As seems to be typical at Bloomsday, Doomsday Hill separates the contenders from the pretenders.
The 40th edition was no different as Philip Langat bided his time early, and his patience paid off.
Langat, 26, pulled away, winning in a time of 34 minutes, 26 seconds – 32 seconds faster than his fourth-place finish a year ago.
To Langat, Doomsday Hill was little challenge. From where he trains in his home in Kenya, the hill country prepares him for stretches like Doomsday Hill.
And he emerged at the top ready to wrestle control while a pack of three others began to fade and fade fast.
“I’ve been training on a lot of hills,” Langat said. “It wasn’t too hard for me.”
It’s no surprise that Langat won. He has the sixth-fastest 10-kilometer time in the world this year.
Isaac Mwangi, 28, also of Kenya, used a kick to take second at the finish just north of the Monroe Street Bridge. A couple strides behind in third was Philemon Cheboi, 22, of Kenya.
Langat was the lone runner in the early pack of seven Kenyans to swing over and take a cup of water at an aid station. He said the water helped him have a strong finish.
He was happy with the pace of the race.
“I was confident when we were starting because I was feeling OK,” Langat said.
Mwangi was pressing his right side near his rib cage a handful of times as the runners passed in front of Spokane Falls Community College. He said afterward that he was dealing with a side ache during that stretch.
He also fell behind the lead pack early and used quite a bit of energy to catch up just before the race reached Doomsday Hill.
Many years Bloomsday winners don’t come back the following year to defend. Langat said at this point he hopes to be back but can’t make a commitment.
Bloomsday rookie Eliud Ngetich took the pace out fast to start the race. But like many first-time runners at Bloomsday, the quick start caught up with him as the runners crested Cemetery Hill and neared SFCC.
Langat hung back in the lead pack, seemingly letting the others expend extra energy and waiting for his time to surge.
By the time Langat reached Broadway and the homestretch, he had a 100-meter lead. Ngetich finished a distant fourth.
Langat thought his time could have been faster had he been pushed the last 2 miles. Overall, he was content considering he was by himself at the end.
“When you are alone you can’t get fast time,” Langat said.
Mwangi thought the fast early pace was too fast. The lead pack ran the first mile in 4:26. The second mile, which includes a downhill stretch, was 4:24.
“At the beginning it was too fast,” Mwangi said. “I knew my body and if I stayed with that pace I wouldn’t finish well. I had to preserve energy for finishing.”
Mwangi said the side ache eventually subsided and he was happy to finish one place better than last spring.
“(Doomsday Hill) was really, really tough,” Mwangi said. “I managed to finish in a good pace. I’m happy because last year I was position three and this year I’m position two.”
Langat earned $7,000 and Mwangi got $4,500.
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