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Koskei, Ngige take titles in Subaru 4 Mile Chase

The best runners in the Subaru 4 Mile Chase usually register in advance, and are given low bib numbers to reflect their elite status.

So who was that guy wearing No. 1023 in the front of the pack on Friday night in Buffalo?

"I decided to do the race yesterday," said Julius Koskei, a Kenyan who lives in Maineville, Ohio.

Koskei certainly belonged at the head of the race that features some superb runners every year. He won the event by a comfortable 13 seconds with a time of 18 minutes, 30 seconds. Koskei earned $1,000 for his victory in the 37th annual event.

In the women's race, Monicah Ngige successfully defended her title. The Kenyan finished in 20:20 for a 16-second margin.

Koskei made something of a statement right from the start of the race. He helped to push the pace in the first mile, leaving several others behind. The lead pack hit the mile mark in 4:25 - very fast on a humid night on the city streets.

"That was my plan," Koskei said. "I wanted to go fast in the first mile, and then break away."

Simon Ndirangu and Zakaria Djouma stayed with Koskei for as long as they could, but the eventual winner started to pull away from his two rivals in the second mile. Koskei hit the second mile in 9:09.

A little more than halfway through the race, Koskei took a quick look back behind him. There wasn't anyone within 15 seconds of him, and the race was essentially over.

"At mile three, I knew nobody could catch me," he said.

Koskei has a very good resume. He already has won four races this year, including one last Saturday in Ames, Iowa - taking a 10-kilometer race in 30:07. The 35-year-old once ran a marathon in 2:10:14. Koskei had run in the Chase twice before, placing second and third.

In this year's edition, Ndirangu finished second in 18:43, while Bernard Lagat, a 22-year-old from Kenya, came in third in 19:01. Ben Rainero of Ithaca was the top American male runner with a time of 19:17.

On the women's side, Ngige thinks she may have made a bit of a tactical error in the early going.

"The first mile was too fast," she said.

Even so, she couldn't pull away from the entire field that way. Not only did the competition come from America, but she was a new Buffalo resident.

Allie Kieffer stayed with Ngige for about three miles. Eventually, though, the 2016 winner had a little more in the tank to pull out the victory.

"After the second mile I decided to go," Ngige said. "I wanted to break the course record, but it was too hot. It's a great course, so fast, and I was hoping to run a great time."

Keiffer had a nice consolation prize. Her time of 20:36 broke the American record for the race, good for a $500 bonus.

"I pushed the pace," she said. "I was with her until about a mile to go. I raced Sunday" in Utica "in 15K so it's a tough turnaround. But I wanted to win badly.

"I don't know if people know how hard it is to stay with the Kenyan runners. But I'm definitely happy - just a little tired."

Emma Jebet finished in third place in 21:10.

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