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FALMOUTH, MA (August 16, 2015)—In a doubly thrilling finish, Stephen Sambu of Kenya not only
outsprinted countrymen Micah Kogo and Leonard Korir to defend his New Balance Falmouth Road Race
title, but also beat the clock in the inaugural edition of “The Countdown” by three seconds over Diane
Nukuri of Burundi as Nukuri watched anxiously at the finish line.
Sambu, 27, won in 32:17, with Kogo two seconds back and Korir three seconds behind, in 32:19 and
32:20, respectively. First American, and fourth overall, was Sam Chelanga of Tucson, AZ, who was sworn
in as a U.S. citizen on Friday and said after the race, “I feel like I represented America very well. This
week has been very emotional from me.”
With the win, Sambu became the first man to repeat as champion since Gilbert Okari won his third
straight in 2006.
“To me, really, it’s very important,” said Sambu, who defeated not only the rest of the field, but also a
headache. “It means a lot to me to win twice in a row.”
Nukuri, 30, who lives and trains in Flagstaff, AZ, won in 36:47, with Sara Hall, 32, also of Flagstaff,
finishing as runner-up and first American in 37:10. Third was Sentayehu Ejigu of Ethiopia in 37:26.
The winners each pocketed $8,000, with Sambu taking home the $5,000 countdown bonus for breaking
the tape a rounded-up three seconds before the scoreboard clock, which started the moment Nukuri hit
the finish line and counted down a 4:28 gap, established by averaging the difference between the
winning men’s and women’s times from the past 10 years.
“He earned it,” said Nukuri of the bonus, which went to her close friend. “I just saw him crossing the
line; when he came downhill they were flying. I was barely moving it was so hot.”
Defending their wheelchair titles were Tatyana McFadden, 26, of Clarksville, MD, in 26:27, and James
Senbeta, 28, of Champaign, IL, in 24:32. McFadden’s time smashed the course record of 27:06 she set in
her debut here last year, and was just 35 seconds behind the men’s third-place finisher.
McFadden, an 11-time Paralympic medalist and three-time winner of the Boston Marathon, called the
crowd in the last two miles “electrifying.”
Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon winner who turned 40 on May 5, won the master’s division
in 34:01, finishing 10th overall, while Kara Haas, 44, of Chelmsford, MA, won the women’s master’s
crown in 44:14—22 seconds ahead of Joan Samuelson, who at the age of 58 placed second in 44:36.
In the men’s open race, Sambu’s pre-race plan called for a surge at the 5K mark, but between his
headache and a sunny, humid morning with temperatures in the 80s, he stayed with a pack of six
including Kogo, Korir, Chelanga, Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, and Daniel Salel of Kenya until the 6-mile
mark. There, Kipsiro and Salel were dropped, and the race was on.
“I knew it was going to be a sprint finish,” said Sambu, who surged on the final uphill and again on the
downhill to secure the victory.
On the women’s side, Nukuri led a pack of four, including Hall, Ejigu, and Amy Cragg, that had a 30-
meter lead on the field by the time they passed the iconic Nobska Light at Mile 1. At about Mile 2, Cragg
began to fade back, and Nukuri found herself easing away by the 5K mark.
“I knew she was going to be tough,” said Hall, who put up a good fight for second place. “I knew with
that time bonus, she was going to go for it.”
The 2015 edition of the race had 10,917 runners officially starting the race and 10,800 officially finishing,
for a 98.93 percent finishing rate. Among them were also Frank Shorter, who was celebrating the 40th
anniversary of his first win here in 1975 (1:15:31); three-time Falmouth winner Bill Rodgers (1:13:42);
and Dick and Rick Hoyt, who completed the race for the 36th consecutive time, their longest streak of
any race (1:38:05).
For more information on the 43rd running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, please visit our
website at www.falmouthitf.wpengine.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace;
our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/falmouthrr, and our Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace.
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About Falmouth Road Race
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973 and has become one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year the race draws an international field of Olympians, elite and recreational runners out to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The non-profit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.
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