Kenyan Francis Kamiri successfully defends his Gum Tree 10k title

Francis Kamiri had a number in mind for his morning run in Saturday’s Gum Tree 10k and he was determined to nail it.

The defending race champion did – and blew the field away in the process.

The 31-year-old Kamiri quickly moved to the front at the start, was never threatened at all, and won in 29:41.

“I wanted to run a 29,” said Kamiri, who often consulted his watch as he maintained his under-5-minute pace throughout. A year ago, he ran a 30:14 and won by eight seconds.

Kamiri’s running partner, runner-up Richard Kimani, marveled at the effort.

“He was right there next to me at the start,” Kimani said. “Then, zoom, he was gone.”

Long gone – winning the race by slightly more than two minutes.

Kimani, the third-place finisher a year ago, finished in 31:44.

First-time Gum Tree participant Gladys Cheboi was the first female across the finish line, in 36:21, to finish 12th overall.

Kamiri and Cheboi each won $600. Both of them along with Kimani, run out of Homewood, Alabama.

Overcast skies and an occasional sprinkle greeted runners on the 6.2-mile course through Tupelo neighborhoods. There were 537 official finishers.

posted Monday May 13th