Ridouane Harroufi has perfected his strategy for the Bolder Boulder.
The Moroccan burst ahead on the downhill leading to the finish line at Folsom Field to deny an Ethiopian victory in the 10-kilometer Bolder Boulder for the second straight year Monday.
Harroufi, who passed Solomon Tsige to win last year's race, stayed with Dmessew Tsega and Gebo Berka on their torrid pace through a steady drizzle until they approached the stadium, then sprinted past the Ethiopians for a winning time of 28 minutes, 32 seconds, one second ahead of Tsega and five ahead of Berka.
U.S. Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall finished in 14th at 30:07, a mark he called a good start to his hard training for Beijing.
Fellow Olympian and former Bolder Boulder three-time champion Deena Kastor finished seventh in the elite women's field, where Kenya's Millicent Gathoni posted a winning time of 32:49, four seconds ahead of Ethiopian Amane Gobena, who was also the runner-up a year ago.
Romania's Luminita Talpos was third at 33:22.
Edna Kiplagat of Kenya didn't return to defend her title because she's pregnant, and Gobena couldn't capitalize on her absence.
''She tried several times to break away from me on the hills. She couldn't get away. That's when I knew I'd beat her,'' Gathoni said. ''I waited for the last hill, the last mile. And when I saw she didn't have a kick, I showed her mine.''
It wasn't Gobena, however, that fueled her.
''I ran out of fear of Deena Kastor,'' Gathoni said. ''I was afraid of Deena Kastor. I kept thinking she would come back at me, but she never came.''
Like Hall, Kastor won the marathon at the U.S. Olympic trials, and she was the favorite here. She said the first kilometer was slower than she had expected, however, and being in marathon mode, she was unable to pick up the pace when the leaders broke free.
''Ryan and I are both coming off of taking a couple weeks off and just getting our legs under us right now,'' Kastor said. ''I think we really both just wanted to be a part of this race.''
Harroufi is the race's first repeat champion since Kenya's Thomas Osano in 1991-92.
''I sensed (Berka) would try to push hard from the last hill in, but I pushed harder,'' Harroufi said. ''I knew he would be tired. I knew it because he pushed from the start. He ran the race like it was a 5K or 6K race, but this was a longer race.''
Ethiopia won the men's team title and a $15,000 prize thanks to the pace set by Tsega and Berka, but that fast start cost them a shot at the individual title.
Romania won the women's team title. The Americans took seventh in both the men's and women's standings.
With cool temperatures and overcast skies, these race was made for speed, and Harroufi posted the third-fastest winning time in the 30-year history of the men's Memorial Day race in claiming a $4,500 prize. Gathoni posted the fourth-fastest winning time in the women's division.
''It was really perfect running conditions, not great for barbecues later today but perfect to run in,'' said Kastor, who posted a time of 33:44.
This was Hall's first race since his fifth-place finish at the London Marathon on April 12, where he turned in a personal-best time of 2:06.17.
''I did the best I could and that's where I am right now,'' Hall said. ''I ran in London seven weeks ago, so you guys can't expect me to come out and blaze the 10k. ... If I'm running a super good 10K right now, that means I'm going to be flat come Beijing.''
Hall predicted ''one year I'm going to come back here and really rock it.''
''I can run really fast at altitude,'' he said. ''That type of pace, I was doing that two weeks before London like a breeze. So, I could nail it up here if I'm ready to go.''
This year, he saw the Bolder Boulder as the starting gun to his three-month push to the Summer Games.
''This is a great starting point for me,'' Hall said. ''I'm going to put in some good, hard work and I'll be ready to go in Beijing.''
Unlike Hall and Kastor, neither of the day's winners has secured a spot in Beijing.
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