Sambu, Nukuri Return to Defend Titles at New Balance Falmouth Road Race
$5,000 “Countdown” Bonus Again Highlights Total Prize Purse of $106,000
FALMOUTH, MA (August 10, 2016)—Defending champions Stephen Sambu of Kenya and Diane Nukuri of Burundi lead deep elite fields for the 44th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on August 21, organizers announced today.
Among the top athletes challenging Sambu, who will seek to join Gilbert Okari of Kenya as only the second man to win Falmouth three years in a row, will be 2015 IAAF World Championships Marathon silver medalist Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia, making his U.S. debut at a distance under 26.2 miles.
Looking to reclaim her 2014 crown from Nukuri will be Betsy Saina of Kenya, a three-time NCAA Champion from Iowa State who had the #1 time in the world this year for 5000 meters indoors.
Nukuri, Saina, and the USA’s Leonard Korir will all travel to Falmouth after competing at 10,000 meters at the Olympic Games in Rio. The women’s 10,000 meters is this Friday; the men’s is Saturday.
Korir, a two-time NCAA champion for Iona College who finished a close third here last year, won the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half in a sprint finish over Sambu, his training partner in Tucson, AZ. A native of Kenya, Korir became a U.S. citizen late last year, and made Team USA by finishing third at the recent Olympic Trials.
“Stephen and Diane are both great champions, and we’re excited that they’ll both return to defend,” said Scott Ghelfi, president of the Board of Directors. “We’re also pleased, and honored, that 2016 Olympians Diane, Betsy, and Leonard will be gracing us with their presence even before the Games end.”
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race takes place on the final day of the Olympics. Athletes will compete for a total prize purse of $106,000, including a first-place prize of $10,000.
In “The Countdown,” a clock will start when the first woman breaks the tape, counting down a time the winning man has to beat in order to win the bonus. If the clock runs out before the man crosses the finish line, the victorious woman gets the $5,000; if it doesn’t, the man wins. Based on the average gap between the winning times for men and women over the past 10 years of the race, the time to beat will be 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
In the wheelchair division, sponsored by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod, two-time defending champion and course record-holder James Senbeta, 29, returns before competing for Team USA in the 2016 Paralympics, while the women’s field is headed by two-time Falmouth winner Jill Moore (2012 and 2013), who competed for Team USA in three events at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
Sambu, who ran the fastest 10K in the world in 2014; Tsegay, who finished on the Boston Marathon podium in both 2015 (second) and 2016 (third); and Korir will be challenged by, among others:
- Daniel Salel (Kenya), the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medalist who led Team Africa to victory in the Peachtree Cup international team competition at the 2015 AJC Peachtree Road Race;
- Sam Chelanga (USA), whose first race as a U.S. citizen was Falmouth last year before he went on to win the 2015 USA 12K Championships;
- Abdi Abdirahman (USA), a four-time Olympian who is competing here for the fifth time; and
- Aaron Braun (USA), the 2013 USA 12K champion and 2012 Manchester Road Race winner.
Among the top women Nukuri—a three-time Olympian who holds 12 national records—and Saina will face are:
- Caroline Chepkoech (Kenya), a 22-year-old who has finished on the podium of seven U.S. road races this year and was fifth at 10,000 meters at Kenya’s Olympic Trials;
- Kim Smith (NZL), a three-time Olympian and 11-time national record-holder;
- Sara Hall (USA), 2011 Pan Am Games gold medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase who was runner-up and top American here last year;
- Neely Spence Gracey (USA), top American at both the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2016 Boston Marathon; and
- Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (USA), the 2016 USA 25K champion.
Race founder Tommy Leonard will again serve as Grand Marshal.
The 44th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be Sunday, August 21, 2016. For more information, please visit our website at www.falmouthroadrace.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace; our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/falmouthrr and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace.
Feature image by Joe Navas.