Kenyan Olympian Lucy Kabuu wins Freihofer’s Run for Women in NY
ALBANY >> More than 4000 female runners including four Olympians from four nations and 18 countries gathered on Madison Avenue in Albany on Saturday morning to take part in the 36th running of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K.
Kenya’s Lucy Wangui Kabuu was the top overall finisher with a time of 15:20.1, well shy of the course record time of 15:10.6 set by Emily Chebet of Kenya in 2010.
“I went back to Kenya to train for this race, that’s why I was so confident because I had that good training,” Kabuu said. The 30-year-old Kabuu said she ran in the Freihofer’s 5K to get her speed up in preparation to qualify for the Kenyan nationals in the marathon event.
Kabuu, a distance runner and two-time Kenyan Olympian, outlasted a trio of Ethopian runners down the final straightaway stretch of the fast-paced road race field to claim her first victory in the race.
“I always try to run in the front from the start,” Kabuu said. “I knew that the competition was tough but I always have courage when I’m running with other strong runners.”
A pack of roughly one dozen runners stayed together through the first 1½ miles of the 3.2-mile race before the bundle of runners eventually narrowed down to Kabuu, and Ethopians Mamitu Daska and Afera Godfay Berha (15:27.8) for the remainder of the race. The top three finishers finished within seven seconds of each other.
“It was a good race,” said second-place Daska, a two-time Run for Women champion. “I feel great about it and I’m really happy to be in second place,” she added of her fourth appearance in the race.
Kabuu made her move around the 2-mile, mark which allowed her to put some distance between her and Daska before deciding to make the race-clinching move and break away from the trio of runners for the remaining 800 meters.
“I could see her, I got courage then little by little I started to go in front, Kabuu said of Daska. I always have in my mind winning, winning.”
“I couldn’t seem to generate enough speed at the end to catch Lucy,” Daska said, through an interpreter. “It was a little difficult toward the end.”
Kabuu ran strong the entire race from start to finish then appeared to kick it into another gear once the finish line came into view in front of the Empire State Plaza.
“Lucy’s a great challenger and it was very difficult,” Daska said. “She tried her best and I’m really happy that she came in first.”
Ballston Spa’s Megan Hogan was one of those who managed to keep perfect pace with the pack of runners up until about the second-mile marker before the top three trio broke off. from the pack. After completing the first mile in 5:01, the top three finishers ran a flat 10:05 through the second mile. Hogan then broke free one final time in the final stretch to finish in the top six respectively.
“I felt really good in the beginning,” Hogan said. “Usually when I go out in a pack like that I feel like, ‘oh, my gosh can I stick with them’ but I felt really comfortable so it was good,” she added.
Hogan, who was the first American runner to finish and sixth overall turning in a time of 15:49.9, was pleased with her finish and said after the race that she fared better than expected. She bested her 10th overall finish and second place for American runners in last year’s Run for Women.
I’m really surprised,” Hogan said of her time. “I was not expecting to run that well or be the top American for that matter. I have just been surprising myself lately I guess.”
Hogan, the lone elite level runner from the Capital District, was a fan favorite as fans who were lined along the sidewalks on the race route chanted her name in encouragement as all of the athletes sped by towards the finish line.
“I could hear everybody in the crowd cheering ‘Megan’ I don’t know who all of them were, some of them were my teammates,” she said. “To all of those out there who were cheering for me it really helps, its really great to get local support out there.”