[caption id="attachment_1369" align="aligncenter" width="265"] Bruce Wodder, Photo Run[/caption]
By Barbara Huebner
Barely a kilometer into the AJC Peachtree Road Race, Edna Kiplagat and Buze Diriba took off. Neely Spence Gracey was not surprised.
“I was expecting that someone would try to go for it, just because it becomes a race of attrition,” said Spence Gracey, the 26-year-old American making her Peachtree debut. “If you know you’re fit, you might as well set a hot pace and challenge anyone to go with you.”
No one did, and after a two-woman duel the 36-year-old two-time World Champion would prevail over the 22-year-old Ethiopian, 32:24 to 32:28. It was Kiplagat’s first win here in three attempts, after finishing eighth (2003), seventh (2009), and third (20101).
“I am happy today because I have tried three times to win this race and I didn’t make it, but today I made it,” said Kiplagat, who knows something about persistence: She won the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon after finishing second for three consecutive years.
Finishing third, almost a minute back, was three-time Peachtree champion Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya (33:24), with Spence Gracey the first American, fourth overall, just one second behind in 33:25. Winning the master’s division for the third-consecutive year was Jen Rhines (34:16).
By 5K, which Kiplagat and Diriba both hit in 15:43, the two women were almost 30 seconds ahead of Chepkurui and Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba.
“I tried to push, but the second lady was hanging on,” said Kiplagat, who couldn’t gain more than a step on her rival until five miles into the race but felt confident that she could finish strong after recording her 10K personal best just last weekend at the B.A.A. 10K. “She tried to hold on so long, but after five miles I started to increase the pace and she dropped. So I decided to move fast.”
But she still wasn’t sure it was fast enough. After rounding the turn onto 10th Street as they approached the finish, Kiplagat sneaked several looks over her shoulder.
“Buze was so strong, and I was trying to make sure that I was saving enough so she cannot come and win the race,” said the champion.
Kiplagat and Diriba ran alone, Kiplagat always one step ahead, and by 5K the duo was 11 seconds ahead of a seven-woman chase pack.
“I tried to push, but the second lady was hanging on,” said Kiplagat.
About Atlanta Track Club
Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 24,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race (peachtreeroadrace.org) – the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Georgia Marathon, Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit atlantatrackclub.org.
About the AJC Peachtree Road Race
The AJC Peachtree Road Race is a 10K event that takes place every Fourth of July in Atlanta, Georgia. The first Peachtree was held in 1970 and featured 110 finishers. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is now the largest 10K running event in the world with 60,000 participants. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is perhaps most famous for the coveted AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt, which is handed out to all the event finishers. For more information on the AJC Peachtree Road Race visit peachtreeroadrace.org or AJC.com/peachtree.
About The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the leading source – both in print and online – of news, information and advertising for metropolitan Atlanta, reaching a total print and online audience of 1.7 million people each week. Every month, nearly 6.4 million unique visitors access the newspaper's websites, including AJC.com, myAJC.com and accessAtlanta.com. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is part of Cox Media Group, a publishing, digital media and broadcasting subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.