The separation between the sport of foot-racing and the experience of a closed-road “happening”, all under the rubric of Road Racing, has become so profound –
A friend forwarded this YouTube video to me today.
Flash mob at the 2012 Peachtree Road Race
Though many of these people are wearing official bib numbers, when is it time to declare this something other than road racing?
What running has transformed into over these last years – well, you fill in the definition. I, for one, would just like to see the schism made complete with people’s events and elite competitions going their separate ways. The connection between the two has long since been broken. And as we continue to see in the fewer and fewer race coverages on TV around the country, the charity fund-raising, costume wearing, and celebrity sightings continue to draw more and more of the focus. Not that the pros don’t have themselves to blame for much of that transfer, but that’s another column for another day.
All I’m suggesting is giving the professional sport its due without having Suzy the news anchor go all goose-pimply as the Richard Simmons brigade toddles by sweatin’ to the Oldies at 17:00 – 20:00 per mile pace. Not that I don’t want the brigade to get out there. But make that a separate day’s treat, OK, not an intrusion on my sport. Thank you. (Nothing personal)
Mutai over Kimetto in Berlin
The internet, Facebook and Twitter are thrumming this morning with questions and opinions about the finish of the 39th BMW Berlin Marathon last Sunday. With the world record leaking away in the final few kilometers, Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai found countryman, training partner, and debuting marathoner Dennis Kimetto still locked to his stride. Their breakaway 5 kilometer split of 14:18 from 30 to 35K was now coming home to roost. Mutai’s stomach was cramping, and he – and Kimetto – had nothing left in the tank as the clock ticked menacingly away from the glory he had hoped to attain. But still there was a race to be won, record notwithstanding.
But no race came to pass. Instead the final few hundred meters resembled the finish of a daily recovery run, simply an apprentice ushering his mentor to the line as any proper wing man would.
As the race ended, the controversy began. If anyone but one of his stable mates had been on his shoulder, wouldn’t Mutai have felt worried? Desperate? Vulnerable? Wouldn’t he have tried to muster whatever last vestiges of energy he had to squeeze out a final kick of some sort to hold on to victory? Wouldn’t the other man have done the same?
Perhaps in a perfect world, yes, but neither man did in Berlin, leading pundits and fans alike to question the veracity of the outcome, especially since Mutai had sealed the deal on the $500,000 bonus for winning the 2011-2012 World Marathon Majors series title with the Berlin win added to those in Boston and New York City from 2011.
This morning I received the following message from Mutai and Kimetto’s manager, Gerard Van de Veen of Volare Sports:
To be very clear: there was no ‘deal’ between Geoffrey and Dennis!!! Yes, the pacemakers were very disturbed by getting wrong information.
After the race we found out that a faulty timing clock atop the lead pace vehicle had led the leaders to believe the pace they were running was under their halfway goal time of 61:40. Only when they hit the halfway mark 32-second slower than intended to did they realize the error. But ramping up the pace in the second half eventually took its toll in the final few kilometers, which is where Mutai and Kimetto faded off the record.
As to the ethics of two men not fighting for the win in a major marathon, we have many similar circumstances, from Berlin 2003 with Paul Tergat and training partner Sammy Korir, to Boston 2007 with Robert Cheruiyot and his training mate James Kwambai. But here’s another from way back when I first got into the marathon broadcasting game. Continue reading