Kenyan speedster Sammy Kitwara, the dominator of the Zazzle Bay to Breakers 12K footrace, won the event for a third time in four years under blue skies Sunday.
However, Kitwara, 25, who set a world record at B2B in 2009, wasn’t totally pleased with his latest performance. He wasn’t the first runner to cross the finish line and earn the $25,000 prize.
That large payout went to the winner of the women’s field, 28-year-old Ethiopian Mamitu Daska, who started out with an early lead and never looked back at the 101st running of the colorful race, which starts downtown at Howard and Beale streets and ends on the Great Highway at Ocean Beach.
About 40,000 registered runners enjoyed blue skies at this year’s event. The warmer conditions, however, may have kept records from being broken. The soft-spoken Daska, who fought through a cramp and the brutal climb on Hayes Street Hill, fell to her knees after crossing the finish line and kissed the pavement.
She finished in 39 minutes, 2 seconds, holding off not only women racers but also the men, who had a later start time. Kitwara could not catch her in the final 400 meters of the race, finishing in 34:40.
Daska not only earned $25,000 for finishing first. She also earned $7,000 for topping the women’s field and another $5,000 for being the first to cross Hayes Street Hill.
Kitwara, who won for a second time in 2010 but did not compete last year due to a scheduling conflict, said he was disappointed by his performance on Sunday. He said he strategized based upon other runners in the mens’ field, which ran slower than expected.
He said he was gunning for the top prize money.
“If I could, I’d tell you what I’d do with $25,000,” he said jokingly after the race.
Still, Kitwara earned $7,000 for winning the men’s field and another $5,000 for being the first male runner to cross Hayes Street Hill.
Kenyan Allan Kiprono finished second overall in 34:49. Direba Merga of Ethiopia was third at 35:44.
For the women, Diane Nukuri Johnson of Burundi finished second for the women in 40:02. Kenyan Jelliah Tingea finished third for the women with a time of 40:33.