Game 7 between Kenya and Ethiopia takes place on Saturday.
No, not hockey.
In the last six years, runners from those countries have won the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5k three times each.
They’ll send another wave of elite athletes to the loaded field for Saturday’s race, including two-time Freihofer’s winner Emily Chebet of Kenya (2010, 2013).
Two other top contenders from Kenya are Isabella Ochichi and Cynthia Limo, and Ethiopia counters with Buze Diriba, who is coming off a 15:00 for fifth at the B.A.A. 5k, and Amane Gobena.
“They’re all dynamic and in good shape,” race director George Regan said. “Picking the winner is a crapshoot.
“Emily Chebet, you can never count her out, ever. I think those two [Chebet and Diriba] will be one and two, but which one will be one?”
Limo has run a busy and successful race schedule this year, winning the Lilac Bloomsday 12k and the Hy-Vee Half Marathon.
She also has runner-up finishes in the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in Washington, D.C., on April 3, the Crescent City Classic and the World’s Best 10k.
The Freihofer’s course has been altered and will start and finish on Washington Avenue at the New York State Capital Building, winding through Washington Park for the middle mile.
The race traditionally started and finished at the New York State Museum staircase overpass on Madison Avenue, something Regan had considered changing for years.
His hand was forced because of a two-year construction plan to renovate that area.
Using Washington Avenue should alleviate some of the bottleneck shortly after the start, and also gives ample room for the back of the field to clear before the leaders double back onto Washington Avenue coming out of the park.
“I always thought Washington Avenue would be good because it’s not as steep as Madison. It’s a little flatter and a little wider,” Regan said. “It’s 55-60 feet wide curb-to-curb all the way up to Robin Street. This gives everyone a chance to get into their pace. You’ll be able to run your pace right from the gun. This makes it a lot better for the middle of the pack and the back of the pack.”
As chockful of Kenyans and Ethiopians as the front of the pack will be, there are a few Americans who should be near the leaders, too.
Megan Hogan, a basketball player at Saratoga Central Catholic High who went on to be an All-America distance runner in college, is back after finishing sixth in 15:50 last year.
Another top American is Serena Burla of Stafford, Va. She was sixth behind five Kenyans, including Limo, at Cherry Blossom.
Hannah Davidson, a former Saratoga Springs High School star who runs for the Syracuse-based Stotan Racing, is coming off a victory in the Lilac 10k in Rochester last Sunday.
Runners can still register today from noon to 7 p.m. at the CapitalCare/CDPHP Health & Fitness Expo, located in Convention Hall at the Empire State Plaza.
Regan is expecting between 3,500 and 4,000 runners, a number he’d like to grow now that the course can better accommodate a larger field.
“We don’t want to put a cap on it,” he said. “If we ever got up to 5,000 [on the old course], there would be too much overlap between the lead entourage and the police with the rest of the field, and it could be a disaster.”