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 "The Tired Boston Marathon - Another Magnificent Display..." 
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Post "The Tired Boston Marathon - Another Magnificent Display..."
The Tired Boston Marathon - Another Magnificent Display of African Runners with Difficult Names
by: Ed Bagley

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

There is no great resurgence of interest in distance running as the recent 114th Boston Marathon proved once again. The national press did not fall asleep watching the event, they virtually failed to tune in at all.

Broadcasters could have been shaking with their microphones as the last names of these 13 African athletes were among the Top 25 male finishers—Cheruiyot, Kebede, Merga, Asfaw, Komen, Kipkosgei, Nyasango, Keitany, Kiogora, Dechase, Koskei, Yegon and Chesang. That's 8 Kenyans, 4 Ethiopians and 1 Zimbabwean.

Talk about a list of household names that Madison Avenue marketers could use to sell products and services to the American public. It's enough to leave you shaking your head. Major corporations are not going to sponsor track and field or distance running.

Track and field in America, and distance running in particular, is dead until some aspiring, native-born Americans decide to become the lead sled dog in the pack.

The only American in the Top 25 that you could hope to promote would be Ryan Hall, who finished 4th (in 2:08.41) to the winner, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, who set the course record with a time of 2:05.52. Meb Keflezighi, a naturalized citizen who came to America when he was 12 in 1987, finished 5th behind Hall in 2:09.26.

The winner was the second Robert K. Cheruiyot to win the Boston Marathon. His namesake, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (no relation), won 4 times in recent years—2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The Boston Marathon started in 1897 and it would be 92 years before the first African, Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya, would win in 1988. In the last 23 years, Kenyans have won 18 of 23 years with one 10-year consecutive stretch; Ethiopians have won 3 of 23 years; and both an Italian and a South Korean won once.

Imagine, Africans have won 21 of the last 23 Boston Marathons (91%). Kenya is a country with 40 million people; the United States currently has 309 million people. In other words, the United States has more than 7 times the population of Kenya and cannot win one stinking race while Kenyans have won 18 of 23 times.

This should give you some clue to the lack of expertise in American coaching.

The last American to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer in 1983, 27 years ago.

And it is no better with the women. An African woman did not win until Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia in 1997. In the last 14 years, Kenyans have won 7 times, Ethiopians 5 times and Russians twice. So African women have won 12 of the last 14 years (85%).

The last American woman to win was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985, 25 years ago.

Between the men and women during this survey period (23 years for the men and 14 for the women), Africans have won 33 of 37 races (89%).

Please understand that this has nothing to do with African runners being physically superior to runners from any other country in the world. It has everything to do with African runners being better prepared to win.

Ryan Hall is an excellent example. Hall has been America's hope for a natural-born native to win the Boston Marathon. He is arguably our most consistent marathon competitor. He holds the U. S. record for the half-marathon (13+ miles) in 59:43, the only American to ever break an hour for the distance.

Hall won the 2008 Olympic trials, and finished 10th in Beijing in 2:12.33. He was 3rd in the 2009 Boston Marathon and 4th this year. He ran his fastest marathon (2:06.17) in London, finishing 5th.

Here is the real issue for Hall and virtually every other American runner who hopes to one day win the Boston Marathon. When you examine Hall's times against the winner's times at the same checkpoints, this is what you find:

At the 5K mark, Hall was 1 second behind Cheruiyot (try something close to Cherry-ott). At 10K, Hall was 1 second ahead. At 15K, Hall was 11 seconds behind. At 20K, Hall was 1 second behind (he ran 12 seconds faster during his fourth 5K). At the halfway point, they were both dead even at 1:03.27.

At the 25K, Hall was 16 seconds behind. At the 30K, Hall was 57 seconds behind. At 35K, Hall was 51 seconds behind. At 40K, Hall was 2 minutes and 37 seconds behind and out of contention. On his 8th 5K, Hall began to tire and could not match Cheruiyot's pace. Cheruiyot would end the race at a 4:48 mile pace; Hall averaged 4:55 a mile, which is excellent, but not excellent enough to win.

To win in the future, Hall needs to increase his base training intensity enough to raise his aerobic threshold level to equal and exceed Cheruiyot's level. Here is some good news: Cheruiyot's best half-marathon is 1:02.22; Hall's is 59:43.

To wit: Robert Cheruiyot is simply still stronger later in the marathon. Ryan Hall could be even stronger if he will stay the course and train to raise his aerobic threshold level even higher.

For the record, 23,127 runners started this year's Boston Marathon and 22,672 finished (98%). That's an outstanding statistic, but happens because the Boston race has a qualifying time—runners who are not in shape are not allowed to run.

Trust me when I say this: Every one of those 23,127 starters had the will to win, but less than 5 of them had the will to prepare to win. Preparation is everything that will is not. Having the will to win is a want, but preparing to win is a need. Robert Cheruiyot needed to win, and did.

About The Author
Ed Bagley's Articles is Writer, Author and Editor Ed Bagley's personal web site with hundreds of original articles on 46 different subjects. Ed Bagley's Articles is a treasure trove of feel good stories, satire, insight, and frank commentary on our life and times in America. Find Ed Bagley's Articles at:
The author invites you to visit:

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[Note: Due to a size limitation, the title, above, had to be abbreviated. Apologies to the author and - Admin]
This article was posted by permission.

Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:54 pm
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