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Last year, for the first time ever, a male runner from Ethiopia won the Quad-City Times Bix 7, overcoming the legion of Kenyan runners who always populate the field.
This year it might be time for a break-through from another African nation: Tanzania.
Gabriel Geay, a 22-year-old runner from the country directly to the south of Kenya, must be regarded as one of the favorites to prevail in the annual 7-mile jaunt through the streets of Davenport.
He already has had a phenomenal year on the U.S. road racing scene, winning the Lilac Bloomsday 12k and Bay to Breakers 12k in May and crossing the finish line first in the Utica Boilermaker 15k little more than a week ago. He also had top-five finishes in perhaps the two biggest 10ks around: The Peachtree Road Race and Bolder Boulder.
Geay first came to U.S. as a 19-year-old in 2016 attempting to run Olympic qualifying times for 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters. He narrowly missed in both but decided to stick around and run a few road races, and claimed his first big victory at Peachtree. He came back the following year to win Bolder Boulder and Lilac Bloomsday.
With the withdrawal of three-time Bix 7 champion Silas Kipruto from the field, there now is only one runner entered in the men’s field who has competed in the Davenport race as an elite invitee.
Kenya’s Kenneth Kosgei placed 12th in his only visit here a year ago.
Kipruto was seeking to break the Bix 7 record for most top-five finishes by a men’s runner — he has done it six times — but he informed race officials last week that he would not run because of a lack of fitness.
The Bix 7 men’s championship has been won seven times by a runner named Korir.
John Korir won a record five times (in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004) and Leonard Korir did it twice (2013 and 2015).
This year’s race will include Kenya’s Dominic Korir. Korir (no relation to the previous Bix champs), who may be better suited to the hilly course than almost anyone.
Dominic Korir trains at high altitude in Colorado Springs and in April he won the Horsetooth Half-marathon, a race that begins with a grueling 1.8-mile climb up something called Monster Mountain.
It sounds even more imposing than the Brady Street Hill.
Jarius Birech will be among the most experienced Kenyans in this year’s Bix 7 field.
He’s just not that experienced in races in which he isn’t required to leap over hurdles and bound across small pools of water. Birech, 26, was the top 3,000-meter steeplechase runner in the world in 2014, winning the African championships and taking the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games that year. He twice has run the steeplechase under eight minutes, a feat that’s only been accomplished 38 times in history.
But he just now is starting to become more involved in events other than the steeplechase.
He has shown promise, however. Birech won a major cross country race in Italy earlier this year and also won the Crescent City Classic 10k on a very flat course in New Orleans.(07/26/2019) ⚡AMP
This race attracts the greatest long distance runners in the world competing to win thousands of dollars in prize money. It is said to be the highest purse of any non-marathon race. Tremendous spectator support, entertainment and post party. Come and try to conquer this challenging course along with over 15,000 other participants, as you "Run With The Best." In...more...