BOSTON— It was a great day for Massachusetts at the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, with Bay State native Johnny Gregorek and Annie Rodenfels, who competes for the B.A.A. High Performance Team, taking victories in the professional race after dozens of young local athletes delighted in the opportunity to cross the Boston Marathon finish line in races of their own.
In the men’s pro mile, the 30-year-old Gregorek – a state 2-mile champion while competing for Seekonk High School – came from behind to triumph in 4:08.16.
“It was awesome,” said Gregorek, who knows how to put on a show for Boston fans – in 2019, he became the second-fastest U.S. indoor miler in history when he ran 3:49.98 on the Boston University track. “The crowd was great, the energy is awesome around here … it couldn’t be better, really. The goal was to win and that’s what I did.”
Running the event for the first time, Gregorek described the three-lap course in the Back Bay as “fun, a lot of tight turns. It was kind of exciting, like roller derby.” Americans Kasey Knevelbaard (4:08.88) and Shane Streich (4:09.28) placed second and third.
Asked if breaking tape on the Boston Marathon finish line might inspire him to run the 26.2-miler someday, he didn’t hesitate: “I can definitely see myself doing it as a fun thing.”
For the women, Rodenfels (4:35.51) outdueled Taryn Rawlings (4:35.59) to the line, with Emily Lipari, who previously ran for the B.A.A. team, third (4:36.98). Capping a fast 16 hours with a fourth-place finish (4:37.24) was Peabody, MA native Heather MacLean, a 2020 Olympian at 1500 meters who on Friday night helped shatter the world best in the distance medley relay.
A three-time NCAA Division III champion out of the Centre College in Kentucky, the 25-year-old Rodenfels ran amid the pack of 11 women until easing up toward the leaders in the penultimate turn. “At first I was going to settle for third,” said the distance specialist, “but then I was like ‘no. I came out here to test my speed against them to get better.’”
Asked if she surprised herself a little with the win, Rodenfels laughed. “I surprised myself a lot,” she admitted. “I love the B.A.A. They took a chance on me when a lot of people wouldn’t, and I feel just as much as I want to succeed for myself I want to succeed for them, too.”
In the Scholastic Mile, which features two high school athletes from each of the eight cities and towns – Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston – along the marathon course, Sam Burgess of Framingham broke the tape for the boys and Camille Jordan won for the girls.
For his victory, Burgess had to battle Tyler Tubman of Newton to the tape, with Burgess (4:25.32) barely edging Tubman (4:25.32) before crashing to the pavement in exhaustion. The fifth-fastest 2-miler in the state last year, Burgess is no stranger to winning at this event: he is the 2018 B.A.A. Middle School 1K champion.
In the girls’ scholastic mile, Rory Clare of Wellesley led most of the way before being caught by Camille Jordan of Brookline in the final straight. Jordan was ranked third in the state at 1000 meters this indoor season, while Clare led the 1000-meter Massachusetts list.
In the Middle School 1000-meter race, John Bianchi of Natick took the win for the boys, while Abigail Beggans of Wellesley needed every inch of Boylston Street to eke out a win over Sasha Lamakina of Framingham (3:14.05 to 3:14.09).
Four First-Time Winners Take Home Titles at 2022 B.A.A. 5K
Kicking off the first traditional Boston Marathon weekend in three years, the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday morning featured sunshine, daffodils and 3.1 miles of smiles as more than 8,000 runners reclaimed the springtime finish line.
The 5K also featured a course record in the women’s race, as Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia broke the tape in 14:49, taking one second off the mark set by American Molly Huddle in 2015.
Had it not been for a headwind in the second half of the race, the 26-year-old might have lowered her own world record (14:29) for a women-only race.
“My main goal was to break the world record, but I’m thinking it was a little bit windy,” said the two-time World Athletics Championships silver medalist, who came to Boston on the heels of a 1:07:34 win at last month’s NYC Half. “I’m very happy to get the course record here.”
Teferi’s intent was obvious from the gun, with only American Weini Kelati giving chase.
“She’s a very strong runner,” said Kelati, the reigning U.S. 5K champion. “I was lucky to be able to run with her halfway. I’m not strong enough to push against the wind. It felt a lot harder than the last time I ran here. I’m glad the race was short.”
Kelati finished second, in 15:04, a personal best by 14 seconds, with Kenya’s Sharon Lokedi third in 15:16. Among the women in the pack behind them was Kathrine Switzer, one of eight women who ran the Boston Marathon in 1972, the first year it featured an official women’s division. The milestone is being celebrated this year on its 50th anniversary.
In the men’s race, Canadian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot ran a 28-second personal best and new Canadian national record for an upset win in 13:35, holding off a late surge by New Zealand’s Geordie Beamish, always a dangerous closer. Beamish blazed from behind in the final stretch to nip Zouhair Talbi of Morocco for second, with both men finishing in 13:36.
“It’s always nice to get a win,” said the 2016 Canadian Olympian at 1500 meters. “It was a super fun race, too. I’ve been having my best workouts ever at altitude, and that doesn’t lie. I came down and I’m like, ‘you know what, I’m going to go for the win.’ I showed up to the front line with that confidence and I’m glad, because it paid off.”
The race went out in 4:24 for the first mile –Philibert-Thiboutot described it as “jogging” – before Talbi took off, followed by Kenya’s David Bett and the Canadian. From that point on, “it really felt like a hard run, and I knew in the last straight I had to kick because guys like Geordie Beamish have a great kick. I had a couple of steps on him and I really worked hard to keep it,” said the eventual winner.
Getting his weekend off to a great start, Marcel Hug of Switzerland demolished the men’s wheelchair course record, winning in 10:05.
“It feels good,” said Hug, a five-time winner of the marathon. “I’m really satisfied with today. It was a good test of how I feel for Monday.” Winning the women’s wheelchair race was the USA’s Jessa Fesemyer, in 12:34.
Capping off a trifecta of Saturday events is the B.A.A. Relay Challenge featuring student-athletes from the Greater Boston area experiencing the thrill of racing in relays on Boylston Street.
SATURDAY EVENT RESULTS: