Chepkurai ‘proud’ after win

Lineth Chepkurai heard the rumbling of the car and the sound of the footsteps as she reached the end of Golden Gate Park.

But it wasn’t until she saw John Korir and Ridouance Harroufi run by her on the Great Highway in the final stretch of Sunday’s ING Bay to Breakers that she realized she had been caught. The 20-year-old Kenyan settled for third place in the 97th incarnation of the famous footrace, finishing the 12-kilometer (7.46-mile) course in 39 minutes, 22 seconds and earning the $7,000 prize as the first woman to cross the line.

“I heard their pace car coming and then I was surprised to see them pass me,” Chepkurai said. “But I was just trying to do my best and I’m very proud.”

Chepkurai and the rest of the elite women started Sunday’s race 4 minutes, 40 seconds before the top men, a head start designed to create drama down the stretch for the $25,000 purse awarded the top finisher. She began to pull away after cresting the Hayes Street Hill first (earning an additional $5,000) among the women’s field and distanced herself from the pack early in Golden Gate Park. Chepkurai cruised to the women’s title by a comfortable margin, besting fellow Kenyan Rose Kosgei (40:47) by nearly 90 seconds.

“[When you’re running by yourself] it’s hard to keep your speed up,” said Chepkurai, who narrowly missed repeating Edna Kiplagat’s 2007 feat of finishing ahead of the men. “I wanted to beat the men, but to be the ladies winner is a great honor aswell.”

Pacing was not an issue for the top Bay Area women’s finishers. Kathleen and Amanda Trotter — twins who graduated in June 2007 after standout running careers at Stanford — stayed within seconds of one another throughout the entire race.

Kathleen finished in 42:13 (fifth among women) with Amanda crossing the line in 42:19 (sixth). The twins will soon be leaving the Bay Area for medical school and wanted to experience the unique race before their departure.

“Everyone kept telling us we had to do Bay to Breakers before we left,” Kathleen Trotter said. “And it was such a fun time. We may have to come back and do itagain.”

melliser@sfexaminer.com

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