Speed workouts should be so productive.
Looking for a fast 5k to bolster her marathon preparation, Lucy Kabuu got much more than that on Saturday.
Pushed all the way by two-time champion Mamitu Daska, the 30-year-old from Kenya posted one of the fastest times in the 36-year history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women and earned a victory and a check for $10,000, to boot.
She finished in 15:20.1 after gaining a little bit of separation from Daska as they started down Madison Avenue for the last 800 meters. Glancing over both shoulders just below Lark Street, Kabuu held the 30-year-old from Ethiopia at bay by 1.2 seconds.
“I was fearing them from behind, but also, when I looked behind, I saw that I was leaving her little by little and got courage,” Kabuu said. “Then I always, in my mind, was thinking, ‘Winning, winning.’ ”
Besides a victory in her first appearance at Freihofer’s, Kabuu posted the fifth-fastest time since the race was first run.
A late addition to the race after defending champion Emily Chebet pulled out of the field, Kabuu was coming off a nice victory against a strong field in the Bangalore 10k in India, and said Freihofer’s will add speed to enhance her marathon times later in the year.
A pack of 12 took the field through the mostly uphill first kilometer in 3:13, and Kabuu and Daska moved to the front through a 5:06 mile.
They formed a diamond foursome with Kabuu leading and Genet Beyene behind
Daska and Afera Godfay at the 2k, and after turning right on Lake Avenue nearing the 3k, Daska went wide left as Beyene fell out of the lead group.
At the 4k on Henry Johnson Boulevard heading back through Washington Park, Kabuu led Daska and Godfay in tight single file with a 3:02 split for 12:29, two seconds faster than course record pace.
“I always prefer to run with my pace,” Kabuu said. “Unfortunately today, there were three there. That’s why I ran from the first starting [horn].
“I knew the competition was tough. But I always like to run my pace even if there are strong people.”
Godfay couldn’t stay in contact from there, and the fast early splits took a bit of a toll on Kabuu and Daska, who failed to hit Emily Chebet’s 15:12 course record.
“You know that when you run together, the race is very interesting,” Kabuu said. “And you can see from the time.”
In three Freihofer’s over the last four years, Daska has run 15:19 in 2011, 15:20 in 2012 and 15:21 on Saturday.
She was coming off a terrific victory, but perhaps a taxing one, in the Bolder Boulder on Monday.
“It was a great race, and she feels great about it,” translator Mesfin Solomon said for Daska. “This is her fourth year coming, and she is very happy to come in second place.
“Last week, that race was a bit difficult because of the weather condition, and that made it more of a challenge to do the race today.”
Godfay finished third in 15:27.8, followed by Zemzem Ahmed of Ethiopia in 15:44.8, Agnes Cheserek in 15:49.4 and Saratoga Central Catholic High graduate Megan Hogan in 15:49.9.
Alice Kamunya, who has been training in Schenectady since last fall with a group of Kenyans, was eighth in 16:07.7.
Melody Fairchild, running Freihofer’s for the first time in 16 years, won the masters division in 17:12.3, almost 30 seconds ahead of runner-up Sheri Piers.
“I felt really strong on the hill, and that’s where I was able to overtake Sheri,” the 40-year-old Fairchild said. “I think I had my extra lung from running in Colorado and running up hills there, so I went with my strength and didn’t look back.”
Erin Corcoran of Schenectady was the fifth masters runner, in 18:31.5, and Emily Bryans of Delanson was sixth in 18:55.4.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 57-year-old two-time Boston Marathon winner and 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist, was next, in 19:01.9.
There were 3,612 finishers for the Freihofer’s Run.
Lucy Kabuu (30, Kenya), 15:20.1; Mamitu Daska (30, Ethiopia), 15:21.3; Afera Godfay (22, Ethiopia), 15:27.8; Zemzem Ahmed (29, Ethiopia), 15:44.8; Agnes Cheserek (26, Kenya), 15:49.4; Megan Hogan (26, Saratoga Springs), 15:49.9; Buzunesh Deba (27, Ethiopia), 16:04.5; Alice Kamunya (23, Kenya), 16:07.7; Rene Kalmer (33, South Africa), 16:11.6; Rkia El Moukim (26, Morocco), 16:17.0.
Genet Beyene (19, Ethiopia), 16:19.9; Amy Van Alstine (26, USA), 16:28.3; Christine Kalmer (28, South Africa), 16:37; Michelle Lilienthal (32, USA), 16:41; Nolene Conrad (27, South Africa), 16:52; Melody Fairchild (40, USA), 17:12; Sara Dunham (37, Plattsburgh), 17:30; Sheri Piers (43, USA), 17:42; Jennifer Mortimer (32, New London, N.H.), 17:49; Brittany Burns (25, Watertown), 17:53.
Sylvie Lloyd (27, Clifton Park), 17:56; Karen Bertasso (29, Scotia), 17:58; Julia Flower (15, Schenectady), 17:59; Estela Smith (16, Ballston Spa), 17:59; Paula Wiltse (46, Canada), 17:59; Peyton Engborg (13, Greenfield), 18:07; Renee Tolan (39, Clifton Park), 18:10; Mesha Brewer (35, Saratoga Springs), 18:12; Kristina Gracey (31, Guilderland), 18:14; Marisa Sutera Strange (50, USA), 18:16.
Spencer Hayes (16, Gansevoort), 18:17; Amelia Mahoney (15, Saratoga Springs), 18:25; Tara Peck (19, Saratoga Springs), 18:27; Erin Corcoran (40, Schenectady), 18:31; Carley Vetter (14, Greenfield Center), 18:43; Paris Fenoff (13, Ballston Spa), 18:46; Amanda Jinks (33, Brooklyn), 18:46; Gabrielle Robens (16, Saratoga Springs), 18:50; Belle Bower (15, Albany), 18:53; Caroline Starace (14, Greenfield Center), 18:54.
Emily Bryans (46, Delanson), 18:55; Madeline Tooker (14, Saratoga Springs), 18:55; Kelly Stevens (32), 18:58Sara Buckley (20, Slingerlands), 19:00Joan Benoit Samuelson (57, USA), 19:01; Eva Scott (15, Burnt Hills), 19:03; Alexandra Delnicki (13, Ballston Spa), 19:08; Marilyn O’Brien (14, Albany), 19:08; Megan Morin (12, Greenfield Center), 19:08; Lena Ruggles (14, Saratoga Springs), 19:09.