Seeking to make some history of her own will be Caroline Chepkoech, who last year became the first woman to defend her Falmouth title since fellow Kenyan Lornah Kiplagat won three straight from 2000-2002. Not only is the 24-year-old Chepkoech hoping to win her third straight, but she is also aiming to break Kiplagat’s 18-year-old course record of 35:02.
In the wheelchair division, sponsored by Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Americans Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk are both returning. McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and Falmouth course record-holder, will be going after her third victory here, while Romanchuk – who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this month and is rapidly becoming one of the best racers in the world – will be looking to defend his 2017 win, in which he broke the course record.
In the men’s open division, Sambu will face a stiff challenge from a pair of U.S. Olympians, Leonard Korir and Lopez Lomong. Korir, a 2016 Olympian at 10,000 meters and an eight-time U.S. champion on the roads and cross country, was runner-up to Sambu here in both 2016 and 2017; last year, the finish was so close that both men were given the same time. Lomong, a two-time Olympian and one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” was the U.S. flagbearer in 2008 and recently won the U.S. 10,000-meter title, becoming the only American man in history to win national titles at both 1500 meters and 10,000 meters on the track. He will be making his Falmouth debut.
Among the other top Americans are Haron Lagat, runner-up in the USA 10 km Championships on July 4; Christo Landry, a six-time national champion on the roads; Scott Fauble, fourth at 10,000 meters in the 2016 Olympic Trials; and Martin Hehir, fifth this year at the USA Cross Country Championships and third in the USA 15 km Championships.
Representing Great Britain will be 2012 Olympian Chris Thompson and Callum Hawkins, ninth in the 2016 Olympic marathon and fourth in the 2017 IAAF World Championships marathon, and running for Canada will be Ben Flanagan, the 2018 NCAA champion at 10,000 meters who recently placed second – one spot ahead of Korir – at the Quad City Times Bix 7.
Chepkoech will face a formidable roster of challengers, among them compatriots Mary Wacera, a two-time IAAF World Championships Half Marathon medalist who in 2018 has won both the BAA 10K and Utica Boilermaker 15K; and Margaret Wangari, the 2012 New Balance Falmouth Road Race champion who is coming off a victory at the 2018 Quad City Times Bix 7. Buze Diriba of Ethiopia, who has won five major road races in the U.S. this season from distances of 5K to the half marathon, should also challenge.
American contenders are led by nine-time USA champion Aliphine Tuliamuk; two-time Olympian Kim Conley; and Kellyn Taylor, the 2014 USA 25K Champion who in 2016 finished sixth at the Olympic Marathon Trials and fourth at 10,000 meters in the track trials. Returning for the first time since her runner-up finish here in 2014 is Gemma Steel of Great Britain, the 2014 European Cross Country Champion.
First prize in the men’s and women’s open division is $10,000, leading a total $126,000 prize purse for Race Week events, which include the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile the evening before the 7-miler.
Chepkoech will be looking to defend not only her 2016 and 2017 crowns but also to continue her reign as winner of “The Countdown,” sponsored by Aetna. A beat-the-clock handicap race, “The Countdown” features a finish-line clock that starts when the first woman breaks the tape, counting down the number of minutes and seconds the winning man has to beat, according to a pre-determined formula. If the clock runs out before he crosses the line, the victorious woman wins a $5,000 bonus; if it doesn’t, the winning man will take home the money.
Based on the average gap between the winning times for men and women over the past 10 years of the race and the predicted relative strength of the 2018 fields, the clock will tick down from 3:00 minutes.
The 46th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race will take place Sunday, August 19, 2018. For more information, please visit our website at www.falmouthroadrace.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace; our Twitter feed atwww.twitter.com/falmouthrr, and our Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace