Sharon Lokedi stuck to her game plan even as her competitors raced ahead early during the 2019 New Balance Falmouth Road Race elite women’s race.
While runners left the starting line on Water Street in Woods Hole as if they were shot out of a cannon, Lokedi, 25, kept pace but didn’t fret by not leading the pack early on. The Kenyan, who resides in Flagstaff, Arizona, stayed within striking distance before making her move just before Mile No. 5 and never bothered looking behind her from there.
In her fourth professional race, Lokedi finished ahead of the pack when she reached Grand Avenue in Falmouth Heights for her first professional win since claiming the 2018 NCAA Division I 10,000-meter championships for the University of Kansas in Eugene, Oregon.
“When the first pack moved, I told myself to be patient and go with the flow and keep moving,” Lokedi said. “Around Mile No. 5 I took over. [But] when you’re in front you have pressure [too]. I didn’t know how far ahead I was and didn’t want to look back.”
She finished the seven-mile course in 36:29—just five seconds ahead of American Sara Hall. Both runners earned $10,000 each—Lokedi for taking first place and Hall for earning second place ($7,000) and being the first American to cross the finish line ($3,000). Kenyan Margaret Wangari, who won Falmouth in 2012, finished third in 36:43, Tish Jones, from Great Britain, placed fourth in 37:43. Becky Wade, of Boulder, Colorado, rounded out the top five with a time of 37:44.
Hall and Lokedi ran side-by-side to begin the race behind the lead pack of Wangari and fellow Kenyan Iveen Chepkemoi, who both completed the first two miles in under five minutes. But as the race wore on, the temperature rose and the clouds dissipated. Humidity also rose, reaching upward of 95 percent, which aided Lokedi and Hall in closing the ground.
“We went out way harder than we ever have to start the race,” said Hall, who isn’t used to humid elements. “I typically suffer here, but I thought Sharon and I had a little better race plan I think.”
For Hall, it was her second time finishing second at Falmouth—a race she’s competed in four years now. Although it hurt to fall just shy of a victory at Falmouth, Hall left the Cape feeling positive about what she accomplished.
“It’s hard to come that close to winning,” she said. “But I’m really happy with that considering where I’m at in my marathon training right now.”
Hall will be competing in both the Berlin and New York City marathons later this year. Joining Hall in the NYC Marathon this November will be 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden. A year after serving as the official starter of Falmouth and joining the recreational running group, Linden ran competitively for the first time. She finished ninth in 38:33. Aside from the aesthetics of the course, Linden noted the good opportunity to train for New York as why she ran this year.
“The conditions were tough, Linden said. “It’s always good to see where you’re at and go from there. This was a good starting point.”
Conditions quickly turned from advantageous to potentially dangerous as the race went on through the late morning. Both Lokedi and Wangari needed immediate help from the road race’s medical team upon crossing the finish line, although both runners were OK.
“I knew I finished,” said Lokedi, who walked across the finish line as her last bit of energy was fried from the hot sun. “But for 10 minutes after that I don’t remember anything. I knew it was going to be humid, but not this hot.”
Hannah Everson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, finished sixth in 37:40. Abbie McNulty, of Charlottesville, Virginia, was seventh in 38:18. Nell Rojas, from Boulder, CO, finished eighth in 38:26. Katie Newton from Belmont, Massachusetts, finish in 10th place in 38:38. Prize money was awarded to the top 10 finishers in the race.
Last year’s winner, Caroline Chepkoech, did not compete in this year’s road race. The Kenyan runner had won the three previous Falmouth Road Races.