The World Championship and Olympic Marathons are different breeds than the annual major city marathons.  Weather is often the overriding factor, usually for the worst, as the summer heat and potential humidity call for a different approach to both preparation and racing. Secondly, without pacers the emphasis is completely on place rather than time, often making for a more intriquing competition. And thirdly, due to the disparity in potential payoffs compared to the fall marathons, and the looming Olympic Trials process, the World Championship Marathon is often not quite on par with its track event cousins.

Again in 2011 several of the foremost marathoners in the world, mostly on the men’s side, are not participating in the World Champs in order to maintain their six-figure appearance fees in the fall.  Therefore, if the IAAF is serious about being part of the World Marathon Majors circuit, they will have to come to terms with their $60,000, $30,000, $15,000, $10,000, $6000, $5000, $4000 purse structure. World Cup team money is an additional 1st $20,000; 2nd $15,000; 3rd $12,000; 4th $10,000; 5th $8000; 6th $6000.

While those figures might be acceptable to track and field athletes who can continue competing on the Samsung Diamond League Tour following Daegu, the purses (and corresponding lack of appearance fees) become a financial disincentive for the crème of the marathon crop whose opportunities are limited.

In the women’s marathon, scheduled for Saturday morning at 9 a.m. local time -Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific in the U.S. – the two top performers of 2011, Mary Keitany of Kenya (2:19:19, 1st in London) and Liliya Shobukhova of Russia (2:20:15, 2nd in London) will not toe the line.  The American team, as well, is missing the top ranks of their marathon potential with Desi Davila opting out of Daegu altogether (she gave up her 5000m slot to Lauren Fleshman), while Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher will compete Saturday night in the 10,000 meters, as all three back-time their marathon peak for the Houston Olympic Trials in January 2012. Continue reading