By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Philip Mosima had the best recent 10k of anyone in the field for Saturday morning’s Gum Tree 10k, but he was content to run with th lead pack until the final stretch.
Mosima, 36, outkicked fellow Texas resident Sammy Kiplagat to win in drizzly conditions – not exactly the preference of the Kenya-born runner.
“I much prefer to run when its hot, but this day turned out well,” said Mosima, who led perhaps the deepest field of elite runners ever attracted to the Gum Tree event.
Mosima won in 30:21, with Kiplagat at 30:22. Last year’s winner, Emmanuel Bor (30:25) was third.
Lydia Kosgei (35:14) finished 20th overall and easily defended her women’s title, followed by Marion Kandie (36:16) and Tiffany Dudley (36:27).
There were 10 men’s runners in the field with 10k times better than last year’s winning time of 30:20. Mosima came in with a best recent time of 28:24.
“It was a strong group of runners and I think we were all waiting to see who would make a move,” Mosima said.
The lanky Kiplagat, 39, who’s at least a head taller than most of his rival elite runners, set the pace for most of the second half of the race.
“I thought I had it,” Kiplagat said. “But I knew (Mosima) was also going to have a strong finish.”
The lead pack ran at relatively pokey pace for the first couple of miles, before Kiplagat picked it up. “I’ve been running well lately,” he said. “After a slow start, it was time to see who could stay up front.”
A pack of 10 eventually thinned to five by the time the runners got to McCullogh Blvd. for the final mile.
Mosima elbowed his way ahead for a moment as the course went over the railroad bridge on Franklin St., but took control as the leaders ran past the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot.
“I knew I had something left there at the end,” Mosima said.
Mosima and Kosgei each picked up $1,200 for the victory out of a total race purse of $8,700.
Kosgei and fellow Western Kentucky student Kandie ran together for most of the race.
“This was perfect weather for racing. I like the cool temperatures,” Kosgei said. “And I love coming here. The course is so friendly, with everybody out cheering for you along the way.”
Last weekend’s Corinth Coca Cola Classic 10k winner, Josh Whitehead, ran with the lead pack until the uphill climb on Front St. in the final mile. he finished fifth. Dudley, the former Mississippi State standout, was the Corinth women’s winner.
There were 881 finishers in the 36th Gum Tree 10k and an additional 238 entries in the morning’s 2k run/walk.
Contributing: Cathy Wood
For complete results check out today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.