Kiptoo, Masai seeking big performances at Bolder Boulder

It's time to be bold for NAZ Elite.

The running team is sending Wesley Kiptoo and Alex Masai to the BOLDERBoulder 10K road race in Colorado set for Monday with the hopes of making some noise on the men's side of the prestigious event after producing some solid outings on the women's side the last few years.

Last year's BOLDERBoulder champion, in fact, was NAZ Elite's Aliphine Tuliamuk, who finished in third place at the 2019 edition of the race and was runner-up in 2018.

“We would love to win on the men’s side, but it’s really, really hard," NAZ Elite Executive Director Ben Rosario said Wednesday.

Only former member Scott Fauble has produced a top-10 finish in the men's race for NAZ Elite, taking sixth in 29:54 in 2016. This will be the eighth year that NAZ Elite has sent at least one athlete to the event since the team started racing in 2014.

The nature of the team-focused event typically leads to a loaded pack running up front, according to Rosario.

“When you have got three athletes from Kenya, three from Ethiopia, three from the U.S., et cetera, et cetera -- and they are all distance-running powerhouses -- it’s going to be hard to win the race because all these teams have somebody who could win.”

Rosario thinks that altitude also has something to do with how athletes perform at the race, which starts at 5,275 feet of elevation, peaks at 5,377 and ends at around 5,360 feet.

Fauble was born at altitude in Colorado, as was Tuliamuk, who is a Kenyan-born American. Both Kiptoo and Masai were born and raised in Kenya at an elevation higher than Flagstaff.

“It’s not a guarantee that they will run well, but I think they have a better chance to run well and race well at altitude than an athlete who was born and raised at sea level," Rosario said.

And both Kiptoo and Masai are in shape and coming off good performances.

Kiptoo won his last time out, repeating as the champion at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 7. Meanwhile, Masai placed second in a 10,000-meter track event earlier this month and was fourth at the BAA 5K road race in mid-April with a time of 13:27.

“He’s look quite good in training over the last month," Rosario said of Masai, "and I would just say that he’s ready to go.”

Kiptoo normally draws energy from races that feature such strong talent up front, as the second-year pro likes competing with athletes who can produce the sort of times and results he hopes as his career unfolds. 

“He’s certainly excited about the race. He’s shown so far in his young career that he enjoys these big road races, and when he is fresh and ready to go, he runs very, very well," Rosario said.

Before Monday's BOLDERBoulder, NAZ Elite will have two athletes in Krissy Gear and Katie Wasserman at Friday's USATF Distance Classic 1500m on the UCLA campus.

Rosario said there will be 17 athletes packed on the track for the "regular-season" race that will provided a chance for Wasserman to get some racing rust off her legs after a pause in racing due to illness and Gear to keep the momentum going and experience building.

Wasserman has not raced since mid-February at the USATF Indoor Championships, where she produced a 12th-place result in the 3000m.

posted Friday May 26th
by Mike Hartman