CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Similar strategies propelled Kenyans Micah Kogo and Joyce Chepkirui to victory at the 16th Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday morning.
Both winners surged ahead during Mile 5 of the 6.2-mile race, held amid cool, cloudy conditions.
The 27-year-old Kogo, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, used mid- and late-race speed to set aside an original pack of nine other challengers and win the men’s division for the second time in three years with a time of 28 minutes, 3.2 seconds.
The final threat to Kogo along the scenic coastal route to Fort Williams Park came from countryman Silas Kipruto, but a blistering 4:15 fifth mile enabled the 2011 race champion — also the runner-up at this year’s Boston Marathon — to gain full control of the field.
“Before 5K there was still a big crew,” said Kogo, “but after 5 kilometers I started to see if I could push the pace a little higher, and when I saw some hills down the road I tried to push more and then I saw the gap opening.”
Kipruto finished 5.3 seconds behind Kogo as Kenyan runners swept the top four positions. Emmanual Mutai (28:21.9) and Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet (28:27.0) were next, followed by the top American, fifth-place Meb Keflezighi in 28:37.2.
Keflezighi, 38, led the front pack for much of the first three miles, but then waned as Kogo and Kipruto turned up the pace and ridded themselves of additional competition.
“I’ve got to congratulate those guys, they are beautiful runners,” said Keflezighi, the silver medalist in the 2004 Olympic marathon and fourth in that event in 2012. “I started out pretty good at a 4:30 or 4:28 pace. I was in the lead for 2 ½ or 3 miles but on the downhills they had the (leg) turnover and I was lacking that and they created a gap and it was tough to close the gap.
“But on a good day, on a perfect day I can go with them, and I ran fast on this course and I’m relatively happy. You shouldn’t be satisfied with not winning, but they train hard, too, and there were four guys better than me today.”
Among other top finishers overall was ninth-place Gabe Proctor of Corinth and Gunnison, Colo., the NCAA Division II track champion in both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs as a senior at Western Colorado State University this spring.
Proctor stayed with the leaders for the better part of two miles before falling off that pace, then rebounded late in the race to finish third among all Americans in the record field of 6,244 runners that represented 16 countries, 39 states and more than 250 Maine cities and towns.
“Top 10 was my goal,” he said.
Chepkirui, 24, accelerated the pace of the women’s competition around the 5-mile mark in an effort to separate herself from a group of runners that included fellow Kenyan Linet Masai, Ethiopians Sule Utura, Yebrugal Melese and Buzunesh Deba, and Gemma Steel of Great Britain.
Only Steel was able to hang close until the final 200 meters when Chepkirui pulled away to win the women’s title in 31:23.2.
“At 5 miles I started to move,” said Chepkirui. “I was in the lead but there were about five ladies there so I decided to move.”
The win may have provided some redemption for Chepkirui, who was left off the Kenyan team for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships set for Aug. 10-18 in Moscow.
“I was supposed to run the 10,000 but they refused me,” she said. “I knew I was in good shape.”
Steel finished 12 seconds behind Chepkirui in a personal-best time of 31:35.2, with Utura (31:37.6), Melese (31:39.5) and Kenya’s Masai (32:03.6) completing the top five.
The top American in the women’s field was Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist and the U.S. record holder in the marathon and half-marathon.
The 40-year-old Kastor, who planned to leave Sunday for Moscow to compete for Team USA in the women’s marathon at the world championships, also broke the TD Beach to Beacon women’s masters division course record with her seventh-place overall time of 32:28.2. Judy St. Hilaire set the previous mark of 33:37.0 in 2000.
Each of the top 10 women’s finishers in this year’s field posted a sub-33:00 time — a first in race history.
Krige Schabort, a native of South Africa now living in Cedartown, Ga., became the first wheelchair athlete to complete the TD Beach to Beacon course in less than 22 minutes, finishing in 21:53 to best the previous record by 1:34.
Christina Kouros, 18, of Cape Elizabeth won her second women’s wheelchair title in the last three years with a time of 41:17.
And 43-year-old Joseph Ekuom of Kingston, N.Y., was the men’s masters champion in 32:55.0.