ING Bay to Breakers: Dogfight expected among elite male, female runners 

All eyes at the ING Bay to Breakers Sunday will undoubtedly focus on Kenyan Sammy Kitwara, 23, who last year broke the world record on the 12-kilometer course and is having another impressive season in 2010.

But ignoring Ethopian Tilahun Regassa, who finished second in 2009, would not be wise. In January, the 20-year-old rising star won the 2010 Zayed Half-Marathon — beating, of course, the sensational Kitwara.

The ongoing dogfight between the roadrunners will cap another whacky Bay to Breakers that sets some of the world’s best runners — as well as leagues of zany costumed characters — on a colorful course beginning downtown and ending at Great Highway.

More than 60,000 people are expected to participate in Sunday’s 99th running of the footrace, including 41 elite runners, organizers said.

On an unusually warm day in The City last year, Kitwara finished the 98th Bay to Breakers in 33 minutes, 31 seconds, besting the previous course record of 33:42 set in 1993 by fellow Kenyan Ismael Kirui.

After the race, a smiling Kitwara said he felt “very well, but very hot.”

This year, the Kenyan will not only bring a pair of recent second-place finishes at major half-marathon events — including the Lisbon Half-Marathon, where he finished about a minute behind a world-record effort — he will also enjoy cooler temperatures on the Bay to Breakers course.

The highs on Sunday are expected to be in the mid-60s, about 20-degrees cooler than it was on race day last year, forecasters said.

The competition should be equally fierce on the women’s side.

Another Kenyan, Lineth Chepkurui, 22, has been dominant this year, setting a pending world record at the 2010 Bloomsday, a similar 12-K footrace in Spokane, Wash., in 38 minutes, 10 seconds.

Chepkurui is up against fellow Kenyan Emily Chebet, the newly crowned World Cross Country Champion — a race known as the toughest on the planet.

Top-dog U.S. contenders include Oakland resident and Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, who became the fourth-fastest American of all time in the marathon, finishing second in the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon.

Danville-raised Scotty Baugh, a Chico State star, is also set to compete, organizers said.

“The elite field in 2010 is as deep and as talented as any in the 99-year history of the event,” race director Angela Fang said in a statement.

ING Bay to Breakers

WHEN: Sunday, 8 a.m.

WHERE: Starts at Beale and Howard streets, finishes at Great Highway

RACE: 12 kilometers (7.46 miles)

RECORDS: Men’s, Sammy Kitwara, 33:31, 2009; women’s, Asmae Leghzaoui, 38:22, 2005

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Men, Sammy Kitwara; women,  Teyba Erkesso


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