chris Derrick USA
Zachary Hine USA
Meb Keflezighi USA
Moses Kipsiro Uganda
Micah Kogo USA
Maks Korolev USA
Leonard Korir Kenya
Christo Landry USA
Daniel Salel Kenya
Stephen Sambu Kenya
Eric Ashe USA
Paul Gennaro USA
Jonas Hampton USA
Dan Lowry USA
Antony Taylor USA

Women’s Field
Liz Costello USA
Katie DiCamillo USA
Stephanie Dinius USA
Tara Erdmann USA
Sara Hall USA
Amy Cragg USA
salome kosgei Kenya
Monicah Ngige Kenya
Cally Macumber USA
Katie Matthews USA
Diane Nukuri Burundi
Alexi Pappas USA
Clara Santucci USA
Sentayehu Ejigu Ethiopia
Neely Gracey USA
Nikki Braceras USA
Hilary Dionne USA
Kaitlin Gregg Goodman USA
Sidney Letendre USA
Laura Nagel New Zealand
Sarah Pagano USA
Meghan Peyton USA
Rachel Sorna USA

— Story provided by www.falmouthroadrace.com. Edited by Capecod.com Sports Editor Sean Walsh. Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm. Email him at [email protected]

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