UTICA — Gabriel Geay held off Mohamed Reda El Aaraby to defend his men’s open title at the 42nd Boilermaker 15K Sunday, winning by three seconds.
Caroline Rotich was two seconds faster than Iveen Chepkemoi to claim the women’s open.
Geay, 22, of Tanzania, won the men’s race in 43:40 last year. This year, he was four seconds faster at 43:36, and he needed those precious seconds to get the win. As he headed down the final straightaway, he was just strides ahead of the 29-year-old Moroccan.
“It surprised me,” Geay said of being pushed. He said he expected it to be by some of the elite runners from Kenya. Peter Ndegwa, one of those Kenyans he expected to be at his heels, was third in 44:06.
Geay said he pushed away at about eight-and-a-quarter miles. “Maybe I can push,” he said of his plan at that point.
“I really wanted to win but at the finish I didn’t have the speed,” said Mohamed Reda El Aaraby after the race. But he said he wants to race here again.
“I’d be happy to come here again. The people were very welcoming.”
The conditions were ideal for running Sunday, with temperatures in the high 60s and cloudy skies. “Today was good weather,” Geay said. He said it was better for running than when he won last year.
The Americans among the elite runners put up a strong showing, with three crossing the finish line in fifth, sixth and seventh places.
Haron Lagat was fifth in 44:20, 40 seconds behind the winner. Jerrell Mock (44:23) was sixth and Reed Fisher was seventh (44:44).
Rotich, 35, of Kenya, was the winner of the 2015 Boston Marathon. She said he goal was to be under 50 minutes, perhaps closer to 49 minutes. She won in 49:07, barely ahead of Chepkemoi, 21, of Kenya, who finished in 49:09.
“I raced her a few weeks ago,” Rotich said of Chepkemoi. She was overtaken for the lead at about the nine-mile mark, then with about 300 meters left, Rotich made her push, hoping “for my sprints to show up here.”
“I loved it,” Rotich said of the up-and-down course. She pointed to the humid conditions, but training in Sana Fe, Az., she noted, prepares her for such situations. The best part of the conditions, she said, was that it was “breezy.”
For the third straight year, American runners swept the men’s and women’s master divisions.
Abdi Abdirahman, 40, took the men’s master title with a time of 46:31 while Kate Landau, 42, won the women’s master division with a time of 52:39.
Both were first-time winners.
The top local finishers in the 15K were Jordon Hoffman of Rome in 48th place (51:17), Josh Olney of Rome in 66th (52:28), Owen Walker of Verona in 76th (52:55), Matthew Lacey of Clinton in 80th (53:13) and Andy Ford of Clinton in 92nd (53:47).
Daniel Romanchuk, 20, of Illinois cruised to his fourth straight Boilermaker victory in the wheelchair division with a time of 32:32.
His nearest competitor was Joshua Cassidy, Canada, with a time of 34:10.
Jenna Fesemyer, 22, of Illinois won her first Boilermaker women’s wheelchair title with a time of 43:07.
Seven-time defending champion Amanda McGror did not participate in this year’s Boilermaker.
Cristian Torres, 38, of California won the quad division with a time of 43:42.
Lexi Bernard of Boonville won the women’s 5K in a time of 18:52. The winner of the men’s 5K was Tyler Vega of Maryland in 18:52.
The 43rd edition of the Boilermaker is scheduled Sunday, July 12, 2020.