(143609)

Some of the fastest distance runners in the world converged upon Central Park this past Saturday for the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race, which included 7,885 runners in total. The competition was exciting enough, but photo finishes in the men’s and women’s field, competing for $25,000 in each, made each race even more exciting and eventful.

American Ben True and Kenyan Stephen Sambu both recorded a time of 28:13, with True breaking the tape one-tenth of a second before Sambu. Approaching the final leg of the race, both were neck and neck. Coming in third at 28:18 was Geoffrey Mutai, another Kenyan, and the New York City Marathon record holder.

Bill Moore photos

True’s strategy was to maintain pace with the race leaders up to the eight-kilometer mark. “I told myself that if I was with them at 8K, I’d have a good shot,” he said. He was correct, being the first American to win since 2007.

The woman’s race was just as competitive. Kenyans Joyce Chepkirui and Gladys Cherono came in first and second, both with a time of 32:33, but Chepkirui, with a tenth of a second difference, retained her title. She also won last year. Said Chepkirui, “I was very, very happy to win again, because it’s not easy for someone to win the race two times.” Placing third was Gemma Steel of Great Britain with a time of 33:47.

Also competing were youths ages 7 to 17. Winning the oldest division was high school student James Pratt, 16, a cross-country runner on his school’s track team, at James Ardsley High in Manhattan.

“It was a tough race. The heat made it hard, but I’m happy with how I did,” Pratt said.

Harlem resident Ernesto Morris, 73, one of the 7,885 casual runners, just happy to finish, stated while sitting and recuperating from the run, “With the sun and heat, you gotta be in shape. These races can kill you!”