There would be no thrilling finish at this year’s Bloomsday Elite Women’s race.
Mamitu Daska made sure of that from the start, pulling away from an ever-thinning pack Sunday to win by almost a minute.
Only when the race was well in hand did Daska ease her pace, finishing in 38:26 to win the race and the $7,000 first prize.
“I’m very happy with the win,” said the 28-year-old Ethiopian, a runner-up two years ago with a nearly identical time of 38:25.
Daska now holds two of the three fastest times in Bloomsday history. The all-time leader is 2010 winner Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya at 38:10.
Last year, Misiker Mekonnin edged Wude Ayalew Yimer by one second in a slow tactical race. This year, Daska pushed the pace early, with a 4:52.52 first mile; her 2-mile split of 9:50.20 beat the previous women’s record by 40 seconds, and her 3-mile mark of 15:04.40 broke the record by 55 seconds.
By then, approaching Spokane Falls Community College, she led Jelliah Tinega by 100 meters. Even as Daska slowed on Doomsday Hill, the early pace took a bigger toll on Tinega, who was finally caught at 5 1/2 miles by eventual runner-up Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, of Rome, Ga.
“I felt great,” Cherobon-Bawcom said minutes after the race. “I just worked my way up, and I was trying to reel in (Daska) but she was way, way ahead.”
Cherobon-Bawcom finished 57 seconds behind Daska at the same time she pulled away from Tinega, who crossed the finish line third, 27 seconds back.
Cherobon-Bawcom was indeed gaining on Doomsday Hill. “At one point I was closing, but I think I misjudged the hill, and it ended too quickly.”
Still, she was the top money-winner in Bloomsday – men or women – as she took home $9,500, including $4,500 for second place and $5,000 for being the top American finisher.
Daska was coming off a ninth-place finish in the Dubai Marathon.
Genoveva Kigen, one of the early pace-setters, finished fourth in 39:55, six seconds ahead of Diane Nukuri-Johnson of Burundi.
Three Americans finished in the top eight, led by Lindsey Scherf of Durham, N.C., in 40:41. Ten seconds back was Stephanie Rothstein of Flagstaff, Ariz. Allie Kieffer of Tempe, Ariz., was eighth at 41:15.
Defending champ Mekonnin struggled, finishing in 42:08 and tied for ninth. She was coming off a tough schedule, having run three marathons in the past four months.
The top in-state finisher was Claudia Copeland of Olympia, finishing in 42:13; Mattie Suver of Lake Tapps, Wash., was timed in 42:38.
Janet Collar was the top Spokane finisher at 45:05, beating Haley Cooper-Scott, also of Spokane, by 48 seconds.