The Bronx, N.Y.- Edward Cheserek, your time has come.
At the Eastern States Championship of the Manhattan College Invitational Sunday, the St. Benedict’s (N.J.) junior ran 11:55.39, the fastest time ever on Van Cortlandt Park’s 2 ½ mile course in its modern-day form. Cheserek’s time surpassed Joe Rosa of Plainsboro, N.J., who ran 12:03.8 in 2009.
On an 80-degree day that had runners wobbling out of the chute, Cheserek seized control of the race immediately, running away from an elite field in a performance reminiscent of Matt Centrowitz, Luis Ostolozaga, and yes, Steve Prefontaine.
“I didn’t think I would get the record,” said Cheserek, a native of Kenya. “Once I was out there I decided to make a go for it.”
Cheserek opened up a 10-second gap by the bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway, less than a mile into the race. Tim Ball of Piscataway, N.J., Dustin Wilson of Chesnut Hill, Pa., and Fayetteville-Manlius’s Nick Ryan tried to stay in contact.
“He disappeared right away,” said Ball, who finished in second place at 12:21.03 in his first time running the course.
When Cheserek’s lithe figure materialized on the horizon with around 400 meters to go, the crowd near the finish began to murmur. The clock read 11:00, and they knew they were watching something historic.
Applause kicked up from both sides of the straightaway as Cheserek churned through the final 200 meters, sweaty and laboring but still composed.
He closed as he started: alone, and strong. For one day in the Bronx, it was an Indian summer, and Edward Cheserek was king.