Kenyan Allan Kiprono pulled away in the final kilometer of the Bolder Boulder on Monday to become the first to repeat as champion of the men's pro race in five years.
While Kiprono was the star, his victory contributed to a larger effort that ultimately overshadowed the individual accomplishment. His teammates -- Leonard Korir and Lani Rutto -- crossed the finish line in fourth and sixth place respectively giving the the Kenyan team the victory in the International Team Challenge, ending Ethiopia's six-year winning streak and adding to the rivarly between runners from the two countries.
Kenya (11) beat the Ethiopians (12) by one point gaining a measure of revenge for
2011 when Ethiopia beat the Kenyans by a single point.
"That's good. For many years Ethiopia has been dominating," Kiprono said.
Kiprono is the first man to repeat as champion since Ridouane Harroufi of Morrocco won in 2007 and 2008 and he is only the fourth man to win the race two years in a row. He won Monday's race in 29 minutes 28.79 seconds. It was 26 seconds faster than his winning time last year.
Ethiopia's Belete Assefa, the 2011 winner here, finished 8 seconds behind him in 29:36.49 and Ethiopia's Birhanu Gedefa was third in 29:45.11.
"I tried my best to defend my title," Kiprono said. "It was good for me."
Rutto proved to be the difference for Kenya beating Ethiopia's third man -- Tolossa Gedefa Fufi by 7 seconds to give Kenya its first team title at the Bolder Boulder since 2003.
Five men finished with sub-30-minute times. It is the highest number of sub-30 minute times since 12 did so in 2008.
Kiprono lives and trains in Boulder for part of the year. He has been here the past two months and said his training was focused on winning the Bolder Boulder. He said he skipped several other races to keep his training on track for Monday in what he called, "my home away from home."
Meanwhile, the American men managed a third-place finish led by Aaron Braun, who finished ninth in 30:29.10. Braun started strong and led much of the first third of the race but then fell off and out of the lead pack.
Braun finished fourth last year and was hopeful that he might become the first American man to win since 1984, but it didn't work out for him.
"We started off slower than I thought we would," Braun said. "They ran really smart and the second half of the race they started pulling away and I tried to bide my time and close hard like I did last year. I just didn't have the same feeling as I did last year. The heat just slowly sapped it out of me I guess."
Former University of Colorado runners Brent Vaughn and Kenyon Neuman finished 10th and 13th respectively to help Team USA nab third place.
Vaughn said Team USA came prepared to for the Ethiopians and Kenyans to go out fast. The Americans planned to be more conservative and try to reel the leaders in at the end, but the Kenyans and Ethiopians also took a conservative approach at the start and when they ratcheted up the pace, the Americans couldn't keep up.
"I think we still ran smart," Vaughn said. "It was a conservative race plan. When you're at altitude and in the heat, it's just not wise to get too risky in the first half of the race."
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