KINGSPORT — No world records were set in Saturday night’s Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K Run.
But the outcome of the race was historical none the less.
Kenya’s Shadrack Kosgei broke free of the remaining contenders with one kilometer to go and became the first three-time winner of the race. His winning time was more than 30 seconds short of the world record.
“That was my goal from the beginning,” said Kosgei. “The world record was never in my mind. It was all about winning the race again.”
Joan Tangwar, also from Kenya, captured the women’s race.
To enhance the chances of breaking Peter Githuka’s 1996 world record time of 22:03 over the candle-lit streets of Kingsport, Crazy 8s organizers brought in Kiprono Kurgat to be the rabbit for the elite runners.
Over the first two miles of the race, Kurgat forced a high tempo for the 12 runners in the lead pack.
At the two-mile mark, with the leaders moving at a snappy pace, Kurgat fell back.
But the effects of the high humidity, grueling hills and fast pace began to take a toll.
One by one, the lead pack was reduced. Six runners were alone as they headed up the long, grinding hill in front of the Kingsport Town Center.
Kosgei stayed at the lead of the final pack and as they turned off Warpath and onto Memorial Blvd.
Then he put on a surge.
That move dropped one runner and a second surge by Kosgei as he was within sight of Fort Henry Drive sealed the deal. He was left alone at the front and moved into high gear.
“Knowing the course so well was very important,” said Kosgei. “I knew with 1K to go that I wanted to start my kick.
“That’s where I always make my move,” he added. “It’s the key to my success.”
Kosgei had victories in 2010-11 and was second in ‘12. He also notched a third-place finish in 2001.
Tangwar, running the Crazy 8s 8K for the first time, was inspired by the raucous fans along the course.
“The cheering just made me want to run faster,” said Tangwar, who is a recent graduate of USC Upstate and now resides in Chapel Hill, N.C. “But it was so hot and humid. That works against you.”
Prior to coming to Kingsport, Tangwar had watched a video of the Crazy 8s on the Internet.
“I could tell it would be a tough course,” said Tangwar. “But it was very interesting to actually run here. I’m very excited about my results.
“I missed by personal best time by 30 seconds, but winning was what I came to do.”