Ngong, Kenya – With fewer electronic pursuits available in rural Africa, time is spent more in the age-old give and take of robust conversation, where, whether the topic is sports, politics, or society at large, the time is filled in spirited debate.
Today, having flown back to Nairobi last night from a rainy and chilly Eldoret, we began this morning at breakfast wondering about the ominous forecast for this Saturday’s Kenyan Olympic Trials at Nyayo Stadium downtown.
Right now the sun remains well blanketed by a deep layer of clouds while temperatures remain down right frigid (for Kenya, mind you. This isn’t Enterprise Falls in January by any stretch). The long-range forecast for Saturday’s Trials call for temps between 14-16C with overcast skies and perhaps as much as 8mm of rain – check for the Fahrenheit and inches equivalency at your leisure, makes for an instructive and interactive blog reading experience.
With such weather conditions, any athlete with a slight injury could face unexpected problems. One such athlete that comes to mind is Vivian Cheruiyot who won the Kenyan women’s 10,000-meter Trials last Friday at Kasarani Stadium. Saturday she hopes to double in the 5000. Last week Vivian complained of a small ankle injury, but then closed the final 400 meters of the 10,000m in 60-flat to secure her position on the team.
Such vagaries of weather and Trials’ timing are the wildcards which cannot be forecast. Since the Kenyan Trials’ system calls for two automatic qualifiers and the third position added by selection, one would assume, all things being equal, that the 2011 double World Champion would have a foot up even if the weather produced a result below par. Hopefully, the sun will emerge and let the true talent decide the selection.
Another topic which necessitated a second pot of coffee this morning at the Margarita Hotel was the question of whether time being pushed too much these days in the marathon at the risk of great competition?
There are only so many men capable of running 2:03 or 2:04 in the marathon. That much we know. On top of, it now requires a pacer capable of breaking the world record at 30K just to put those few men in position to assault such times over the entire 42.2k distance.
In 2011, Peter Kirui paced both Patrick Makau’s 2:03:38 at Berlin, and one month later, Wilson Kipsang’s 2:03:42 in Frankfurt. Only because he dropped out in Berlin was Kirui not rewarded with the 30K world road record. He, in fact, led Makau past the mark in Berlin, then continued to the finish in Frankfurt after pulling Kipsang through 30k in near-world record splits.
At the same time, men who are capable of attempting a marathon world record do not relish the challenge of another top guy in the same race. It requires a completely different mindset to attempt a world record as opposed to racing for a victory. That Patrick Makau managed both last fall in Berlin against former record holder Haile Gebrselassie is the exception, not the rule. Continue reading