Galen Rupp wins in Prague

This morning the Galen Rupp we saw at the Prague International Marathon (1st, 2:06:07 PB) was the Galen Rupp we expected to see in Boston 20 days ago before the conditions blew everyone into Dante’s second circle of Hell. Leading into Boston Rupp fashioned a perfect build-up after his win in Chicago last fall, tuned up with an excellent half-marathon in Rome, and spoke not a whisper of the plantar fascia niggle that compromised him a smidge in Boston 2017 in his duel with eventual champ Geoffrey Kirui – another casualty of the 2018 Boston nor’easter (casualty in the sense that he finished second after building a 90-second lead).

This morning in the Czech Republic, though, a retooled Rupp rode along on a solid, but not over-cooked 1:03:00 first half pace, then kept the momentum rolling when the rabbit dropped away and had gas enough left in the tank to put away 2:04-man Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia in the final two miles (9:26) on an ok, but not ideal marathon day.

The beauty of racing is that it is a given-day situation, this field on this day on that course in these conditions, have at it, see ya at the finish.  And though great respect goes to 2018 Boston champion Yuki Kawauchi – because on that day, in those conditions, he made all the right decisions – is there any doubt that we would have likely witnessed another Geoffrey Kirui vs. Galen Rupp duel if the conditions had been anywhere near normal, before the frigid, wind-driven rain knocked Rupp out at 19 and then locked Kirui up tighter than a mute with lockjaw over the final 5k?

The rotation at the top of the marathon game is speedier than ever these days, what with the energy expenditure needed to train for, race, and recover from 2:03s to 2:05s versus 2:08s to 2:10s.  Recent champions like Geoffrey Mutai, Patrick  Makau, Emmanuel Mutai, Moses Mosop, Dennis Kimetto and Tsegay Kebede are long gone.  Current world number one Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya remains unchallenged at the top, but at age 33 one wonders if he’ll have the drive to last to Tokyo 2020.  But I have a hopeful expectation that we might see a few more Rupp vs. G. Kirui battles in the next several years.  And after his hard-fought third-place performance in London last month, let’s throw in Rupp’s former Nike Oregon Project training mate Mo Farah as well.

The Abbott World Marathon Majors have expansion on their minds, as the running game continues to develop a worldwide following.  But let’s hope they also have the desire to build racing rivalries, too, as great runners, like great boxers, or great teams need rivals to bring out their best and to draw in more fans.

The world records attempts in London last month where conditions be damned, the pacers blew up both the men’s and women’s fields from the get-go rather than letting the athletes fight it out among themselves, gave vivid testimony to how chasing fast times may be fun in the abstract, but lacks the human quality that pure racing elicits.  No, Prague 2018 was not a great race nor a great time-trial, for that matter.  But it did once again showcase Galen Rupp as one of the world’s top distance racers.  Now let’s see him matched up with rivals Geoffrey Kirui and Mo Farah as Eliud Kipchoge goes chasing his Sub-2:00:00 somewhere.



  1. This reduction clause in appearance fees is a step in the right direction. Toni, how do race officials implement taking back money from a popular, high profile runner without some serious blowback?
    The athlete was paid to appear and those who received money did appear.

    40 years ago some outlaw race director recommended to the top Hancock honcho that Boston pay no appearance fees. All the money should be PRIZE MONEY. We won’t go into the top mans reaction but the sport would be different today. The BAA Marathon would stand alone like the golfing Masters as the ultimate in running completion. They wouldn’t need to be part of some marathon racing cabal.

    1. The sport still shows vestigal features of its shamateur past when hidden payments were necessarily the norm. Nearly 30 years after opening the sport this retention of an archaic system is a contributing factor to the lessened interest in the sporting side of running game.

  2. Maybe, without front money to the elite in Boston more athletes would have stayed in the hunt.
    Easy to bag it when you have a few thou in the bank.

  3. “…and then locked Kirui up tighter than a mute with lockjaw …”

    That’s a literal LOL!😂

  4. There is certainly room for both….racing can be exciting but not when everyone in the field uses the same strategy of strolling along as long as possible and then kicking in the end…a bit of excitement but completely forgettable in a day or 2… Chicago was memorable only because Rupp won…

    What’s missing these days are the Joneses and Ikangaas who might take it out hard and challenged the others from the start….or at least not just waiting for the 20 mile mark….these days it’s like a poker tournament where everyone has the same strategy….all in….fun to watch for a bit but in the end not very meaningful as to finding the best player on that day.

    If Boston and Chicago don’t want pacers, fine, but why have appearance fees….just straight cash prizes as in the PGA…..London and Berlin pay runners to show up for a specific job in mind….run as fast as possible…separating the two approaches would make it a lot more entertaining.

    Of course this applies to a lot of races these days. From the 1500 on up.

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