Kangogo, Wilt claim Heart Run victories

bbragg@adn.comApril 27, 2013 

— For the second year in a row, Jake Moe etched his name in the Alaska Heart Run record book, running a sizzling time Saturday that ranks as the fifth fastest in the history of Anchorage's annual rite of spring.

Coupled with his effort last year, Moe owns two of the 10 fastest times recorded since the 5-kilometer race began in 1985.

If only he was fast enough to win Alaska's biggest 5-K.

Moe, 28, posted his second straight runner-up finish, finishing a heartbeat away from victory in a race that is all about heartbeats. A field of about 5,300 turned out on a brisk, sunny morning to participate in the Heart Run and help raise money for the American Heart Association, which this year collected a record $240,000 that will help fight the battle against heart disease and stroke.

Moe once again settled for second place behind a Kenyan runner -- Alfred Kangogo this year, David Kiplagat last year. So at least he can claim the honor of twice being the Heart Run's top American runner.

"I've been told that a lot," Moe said.

Victories went to a pair of former UAA runners -- Kangogo and Unalaska's Hallidie Wilt.

Wilt, a volunteer coach for the Seawolves this track season, breezed to the women's victory in 18 minutes, 3 seconds, beating Service High senior Jenette Northey by 22 seconds.

Wilt, 24, said she has a tendency to start too fast but managed to restrain herself Saturday.

"I went out with some other guys my own pace and kind of stayed with it," she said.

She ran the first mile in 5:19 and averaged a 5:49 pace over the 3.1-mile course on the UAA and Alaska Pacific University campuses.

Wilt, who said she never spotted a woman ahead of her, finished 34th overall in a field of 1,489 runners in the timed event. Another 3,800 or so took part in the untimed 5-K and 3-K runs.

Moe led for nearly the entire race. Kangogo passed him in the final 200 meters by using the finishing speed that made him a three-time NCAA Division II All-American in the 1,500 meters.

Kangogo's winning time of 14:52.48 is the fourth-fastest time in race history, and the fastest since 1996. Moe was a step behind in 14:52.86.

Defending champion Micah Chelimo, a three-time NCAA Division II national champion who was named UAA's Athlete of the Year the night before the race, was third in 15:01, and Kiplagat, the Heart Run champ in 2011 and 2007, placed a distant fourth in 15:43.

"Micah and Jake and David led for the first three K," Kangogo said, "and then I decided to move."

Moe tried to ward him off as best he could, but Kangogo simply had too much finishing speed. Kangogo looked smooth and almost fresh at the finish line; Moe looked gassed.

"He's got a kick you wouldn't believe," Moe said.

Kangogo, 25, wrapped up a stellar career with the Seawolves this winter during the indoor track and field season and is targeting on the Mayor's Marathon as his first big post-collegiate race.

Saturday was about enjoying the big crowd, good weather and high spirits, he said. "Let's just go out and enjoy ourselves," said Kangogo, who is due to graduate in December with a degree in nursing and nutrition.

Kangogo and Moe didn't come close to Marcus Dunbar's 1995 record of 14:39.1, but they became the 12th and 13th runners in Heart Run history to break the 15-minute barrier.

Last year, Kiplagat and Moe both ran sub-15s, marking the first time anyone had done so since 1996.

Dunbar, the Kodiak High running coach who is a former U.S. champion in the indoor mile, owns six of the sub-15s. The only others with multiple sub-15 times are Moe and Joe Alward, who like Moe posted both of his blazing efforts in runner-up performances, each time placing second to Dunbar.

Moe, an electrical engineer for ML&P who helps coach running at Anchorage Christian, won last summer's Moose's Tooth Marathon and is training for this fall's Chicago Marathon. From his perspective, finishing second to Kangogo or one of the other Kenyans is nothing to hang his head about.

"They're national champions," Moe said. "I know this isn't the race they're peaking for like I am. Usually they win.

"It's inspiring. It's a challenge. If they weren't there today, I wouldn't have run as fast."

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