Daniel Salel and Mary Wacera splashed the fastest on Sunday in Boston.
Racing through a heavy rain that fell consistently from start to finish, Kenyans Daniel Salel and Mary Wacera won Sunday’s BAA 10K in 28:09 and 32:07, respectively. Salel made a decisive move in the final straightaway to pry victory from two-time defending champion Stephen Sambu, while Wacera overtook two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat in the final mile to win by eight seconds.
Through the early miles, Salel, third the last two years, found himself among a large pack of contenders that included Sambu, Boston Marathon course record holder and two-time BAA 10K winner Geoffrey Mutai, fellow Kenyans Leonard Korir and Philip Langat, as well as Germany’s Arne Gabius and Eritrea’s Yonas Mebrahtu.
With their feet sloshing through deep puddles on the roadway, the leaders reached four miles in 18:21 before Mebrahtu and Mutai began to fall off the pace. Mutai, the event record holder, was dressed in layers hoping to fend off the incessant rain, but couldn’t maintain the tempo set by Sambu and Salel at the head of the pack.
Through Kenmore Square, Salel and Sambu asserted their dominance, completing a 4:27 mile that left Korir, Langat, and Gabius five steps or more behind. The two leaders dueled down Commonwealth Avenue, around the Boston Public Garden and into the finishing straight adjacent to Boston Common.
Salel’s strategy was to surge with a kilometer to go, then again as he turned onto Charles Street with less than 400 meters remaining. It worked perfectly, as his final push created a 12-second gap over Sambu.
Maintaining his sprint through the finish, Salel finished in 28:09, followed by Sambu in 28:21. Korir rounded out the top three in 28:26 Mutai wound up seventh in 28:53, waving to fans as he finished. The top American was former University of Oregon standout Parker Stinson, ninth in 29:24.
“The conditions were tough because the rain and it was humid, but we try our best,” Salel said. “I think if it was not raining, we would have run a better time like 27:30.”
Women’s winner Wacera, the 2014 world half marathon silver medalist, was part of a strong Kenyan contingent that also included 2011 Boston Marathon and BAA 10K winner Caroline Kilel and Kiplagat. The trio quickly went to the front of the field, joined by Burundi’s Diane Nukuri.
Similar to the men’s competition, the women’s race took shape at the four-mile mark, as Kiplagat surged to break up the pack.
While Kiplagat charged out front, Wacera stayed calm. Having broken from Kilel and Nukuri, Wacera maintained her tempo before reeling in Kiplagat in the fifth mile. Wacera kept pressing, and hit the final turn in front. A strong last 400 meters pushed her margin to eight seconds by the finish.
With her win, Wacera took over the top spot in the BAA Distance Medley, which combines times from April’s BAA 5K, Sunday’s BAA 10K, and October’s BAA Half Marathon.
Kiplagat, who said she hasn’t trained much since finished 11th at the London Marathon in April, was pleased with her second place showing. Nukuri was third in 32:23, followed by Kilel in 32:49. Recent University of Arizona graduate Elvin Kibet placed sixth in 33:38 in her professional road race debut. Kristen Zaitz of Broomfield, Colorado, seventh in 34:26, was the top American.