This recap was taped right after the race, and before we learned that the clock atop the lead pace vehicle had frozen early in the race indicating 2:50/Km pace, thus misleading the lead pack into believing they were running under world record pace through half-way, when in fact they were 32-seconds behind their intended pace.
With the world record being as significant as it is at 2:03:38 – set by Kenya’s Patrick Makua last year in Berlin – the chance to better that mark without ideal pacing was a step too far for Geoffrey Mutai, who, according to sources in Kenya, was near, but not at, the top of his form. That he and training mate Dennis Kimetto were still able to run the fourth and fifth fastest times in history despite that error in pacing is a testament to their fighting spirit.
Today, I learned from my friend Ed Caesar, a British writer who lives in Iten, Kenya while researching a book on the two-hour marathon, that the marathon world record attempt yesterday in Berlin by Geoffrey Mutai might have been (partially) scuttled by a faulty timing clock atop the pace vehicle.
Ed was in Berlin and spoke with Geoffrey after the race in which Mutai missed the world record by 34-seconds with his 2:04:15 finish, one second in front of his training partner Dennis Kimetto. Mutai told Ed that the clock atop the elite athlete pace vehicle froze on 2:50/kilometer read-out early in the race, thus giving the athletes the impression they were well under their intended 61:40 first half pace, which averages out to 2:55.8/km. Afraid that the pace they were on was too hot, Mutai and the boys cooled their heels, only to learn at the half-way mats that their time was actually 62:12, 32-seconds slower than intended.
“He thought he was coasting to a 61-minute first half,” Ed told me from Aberdeen, Scotland where he is visiting family. “Once they saw the mistake, they panicked and ran the next kilometers too quickly.” (more…)
Geoffrey Mutai’s one-second win at Sunday’s BMW Berlin Marathon all but sewed up the 2011-2012 World Marathon Majors series title for the 31 year-old Kenyan star, and the $500,000 bonus that attends it. With wins in Boston and New York City in 2011, Mutai added 25 more points for his 2:04:15 win over fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in Berlin, giving him 75 WMM points over the course of the two-year cycle. The WMM title and bonus are Mutai’s unless another Kenyan, 2011 Chicago runner-up and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir ( 40 points) can manage the unlikely double of winning this weekend’s BofA Chicago Marathon (25 pts), and then turn around and finish no worse than third in New York City November 4th (10 pts). That would tie Korir with Mutai at 75 points, but earn Korir the series title in a tie-breaker, as he bested Mutai head-to-head in the sweltering heat of Boston 2012 where Mutai dropped out.
Needless to say, that scenario is highly improbable.
But Mutai only won Berlin by a scant second over his training partner Dennis Kimetto. And this is where things get dicey. On paper a one-second margin would suggest a titanic final meters drama to decide the issue –
think Mo Farah’s double Olympic distance wins in London where the mask of anxiety and exhilaration warped his features as he held victory so close.
Instead, debuting marathoner Kimetto sat on Mutai’s left shoulder throughout the final two kilometers in Berlin acting more like a wing-man than a competitor. Mutai, we found out afterwards, was done in after 35 kilometers by a sour stomach leaving him unable to drive or push, and seemingly leaving him vulnerable to any sort of challenge. Yet none was forthcoming.
Immediately, one concluded that the apprentice, Kimetto, was not going to beat his mentor, Mutai, and thus deprive him of the $500k World Marathon Majors bonus. If Kimetto had won, it’s not like he would have earned the half-million dollar bonus. Rather, it would only have increased Wesley Korir’s chances, as a second place by Mutai in Berlin would have meant that Korir would only need a win in Chicago to supplant Mutai as the series winner. As my friend Ed Caesar – who is writing a book on the two-hour marathon while living in Iten, Kenya – said: “(If Kimetto had won) everyone in the small village where Mutai and Kimetto live (Kapn’gtuny) would have lost.”
This is the second time in the World Marathon Majors series history that a training partner has seemed to back off in the final stretch to allow his compatriot to win and collect the series bonus. In 2007, Robert Cheruiyot was on his way to his third of four Boston Marathon titles. But in the final two kilometers his training partner James Kwambai was still at his shoulder. As the two men headed into Kenmore Square with one mile to go, Kwambai peeled off to grab water while Cheruiyot didn’t. Then, in seemingly leisurely fashion, Kwambai stayed behind his mate all the way to the Boylston Street, finishing 20-seconds back. No attempt was made to close the gap even though Kwambai seemed unfazed by effort or pain.
Now we’ve seen a similar circumstance in Berlin. (more…)