- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

Gurmessa Kumsa and Tatyana Chulakh quickly took any drama out of the 12th running of the Pikes Peek 10K yesterday.

Kumsa, a 28-year-old Ethiopian living in the District, broke free by 2 miles, while Chulakh, a 24-year-old Russian training in nearby Germantown, started pulling away after the first mile.

Both elite athletes, preparing for Sunday’s Sallie Mae 10K in the District, treated the race from the Shady Grove metro to White Flint Mall down Rockville Pike like a training session in almost perfect weather, aided by a downhill course and a nice tailwind for the 2,794 finishers.

They each took $600 for the victory and ended the Kenyan sweep of both races for the previous two years.

“Today’s good weather, no high humidity,” Chulakh said after breaking the tape in 33:19. “I feel good. This was my last competition training run before Sallie Mae.”

Only training partner and fellow Cheboksary, Russia, native Olga Romanova and D.C.-based Ethiopian Teyba Nasir were bold enough to run with Chulakh. Nasir fell off the pace after the first mile of 5:05, and eventually ended up sixth. When Chulakh posted a 5:20 second mile, the 26-year-old Romanova dropped back by six seconds.

Chulakh lengthened her lead to 24 seconds by the fourth mile and 27 by the fifth before finishing with a 28-second margin over Romanova.

Ethiopian Hirut Mengistu finished third yesterday in 34:29.

Chulakh might have faced better competition had defending champion Florence Jepkosgei (32:59 last year) not gotten lost on the way to the race and missed the start.

That also was a blessing for Kumsa; Jepkosgei was part of a contingent of Kenyans training out of West Chester, Pa., who were slated to run. Without the Kenyans, Kumsa — who said he has been nursing a sore right Achilles tendon — ran 19 seconds faster this year than he did in placing fourth here last year. He finished in 29:27.

“It started tight in the first mile, then loosened,” said Kumsa, who pulled away from his only competition — training partner Ezyras Deba — before the race was half over. “I was coming to win the race, completely to win. I’m really surprised because I won so easily.”

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