Athletics: Big purse may help ease pain of London race

By Steve Landells

Kim Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kim Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Kiwi distance runner Kim Smith hopes to clinch a lucrative US$100,000 first prize on offer in Boston this week to help soften the blow of her Olympic disappointment.

The Papakura-born athlete wound up 15th in the marathon at the London Games after struggling to cope with the wet conditions and twisty nature of the 42.2km course.

Yet in Smith's first post-Olympic competition, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) Half-Marathon - the final leg of an innovative three-race series - the Kiwi has every chance of snaring the six-figure jackpot prize.

Organised by the BAA to coincide with its 125th anniversary, the Distance Medley Series comprises a 5km, 10km and half-marathon, with scoring based on the cumulative time from those races.

After the first two events - which took place in April and June - Smith holds a healthy 16-second advantage over nearest rival Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia and the battle for the US$100,000 would appear a straight battle between the pair.

Smith, though, will start favourite and with a half-marathon personal best almost two minutes quicker than Kiros, the American-based Kiwi is understandably optimistic.

"The series is a new concept and I am definitely more confident running a half-marathon [than the shorter distances of 5km and 10km]," says Smith, who is preparing to compete in the New York Marathon on November 4.

"My coach [Ray Tracey] never really likes me to run a half-marathon so close to a marathon and maybe I wouldn't have had I not been in contention [for first prize], but I think he understands my reasons for running.

"It will be pretty cool to win the money. It will be the most money I have won running."

Smith, based in Providence, Rhode Island, has not had time to wallow in the disappointment of her Olympic performance - marrying long-time boyfriend and fellow runner Pat Tarpy earlier this month .

The pair tied the knot in Tarpy's home town of North Yarmouth, Maine, but such is her focus on training for New York, Smith went for an hour-long run on the morning of her big day with her two bridesmaids; Molly Huddle, the US international, and Irish athlete Mary Cullen.

In the Big Apple this month, Smith, who finished fifth in the 2010 and 2011 New York Marathons, is seeking a top three finish but explains next season could see her shift priorities to the track for the world championships in Moscow.

"I watched the track events in London and a lot of people who were running track had moved up to the marathon," Smith, 30, explains.

"Not as many people are now running track, which is a little weaker. I definitely think I could have done better on the track [than the marathon at the Olympics].

"I did say in the past that I would never run track again but my coach and I have talked about me doing more 5km and 10km and that could be also what I do in Moscow."

Yet switching back to the Boston Half-Marathon - should she complete victory in the BAA Medley Series, what would she spend the money on?

"The honeymoon, and we'd be looking at somewhere like the Caribbean," she says. "We haven't planned one yet but we hope to go away after New York."

- Herald on Sunday

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