Month: April 2012


     Well, the word has come down from on high, and a little earlier than expected at that.  Originally scheduled to be announced April 30th, today at a packed news conference in Naiobi, Athletics Kenya named their highly anticipated Olympic Marathon squads.

Men: Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Moses Mosop

Women: Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo

“We have selected the athletes based on their individual performances after the major Marathon races they have participated in this season with a lot of emphasis on experience,” AK President Isaiah Kiplagat told the gathering.

The women’s selection held no surprises, top three at London, all of whom have performed well in recent performances before that, including reigning World Champion Edna Kiplagat and silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo. Two-time London champion Mary Keitany is, of course, the lioness herself.

The only other candidate with claim might have been Boston champ Sharon Cherop, the bronze medal winner in Daegu. But even her own team knew her Olympic chance came and went in Dubai in January where, though she ran a PR 2:22:39, it only harvested seventh place.  Regardless of her win in Boston, AK was not going to put someone on the team whose third marathon of the year would be the Olympic Marathon.

Men’s team was always the more intriguing selection.  But of the six provisional picks, only Wilson Kipsang performed at his best this spring, winning London handily.

M. Mosop 2:05:02 – 3rd, Rotterdam
G. Mutai DNF, Boston
W.Kipsang 2:04:44 – 1st, London
A. Kirui 2:07:56 – 6th, London
E. Mutai 2:08:01 – 7th, London
P. Makau DNF, London



Max Siegel, new USATF CEO

In a move that comes as no surprise, USA Track & Field announced today that its board of directors has selected 47 year-old Indianapolis native Max Siegel, a marketing executive with ties to the sports and music industries – and former USATF board member  – to serve as its new CEO.  USATF has been operating without a full-time CEO since the board dismissed Doug Logan in September 2010 after a rocky two years at the helm.  Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees had been serving as interim CEO.

Mr. Siegel becomes the fourth chief executive in the organization’s history following Ollan Cassell (1980-1996), Craig Masback (1997-2008), and Doug Logan (2008-2010). He will assume his duties on May 1st under a two-year contract reportedly valued at $500,000 per year with performance bonuses.

Since USATF announced last month that it intended to hire a new CEO before the June track & field trials in Eugene, Oregon – thus ending a protracted 16-month interregnum – many long-time observers of the sport surmised the selection would come from within the USATF family. And since Mr. Siegel had been a USATF board member (2009-2011) whose firm was hired last October to oversee the USATF marketing effort going into the summer Olympics, he was widely expected to be named to the CEO position. (more…)


Kipsang London Bound

The turnover at the top-end of Kenyan marathon running is as remarkable as it is swift.  With so many lean and hungry athletes preparing and dreaming back home, the kings of one year are quickly deposed by the predatory scions of speed coming up from behind the next.

This year’s Kenyan Olympic selection season – comprised of the Rotterdam, Boston, and London Marathons – is testimony to that reality, and another cause for head-scratching, both for the Kenyan Olympic selectors, and for the sport as it tries, in vain, to build personalities to market to its shrinking fan base.

Today, two-time Frankfurt Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang sealed his Olympic selection with a dominate win in London, 2:04:44, just four-seconds off last year’s course record, but clear of second place by a gaping two minutes and seven seconds, the largest margin of victory in London in 30 years.

The three other provisional  Kenyan Olympians battling in London, two-time World Champion Abel Kirui, defending London champion Emmanuel Mutai, and world record holder Patrick Makau all came up well short of their expectations and hopes as non-provisional Kenyan Martin Lel took second over 2010 champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia in a kick 2:06:51 to 2:06:52.

We witnessed similar disappointments in Rotterdam and Boston.  First, Moses Mosop, last year’s Chicago Marathon record setter and Boston runner-up, could do no better than third in Rotterdam (2:05:02) behind two relatively unheralded Ethiopians, Yemane Adhane (2:04:47) and Getu Fekele (2:04:50).  Then 2011 Boston and New York City master of disaster Geoffrey Mutai wilted in the heat of Boston, dropping out after 20 miles.  Though, how much the heat and missing a drink at 25k in Boston caused his demise is something the Athletics Kenya Olympic selectors will have to determine now that all but one of their six provisional Olympians failed to deliver when the chips were down and the stakes were high.

“(Geoffrey) Mutai is more complicated,” said Kenyan-based Italian coach Gabriele Nicola after watching Boston last week.  “You don’t cancel last year. If Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Makau, or Emmanuel Mutai runs 2:04:15, then select them. If not…”

But only Kipsang managed a sub-2:05 in London.  Two-time IAAF World Champion Abel Kirui ran bravely, challenging Kipsang’s mid-race charge, but faded to sixth (2:07:56).  Defending London champion Emmanuel Mutai arrived right behind in seventh (2:08:01), and world record holder Patrick Makau dropped out before 20km.

As of today, Kipsang leads the Kenyan troops on the world marathon list, though still behind Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero’s 2:04:23 from January’s Dubai Marathon.  Following Kipsang are Jonathon Maiyo (2:04:56 – 4th, Dubai), Mosop ( 2:05:02 – 3rd, Rotterdam), Stanley Biwott (2:05:12 – 1st, Paris), and Wilson Ekupe (2:05:37 – 1st, Seoul).   Ekupe is the perfect example of the sudden change at the top of Kenyan standings one year to the next.  Seoul this March was his first foreign race ever!

Now what? 

Geoffrey Mutai’s Dutch manager Gerard van de Veen told me that Wilson Kipsang called Geoffrey a month ago, and suggested they train together through their final cycles leading to Boston and London.

“So Kipsang came for two or three weeks to do long runs and speed work with Mutai.  For both the goal is the Olympics.”

Here were the first and third fastest men in history willing to expose themselves to a rival in order to better their chances to make the Olympic team.  Certainly worked for Kipsang, and who knows for Mutai?  The whole Kenyan selection now is all up in the air. Kind of suggests a single Trials method next time, wouldn’t you say?



Boston Heat     Race directors are notoriously competitive with one another, yet just as quick to lend a helping hand in times of trouble.  So when the conditions for Monday’s 116th Boston Marathon became fixed at red-flag levels by meteorologists, race directors on hand willingly stepped up to offer assistance in any way they could.  Chicago Marathon director Carey Pinkowski was especially forthcoming, having gone through a similar hot weather nightmare of his own in 2007 when he had to actually close the Chicago course after three hours when temperatures rose to dangerous levels, and medical contingencies, he feared, would be inadequate to handle the surge of potential patients.

In Boston this week, Pinkowski offered to fly in any extra equipment from Chicago that the Boston Athletic Association might need to address the severe weather ahead.

“That is true,” confirmed Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray.  “We didn’t end up needing it, but they were VERY GRACIOUS to offer.  We are all in this thing together.”

With ambient air temperatures actually higher in Boston 2004 than last Monday, there seemed to be something of a disconnect between the faster finishing times in `04, when the race was still staged at noon versus  Monday’s lower temperatures with its 10 a.m. start.

The key difference was clouds versus sun.  In 2004 the 83F starting temp in Hopkinton, Mass. was ameliorated to some degree by a high overcast. Monday’s 70F start temp was exacerbated by a bright yellow sun and open blue skies.  With cloudless conditions, the ground temperatures soared well into the 90s.  In fact, many of the pro runners complained that their special fluids and the regular water stops had warmed up considerably by the time they reached them.

Mutai, Boston 2012

Defending champion Geoffrey Mutai’s demise began when he missed his own fluid bottle at 25K and substituted a warm Gatorade drink in its place.  With the unfamiliar liquid sloshing around in his gut, he experienced stomach problems just as he was answering the surge of Matthew Kisorio and Levy Matebo as they began the push which separated them and Mutai from the pack.

By 30k Geoffrey was on the side of the road throwing up.  2011 had all gone so flawlessly for Mutai – wins and course records in Boston and NYC – perhaps we should have expected the marathon gods to exact a little pay-back in 2012. (more…)


     The prospect of high heat and motivated marathoners has prompted the Boston Athletic Association to offer their 26,700 starters a chance to defer running till next year’s marathon.

“Knowing that people who are here will run, we just wanted to reinforce that it will be very warm,” said BAA media man Jack Fleming. “This will allow them to defer till next year when they pick up their race number.”

Accordingly, the BAA issued the following statement to its entrants.

Due to the unusually warm weather forecast for the Boston area on Monday, the B.A.A. will defer the entry of those official entrants to the 2013 Boston Marathon for participants who decide not to race.

This applies to official entrants only who either have claimed or will claim their bib number packet at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo through Sunday evening at the Seaport World Trade Center in South Boston. Runners must claim their bib number for deferment to be an option.

In order to receive a deferment for 2013, race participants may not start the race. No refund for the 2012 entry will be given.  All entry fees for 2013 must be paid.

In addition, the B.A.A. will keep the finish systems open an additional hour on race day until approximately 6:00 p.m. (more…)



If in real estate it’s location, location, location, in marathon running it’s weather, weather weather.  People are eyeballing the weather stations like tornado chasers for this Monday’s 116th Boston Marathon. With this being an Olympic year, and decisions on Olympic qualifying still up for grabs in Kenya and Ethiopia, the two preeminent marathon nations of the world, much will be decided from April 15th in Rotterdam to April 22nd in London.  And as Sean Hartnett of Track & Field News just reminded me, “the weather at all the majors was pretty perfect last year.”

Here in Boston, though, there’s been a pattern of a good weather year being followed by a real stinker – think 1975 Bill Rodgers American record, 1976 Jack Fultz “Run for the Hoses” 100 degrees.  Not a good sign for Monday where, at present, the forecasters are calling for a high of 84F / 29C.  If it comes up snake-eyes like that, pity the Geoffrey Mutai and Gebre Gebremariams in the field who know they need to impress their Olympic selectors to punch their ticket on to London for the Games this summer.

Without a single trials race to select their teams, the two east African federations will await the results of Rotterdam, Boston, and London Marathons from April 15th to the 22nd before making the calls.  Right now there are six provisional men on the Kenyan squad, and four for the Ethiopians, all of who were the top four finishers in the Dubai Marathon in January.

“People back home in Ethiopia are calling them “The Sitting Ducks”, joked Global Athletics president Mark Wetmore who represents 2011 Boston third placer Gebre Gebremariam.  “At first they said five would be named, then four. That’s why GG is here. Essentially, the Ethiopian federation said, the Ethiopian Olympic Trials will be in Dubai.  But they didn’t tell the athletes till a week after Dubai.”

As we’ve laid out before on this blog Anticipating Spring Marathon Season, the stakes at the top spring marathons in Rotterdam, Boston, and London are sky high.  Last year’s Boston runner up and Chicago champion Moses Mosop goes first on Sunday in Rotterdam.  Word around town is that it will take a world record for a Rotterdamer to make the London bus.  Mosop will be pressed by two very scary Kenyan debutants who have done serious damage in the half-marathon, Sammy Kitwara and Peter Kirui.  Then on Monday Geoffrey Mutai defends his best-ever 2:03:02 from last year here in Boston. I asked him today if there was a difference in coming in as the favorite this year with all the pressure as opposed to last year when he was just another one of the top guys. (more…)


2012 KTLA LA Marathon coverage featuring Pegasus Sports Performance sensor technology.  At the Boston Marathon Dick Hoyt will wear Pegasus sensors as he and son Rick compete in their 30th Boston…A group of runners from Tufts University President’s Marathon Challenge will also be wearing the kit.  You can follow the Hoyts and Tufts runners progress next Monday at  Password for LA video below is    psprun.