On the morning of August 18, Sunday, Leonard Korir of Colorado won in the New Balance Falmouth Road Race and became the first American man to claim victory in 31 years.
In the past four years of the annual seven-mile race, Korir, 32 years of age, has placed only runner-up or third, losing to 31-year-old Stephen Sambu of Kenya in three of the four races. Sambu lost to Korir last year, with the former placing fourth and Korir third. The rivals both came back this year to claim victory.
Breaking the tape in 32:11, Korir earned the title of the first American man to win since Mark Curp of Missouri in 1988. Sambu finished runner-up with a time of 32:29, 18 seconds behind Korir, and just barely leading the 25-year-old Edward Cheserek, who finished in 32:30.
A group including Sambu and Cheserek led and set the pace for the opening miles, then Korir and Sambu gained distance from Cheserek, who was then behind by 20 seconds, and Korir leading Sambu by seven seconds. Being fully aware of Korir’s kick, Sambu did his best to widen the gap between him and his friend, but Korir took over around 5.5 miles and was in command by six.
Korir earned a total of $18,000: $10,000 for the victory, plus $3,000 for finishing as the top American, and another $5,000 for beating “The Countdown”, a clock that starts when the first woman breaks the tape, and the time the winning man has to beat.
Kenya’s Sharon Lokedi, 25, took first place in the women’s race, breaking the tape in 36:29, with American Sara Hall, 36, finishing runner-up in 36:34, and Kenyan Margaret Wangari, 33, in third place in 36:43. The last American woman to take first place in the Falmouth Road Race was Magdalena Lewy Boulet of California back in 2011, with a time of 36:58.