The two winners of the Subaru Buffalo 4-Mile Chase had virtually the same strategy in Friday night's run around Elmwood Village -- take off after 2 miles or so, and don't look back.
It was the winning formula for Demesse Tefera of Ethiopia and Tara Quinn-Smith of Toronto, who captured the titles in the 27th annual race.
The 27-year-olds won $1,000 each. Quinn-Smith also won last year.
Tefera led a pack of five runners -- all from either Ethiopia or Kenya -- that broke away from the rest of the talented field after about the first mile. They swapped positions for the next mile, hitting the halfway point in 9:09. That meant the pack had run the second mile in about 4:50 -- not fast enough for Tefera.
"It was a slow pace. In the last 2 miles I picked it up," he said.
Tefera put on a burst, and suddenly had a good-sized lead. He hit the 3-mile mark at 13:39, and soon was almost a block ahead of the field as it ran up Elmwood Avenue's slight incline.
"No problem -- it was a good race," Tefera said.
Tefera finished in 18:23, a time he described as "medium." It was seven seconds ahead of his brother, Wegayehu Tefera. Henry Githuka was third at 18:32. Andrew Cloke of Elmira was the top American, as he finished sixth in 19:15, while Chris Muldoon of Orchard Park was the best local runner at 19:34.
Demesse Tefera has only been in this country for a little over a year. He spent two years running in Japan, and arrived in New York City last summer. Tefera plans to run in November's New York City Marathon.
Quinn-Smith may have even surprised herself a little bit by successfully defending her women's title, considering that was her first race in almost a year. She missed about nine months due to an injury. Even so, her time in 2007 was only a second slower than last year's winning time.
"It went pretty well," Quinn-Smith said. "After the second mile, I took it out."
Quinn-Smith made up about 40-50 meters with a burst around the halfway point and took the lead for good. She finished in 21:59, seven seconds ahead of Jessica Kuhr of Kirkland, Ont., while Emily Tallon of Kingston, Ont., was third in 22:13. Melissa Converse of Blacklick, Ohio, was the first American (fourth overall) in 22:38, while Allison Carr of West Seneca was fifth in 22:41.
The Subaru race always attracts a strong international field. After two straight wins, it's obvious that Quinn-Smith has learned to thrive in good competition.
"For me, I try not to get caught up in that," she said. "Everyone is human. Everyone has good days and bad days. You run for yourself and go out there and do the best you can," Quinn-Smith said.
"We [she and her husband, Andrew] really liked this race last year," Quinn-Smith said. "It's a great community, and it's a beautiful course to run."
In the masters' division. Steve Boyd of Kingston, Ont., crossed the finish line in 19:52. Paul Mwangi of Kenya was second in 20:12, followed by Zeljko Sabol of Kitchener, Ont., (20:28). David O'Keeffe of Orchard Park was the first local runner among masters, finishing fourth (and first in his 45-49 age-group) at 20:45.
Debbi Kilpatrick-Morris of Strongville, Ohio, was first among women's masters in 24:34. Michelle Mead of Berea, Ohio, was right behind in 24:38, while Rebecca Carroll of Orchard Park was third in 24:39. More than 700 runners took part.