WESLEY KORIR – NOT YOUR AVERAGE KENYAN MARATHONER

2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir

2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir

New York, New York –In the oven-like heat of the 2012 Boston Marathon eventual champion Wesley Korir found himself way off the pace just hoping to survive as the race passed through the infamous hills of Newton.   But using his head as much as his legs he did more than survive; the University of Louisville grad from Kenya ran down every over eager competitor to win the biggest race of his life. Then, kneeling in stunned disbelief at the finish line, he pondered the improbability of it all.

“I asked the volunteer to pinch me,” Wesley recalled. “Did I really win the Boston Marathon?”

Improbable is an apt word for 30 year-old Korir, maybe even unique. In the world of elite Kenyan running there isn’t anyone remotely like him.  For that matter, there’s nobody quite like him outside Kenya either.

While fellow New York City Marathon contenders like Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 champion and course record holder, was training monastically for Sunday’s 43rd ING New York City Marathon in Kapng’etuny, some 55 miles outside Eldoret, Kenya, Wesley Korir was making a weekly five hour commute by car (or 30 minutes by air flight) from Eldoret to the nation’s capital to take his place in the Kenyan parliament to fight for the elimination of poverty and to stamp out rampant government corruption.  Not your average Kenyan runner, to say the least. Continue reading

WORLD MARATHON MAJORS SHOWDOWN IN NYC

New York City Marathon start    There is even more on the line than usual at this year’s ING New York City Marathon.  From the city and New York Road Runner’s recovery efforts after last year devastation and race cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy, to the million-dollar payoff in the World Marathon Majors championship, there are stories of striving and overcoming that will make for a dramatic and emotional Sunday morning November 3rd.   Be sure to watch it live 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, and from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on WABC. It also will be streamed online at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. A two-hour highlights show will air on ABC later in the day.

My focus will be on the men’s race as I will call that competition from the lead TV moto.  It’s the first time since 2006 that I will be out on the course rather than at the finish line anchor location.  And though I will sorely miss calling what promises to be a compelling women’s race, the men’s lead moto is a wondrous perch, and offers by far the best view of the action.

Two story lines dominate the 2013 New York men’s competition.  The question is how, or whether, they will intersect? Continue reading

PERILOUS PEAK OF PERFECTION

     Runner’s World Newswire put out a story October 23rd by Peter GambacciniFormer Elite’s Advice for Ryan Hall – after Hall pulled out of the November 3rd ING New York City Marathon, the third straight major marathon Ryan had been signed to run but not been able to start.

The advice ranged from “…go back to Kenya and get into a group that most of the top guys are training in and give it more than a few months,” from fellow 2008 Olympic marathoner Brian Sell, to “…You should focus on breaking the 4:00 mile,” from 1972 Olympic 1500m bronze medalist and 1983 New York City Marathon champion Rod Dixon of New Zealand.

Everyone has advice and an opinion, a testament to the regard the industry has for Ryan, the man, and the hope it carries for his position in the sport.  But maybe the best advice would be for Ryan, or any other American, to discover a time machine and dial it back about 30 years when being number one from sea to shining sea could be the same as being number one in the world.  Today that connection has long since been broken. In fact, the gap between the two continues to spread with each passing season and each marathon run. Continue reading

BASEBALL IS LIKE THE MARATHON

Cardinals v Red Sox 2013    Baseball, in some ways, is like the marathon.  Both sports require the ability to endure a long, grueling task, be it months of training and 26.2 miles of racing, or months of a 162-game season, and the intensity of multiple championship series.  Both sports take from low two-hours to five-hours plus to complete, and taken in small doses or out of context, can seem incomparably boring. Yet when followed closely throughout a season or a race, the drama of each competition builds to Shakespearean levels, until every pitch, every foot strike takes on the weight of the world, and the glory of accomplishment — sometimes even in defeat — can resonate for a lifetime and beyond.

And so as the baseball season begins its annual fall ritual tonight in Boston with the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals taking on host American League king Boston Red Sox, we await the culminating event of the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors cycle on the first weekend of November at the ING New York City Marathon with equal anticipation.

This year’s Fall Classic promises to be a beauty, as the Cards and the Sox have proven their mettle — both teams completed their seasons with a record of 97 —  65.  Both have excellent pitching, powerful offenses, and legendary support from their iconic fan bases.  We can only hope to witness a level of drama at the ING New York City Marathon November 3rd that will approximate what is expected in Boston and St. Louis – America’s Best Baseball Town. Continue reading

Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. Adds American Development Program

Pittsburgh Three Rivers Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros

Pittsburgh Three Rivers Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros

In the past several years we have seen event organizers in several cities expand their portfolio of races in what can be seen as an ad hoc movement to bolster the sport’s shrinking profile on their city’s sporting landscape.  Even running’s national governing body, USATF, entered the arena with the scheduling of their first ever wholly-owned road race property, the .US National Road Racing Championships November 17 in Alexandria, Virginia.

That grassroots movement was offset and temporarily outshone this past Labor Day weekend when San Diego-based Competitor Group, Inc., owners of the mega Rock `n` Roll Series of marathons and half-marathons, quietly — and controversially — shifted much of its near $1 million elite athlete program to further focus on its participation model.  Today, catalyzed by the CGI decision, Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros announced an expansion of Pittsburgh’s elite athlete support for 2014 with the launch of The American Development Program. Continue reading

PICS FROM HAILE MARATHON

Haile Marathon logoThe inaugural Haile Gebrselassie Marathon was staged this past Sunday in Hawassa, Ethiopia.  The previous post on this blog site contained the race report — Shetema and Negede win inaugural Haile Marathon — but race organizer Rich Jayne, my old television producer from “Road Race of the Month”, sent the following pictures capturing the spirit of the day.

 

Continue reading

Shetema and Negede win inaugural Haile Marathon

Haile Marathon logoThe following is a news release written by Richard Nurerkar following the inaugural Haile Gebrselassie Marathon.
Hawassa, Ethiopia — Former Berlin Marathon second placer Gudisa Shentema produced a controlled performance to win the 2013 Haile Gebrselassie Marathon in Hawassa, southern Ethiopia earlier today.

Shetema was the star athlete in the field, coming into the race with a PB of 2:07:34 (Paris, 2007), and led the race for the entire second half. In the end he bided his time until the final 200m to kick clear from Tekalegn Kebelo to win in a time of 2 hours and 15 minutes and 23 seconds.

“It wasn’t the prize that brought me here,” said Shentema at the finish, “but Haile’s name. He is our inspiration. I’ve raced him many times [including in Berlin in 2006 and Dubai in 2008] and I came here for the honour of claiming the title of the first Haile Marathon winner.”

In the women’s race, the first three athletes are all members of the Senbeta training group under Negash Dube. Almaz Negede won in a time of 2:39:50, just over a minute outside her previous best of 2:38:09 from the 2012 Bucharest International Marathon.

Both male and female winners collected 100,000 birr ($5,500) for their victories, the biggest ever prize for a road race in Ethiopia. Continue reading