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By Chris Lotsbom, Race Results Weekly
BOSTON, MA (22-JUN) — Come late Sunday morning, after the B.A.A. 10-K has been completed, Kim Smith and Sam Chelanga hope to be atop the B.A.A. Distance Medley standings. If the two are in first place, they will be that much closer to a check for $100,000, the prize given to the male and female with the lowest cumulative time after the three race series — consisting of the B.A.A. 5-K, B.A.A. 10-K, and B.A.A. Half-Marathon — has ended.
After finishing second and third, respectively, at April’s B.A.A. 5-K, Chelanga leads the men’s category while Smith trails Aheza Kiros by only five seconds in the women’s standings. Both are eager to get back to the roads and vie for the inaugural title.
“I think the Distance Medley is a special event,” said Chelanga, a 27-year-old member of the Nike Oregon Track Club. Smith, a Reebok-sponsored athlete who will compete for New Zealand in the marathon at the London Olympics, agrees, saying that the event’s range of distances play into her favor.
“You have to be a pretty versatile athlete –and consistent– to win the overall prize. I think I’m pretty versatile. I can run pretty well from 5-K to the half-marathon. Hopefully it will go well on Sunday and I can be right up there to be in that hunt for that prize,” she said.
Although Smith is trailing Kiros in the standings, she thinks if all goes well Sunday, she should be in good contention come October’s B.A.A. Half-Marathon.
“I think as the distances go up, it’s definitely going to be to my advantage. I just definitely feel more comfortable over the longer distances,” she said. Smith is the New Zealand national record holder in the half-marathon.
Whenever Chelanga speaks of the B.A.A. Distance Medley, his voice rises in excitement. Whether it is because his family has ties here (Chelanga’s brother Joshua finished third in the 2001 Boston Marathon), his wife Marybeth is from the area, or because he began his professional career here at last year’s B.A.A. 10-K, Chelanga is looking far beyond the $100,000 first prize.
“I know people see the $100,000 in it,” said Chelanga in an exclusive interview with Race Results Weekly moments after Friday morning’s conference call had concluded. “But it is more than that. It is always fun to just come back here. It still is a dream and it is getting better and better.”
The talk of the money is just a cherry on top. Asked what he would do with the money, though, Chelanga ponders momentarily.
“God willing, if I win 100 grand – I just got married, I’m young and I’m going to have a family. So I’m going to save it for my child. I’m going to put it for education or something,” he said, drawing a smile from his wife who was sitting by his side.
On Sunday, neither Chelanga nor Smith will just be focusing on the B.A.A. Distance Medley race within the actual B.A.A. 10-K. They vow to compete for the B.A.A. 10-K title itself.
“It’s just going to come down to running smart and patiently, because at the end of the day, you never know what to expect in any race. I’m taking it steady, and I’m just going to make sure that I do what I can to make sure that I’m in a good position,” said Chelanga.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission