Susan Jerotich takes the female overall title with her time of 26:46 on Saturday night in the Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K Run in Kingsport. (Jonathan McCoy photo)
KINGSPORT — A quality field was no match for Mother Nature during Saturday night's 25th running of the Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K road race through the candle-lit streets of Kingsport.
Attempting to bring the 8K world record back to the Model City, a bevy of elite runners faced temperatures in the upper 80s and strength-sapping humidity.
While the racing was outstanding, it was not good enough to earn a world record.
Kenya's Simon Ndirangu, the 2007 Crazy 8s champion, ran a brilliant race and outdistanced the field to finish first inside J. Fred Johnson Stadium with a time of 22:29.
Cleophas Ngetich (22:36) was second and Sam Chelanga (22:45) third.
Susan Jerotich, also from Kenya, won the women's race in dominating fashion. She crossed the finish line at 26:46, almost three minutes ahead of Mary Ballinger (29:22).
Former Tennessee High standout Macy Carrier was third with a time of 31:45.
The Crazy 8s had held the 8K world record since 1996 when Kenya's Peter Githuka blistered the course in a time of 22:02.03. But on June 22 of this year, Stephen Sambu broke that mark with his time of 22:01.03 in Boston.
Crazy 8s race director Hank Brown was determined to get the record back and brought in a highly touted field to do just that.
Less than a quarter of a mile into the race, the lead pack of nine runners broke clear of the main field and forced a brutal opening pace under the conditions.
By the time the runners turned off Eastman Road and onto Pineola, three had already been dropped.
The first mile was run in just under 4:20.
When the runners turned off Wilcox Drive and onto Center Street, there were just four competitors remaining in the lead pack.
That quickly became three when Ndirangu, Ngetich and Chelanga passed the 2-mile mark at 8:52.
As in years past, the hill on Fort Henry Drive in front of the Kingsport Town Center proved to be the tale of the tape.
Ndirangu surged as the runners moved up the hill and went past the 3-mile mark in a time of 13:24. As he turned onto Warpath Drive, Ndirangu found himself all alone and in the lead by 30 meters.
"I wasn't planning to make a move that early," he said. "But I felt the pace was causing concern among the other runners, so I took the chance to test them.
"Once I was clear, they never came back at me."
Ndirangu passed the 4-mile mark at 18:04 and it was clear that it would take a super-human effort over the last mile to have a chance at the record.
Despite coming up short of a world record, Ndirangu was still pleased with his victory.
"I'm happy with the outcome," he said. "This was a very strong field and I was not expecting to win.
"But knowing the course was very important because this is a very tactical race with all the hills and corners. You really have to use your head."
Ndirangu took home the Bank of Tennessee Dash for the Gold $5,000 first-place check.
The women's race was far less dramatic.
Jerotich, who lives and trains in Chapel Hill, N.C., was in total control from the outset.
Although she had never run in the Crazy 8s or even seen the course, she had little trouble establishing herself as the runner to beat in the ladies' field.
"The hills were very difficult, but there were enough flat sections to allow you to recover," Jerotich said. "I just went out and ran my own race and feel good about the finish.
"I improved my time for the 8K distance and that was very important for me tonight."comments powered by Disqus