Leonard Korir finally avenged his longtime rival when it mattered most at the Falmouth Road Race. The 32-year-old native of Colorado Springs took third and beat Stephen Sambut by one place last year, but that came after four straight years of placing second or third in the race as Sambu claimed victory. The natives of Kenya and former college rivals, Korir at Iona and Sambu at Arizona, have raced each other hundreds of times in cross-country, on the track and on the roads, but they’ve never been quite so competitive as they have been at this historic, seven-mile race from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights on Cape Cod.
In this year’s race on Aug. 18, Korir made a move at the 5.5-mile mark and ran away from his rival to win in 32:11 with an 18-second margin. In doing so, Korir, who became a U.S. citizen in 2016, become the first American to win the race since Mark Curp did it in 1988. Korir’s efforts earned him a handsome paycheck of $18,000 total: $10,000 for winning, plus $3000 for finishing as the first American, and another $5000 for finishing before the gender-equalizing “countdown clock” ran out. Sharon Lokedi of Kenya was the women’s winner, (36:29), outrunning American Sara Hall for the victory.