Rain, at times heavy, delayed, but did not prevent, the 40th running of the Falmouth Road Race yesterday. The approximately 12,800 participants waited patiently for the worst of the weather to pass, and the race to begin.
After a delay of about 20 minutes, during which employees of the Department of Public Works readied the rain swept course, the race began with the start of the wheelchair division, shortly after 10 a.m. Minutes later, the elite runners, some of the best professional distance racers in the world, set out from the start line in Woods Hole.
Despite the slick, potentially dangerous conditions, the wheelchair athletes completed the seven-mile course with remarkable speed, some crossing the finish line in Falmouth Heights before half an hour had elapsed. Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Georgia, secured his second straight first-place finish, and his third in the past four years, with a time of 23:53. Craig Blanchette of Battle Ground, Washington placed second to Schabort for the second straight year, after winning the race in 2010, and dominating it between 1991 and 2000, when he took first seven out of ten years. Rounding out the top three was Massachusetts' own Patrick Doak, a resident of Carlisle, who won back-to-back Road Races in 2008 and 2007.
Jill Moore of Champaign, Illinois took first in the women's wheelchair division, finishing with a time of 39:09. Following her were Chelsea Crytzer of Parsippany, New Jersey, and Christina Kouros of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, both of whom moved up one spot from their 2011 finishing positions.
Distance powerhouse Kenya was extremely well represented among the top runners, in both the men's and women's divisions. Margaret Wangari edged her countrywoman Emily Chebet, with a time of 36:54, to win the women's division. Fellow Kenyans Rita Jeptoo and Lineth Chepkurai took fourth and fifth, respectively, with Ethiopia's Wude Ayalew Yimer finishing third.
It was a Kenyan sweep among the top five men. Stanley Biwott led the way, with a time of 32:01, followed by last year's winner, Lucas Rotich. In third was Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet, followed by Kiplomo Kumatai and Silas Kipruto.
Soon enough, the rest of the field began to appear. Alone or in groups, running for charity or for themselves, staggering with fatigue or ready to run another seven miles, hailing from right next door or halfway around the world, under 10 or over 70 or somewhere in between, the thousands of runners breasted the final, demanding hill, and covered the homestretch.
The clouds dissipated long before the steady stream of racers did, and the sun was shining without obstruction by the time the race was finally over.