Chris Muldoon has learned a thing or two about running the Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase. The most important lesson for the 34-year-old? Don't try to stay with the lead pack.
The elites in this field will burn you out by the first mile.
Muldoon heeded his own advice and was out of sight of the lead pack when the 38th annual race took off from the corner of Bidwell and Elmwood on Friday night. Running his own race under hot and humid conditions, the Amherst resident was the top local male runner and placed 11th overall in the field at 20 minutes, 45 seconds.
That was a full two minutes behind 31-year-old Kenyan Mutai Kiprop, who won the race in a time of 18:45, edging 27-year-old Kenyan Cleophas Ngetich by five seconds.
"It’s cool to see (the elites) warming up beforehand and see how relaxed they are at the line because they're professionals, so they come in with a different mindset than we do," Muldoon said. "Back in the day when I was younger, I was more concerned with how close I was to those guys. But 10 years later I’m like, OK let those guy go and I’ll run my own race.
"But it’s cool to see that caliber of runner come to Buffalo, because it doesn’t happen very often," Muldoon said. "I think it’s a neat experience for competitive runners and every level, really. There are few sports where you can literally compete against some of the best in the country or the world. You can’t do that in football. You can’t do that in basketball. But in running you can."
Mutai Kiprop wins the 38th annual Buffalo Subaru Four Mile Chase. pic.twitter.com/di6xn1rXbW
— Harry Scull Jr (@hsjrphoto) July 21, 2018
The best in Buffalo lined up with an impressive professional lineup, but the elites started with a fast pace that quickly dropped the rest of the field. It was a tight pack to start, with five runners taking the early lead on Elmwood Avenue -- Kiprop, Ngetich, Grant Fisher, Omar Boulama and Linus Kiplagat.
By the time they hit the first mile, at 4 minutes and 20 seconds, it was a race between Kiprop and Ngetich.
As the course came through the Gates Circle area, Kiprop had pulled ahead. He came through Mile 2 at 9:10 and started to pull away.
"When I was around two miles, I realized I could make a move," Kiprop said.
Kiprop hit Mile 3 at 14:01. While he had created some distance, Ngetich wasn't going to give up, making a push near the end but unable to close the gap.
"It was great to win," Kiprop said. "It's my first time to be in the U.S.A. I'm excited to be here." Kiprop is training in Bowling Green, Ohio. He won the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon on June 3, just a few days after he broke a 35-year-old course record at the Cotton Row 10K in Huntsville, Ala., running that race in 28:39.
Victory Chepngno was the women's winner. The 24-year-old Kenyan, who also lives and trains in Bowling Green, Ohio, finished in 21 minutes, 12 seconds, nearly a minute ahead of second-place finisher Margaret Wanahiga (22:13), a Kenyan runner who trains in Lansing, Mich.
Chepngno was third at the Utica Boilermaker 15K on July 8.
For winning the open divisions, Kiprop and Chepngno each win $1,000.
Muldoon, as the top local finisher, won $75. So, too, did 22-year-old East Aurora native Mackenzie Donahue, who finished in 23:42.
But it was Sarah Danner of Buffalo who had the best time of a Western New York woman. The 24-year-old took third overall in 23:12 to win the $300 prize money for that placing.
"It wasn't the time I wanted but considering the weather, I was happy with it," said Muldoon. "It’s been a tough summer racing. Every race I’ve done has been hot so I just judge it by the effort. So it was pretty good. It’s my favorite race by far in Buffalo.
"It's the location, the atmosphere, having it be an evening race which is unique. I just wish it wasn't always 85 degrees," Muldoon said with a smile, a nod to the history of the Subaru 4 Mile Chase being run under hot and humid conditions. "Just the competition is great. It has very generous prize money. It's everything for a competitive runner in Western New York. The distance is unique, but it's close enough to a 5K so you kind of know what you can do."
Awards are based on prize money, which can make the results a bit confusing. For example, Alene Reta finished third overall with a time of 19:02. But the resident of New York City was the top finishing American citizen, so he wins first in that division and the $600 prize money that goes with it.
There also are no duplicate awards, which is why Danner took third in the open female division and Donahue won the prize for top local female.
Mengistue Nebsi, 40, who lives in New York City, won the men's masters, and $550, with a time of 20:17.
Melissa Johnson-White, 37, of Fairport, was the top American woman with a time of 22:28 while Lioudmila Kortchaguina, 46, of Markham, Ont., won the women's masters in a time of 24:06.
2018 Subaru Buffalo 4-Mile Chase
Money Award Winners
1. Mutai Kiprop 18:45 ($1,000)
2. Cleophas Ngetich 18:50 ($500)
3. Omar Boulama 19:13 ($300)
1. Victory Chepngno 21:12 ($1,000)
2. Margaret Wanahiga 22:13 ($500)
3. Sarah Danner 23:12 ($300)
1. Alene Reta 19:02 ($600)
2. Grant Fisher 19:14 ($350)
3. Patrick Geoghegan 20:12 ($150)
1. Melissa Johnson-White 22:28 ($600)
2. Laurel Leone 22:46 ($350)
3. Kathryn Potter 23:33 ($150)
1. Mengistu Nebsi 20:17 ($550)
2. Julius Kiptoo 20:54 ($250)
3. Mark Andrews 21:18 ($100)
1. Lioudmila Kortchaguina 24:06 ($550)
2. Heather Webster 24:57 ($250)
3. Emily Patton 24:59 ($100)