The 2015 TCS New York City Marathon produced an outcome that satisfied logic. It was a race and a result you could believe. And thank God for that.
Despite overcast skies and a steady southerly tailwind past 20 miles, the men’s splits essentially mirrored those of 2014 when the runners were confronted with a cold, brisk 20 mph headwind. Even up First Avenue, Thunder Alley, between 16 & 19 miles where the crowds are so thick and boisterous that splits free wheel in the low to mid-4:30s, this year saw one 4:49 and a 5:03. Instead of a string behind a scalded leader, we had eight men abreast at a rocking chair pace.
So what was the difference? Well, there was that little competition in late August in Beijing, China, the IAAF World Championships, where four of New York’s top guys represented their countries in the marathon. Yes, big-time marathoning takes a lot of preparation, and even then history suggests that repeating is way more difficult now than it once was when Bill Rodgers reeled off four straight New York wins from 1976-1979, or Alberto Salazar followed with a three-peat from 1980-`82. The last man to win back-to-back years in NYC was Kenya’s John Kagwe in 1997-`98.
So the fact that the one A-list guy in Sunday’s field who didn’t run the World Championships Marathon, Stanley Biwott, the one guy who came in with a full tank of gas from training went on to win the race, and the second least compromised contender took runner-up honors in the person of World Championships 10,000 meter silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor, actually made all the sense in the world.
Imagine how would it have looked if one of the World Championship marathoners — Kipsang, Tsegay, Desisa or Meucci — had doubled back and won in a quick time? In this new age of guilt that would have certainly raised another red flag, not exactly what the sport needs after the damage from the flood of drug positives in recent times has all but drowned the sports’ image. Continue reading
New York, New York — Every marathon is a universe of one, particular to itself and its time. Yet in New York City 2015 the after effects of the IAAF World Championships Marathon still linger. Because so many of New York’s top male contenders raced for their countries in the heat and humidity of Beijing at the end of August, they had to reduce their recovery time while compressing their training for New York.
As a consequence each has a fuel tank perhaps a little under filled, which may lead to a less than aggressive first half to two-thirds of the 45th TCS New York City Marathon. That means the real fireworks of speed may be left to the latter stages in Central Park. And wouldn’t that make for an exciting day for all who live for such moments of gut-clenching glory? Continue reading
San Diego, CA. — Even as the world celebrates the pinnacle of the art form in Beijing at the 15th IAAF World Track & Field Championships, we are reminded that each and every one of the athletes representing their nation’s colors in China began their journey on an anonymous oval where the top prize arrived upon the smile of Mom or a “Well done” from Dad, and where personal goals created podiums of pride long before the world at large ever took notice.
Last night those smiles, “well dones” and personal satisfactions returned to the old U.S. Navy Base San Diego track for the first time in more than a generation as USATF San Diego long distance chairman Paul Greer and his merry band of tracksters organized the first competitive track and field meeting in 35 years at the home port of the Pacific Fleet. Continue reading
18th Suja Rock `n` Roll San Diego
San Diego, CA. — A minor controversy attended Meb Keflezighi’s introduction to the master’s category today at the 18th Suja Rock `n Roll Marathon & Half-Marathon. Though Meb won the USATF Master’s Half-Marathon championship, and established two U.S. road records along the way, he was out-kicked in the final 100 meters by 27 year-old Zambian native Jordan Chipangama who trains out of Flagstaff, Arizona, 62:27 to 62:29.
The controversy centered on Chipangama, who was brought in to pace the efforts of Matt Llano (4th), Shadrack Biwott (3rd) and Josphat Boit (6th), all clients of manager Josh Cox. Meb, however, was not privvy to Chipangama’s role as pacer, and raced as if the Northern Arizona University grad was a regular competitor.
After breaking away from the small pack at two miles and building as much as a 12-second advantage through eight, Meb got caught between miles 9 and 10, and then lost to Chipangama in the final sprint. Continue reading
Master Meb hanging with young fans
It happens fast. One day it’s “Hey, kid!” Next thing you know it’s “Hey, buddy!” Then one unsuspecting day it’s “Excuse me, Sir. Can I get a picture?”
There aren’t many athletes in any sport who can say, “I couldn’t have done it any better. I left nothing on the table.” U.S. distance runner Meb Keflezighi is among the small cadre who can.
With his 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medal, wins at the 2009 New York City and 2014 Boston Marathons — and more American road, cross country and track titles than he has fingers and toes — Meb enters the over-40 master’s division in perfect harmony, neither pressing or stressing, yet still pushing ahead for more.
This Sunday Meb — Sir, in the above request — will compete in his hometown at the Rock `n` Roll Half Marathon in San Diego, part of the weekend long Suja Rock `n` Roll Marathon & Half-Marathon, the birthing event of the Rock `n` Roll series, which has now spread world-wide. It will mark Meb’s debut in the master’s division having turned 40 on the 5th of May.
Appropriately, Sunday’s half marathon doubles as the USATF National Masters Championship, the first national title designation RnR San Diego has garnered in its 18 year history. Continue reading
As Tom Brady waits to appeal a four-game suspension for his part in the NFL’s Deflate-Gate scandal, and Milwaukee Brewer’s pitcher Will Smith gets tossed for having a foreign substance on his forearm, I’m reminded of a gentler time when a young boy dreams big, then goes out does what needs to be done.
As the school year neared completion, Henry lived for Field Day, that sporting carnival where prize ribbons were up for grabs, and the atmosphere filled the air around the school grounds with the smells of burgers and hot dogs sizzling on over-sized grilles.
Notwithstanding “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another,” (Shakespeare) grade school is often where identities are formed. If you were considered X in grade school: smart–dumb, fast–slow, fat–skinny, good lookin’ or otherwise, the designation tended to stick.
In grade school Henry was considered skinny, smart and quick, traits he used against school bullies.
“Forget about him,” they’d huff, “he’s too hard to catch.”
Thank God. Continue reading