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…)