Tag: BMW Berlin Marathon

MAKING A MOCKERY OF COMPETITION

Geoffrey Mutai holds on in Berlin

     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 –

Thrill of Victory

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…)

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BERLIN MARATHON – MEN’S PREVIEW

     One week from today the 39th BMW Berlin Marathon will kick off the post-Olympic fall major marathon season.  Part of the week’s menu in Berlin will be the announcement of the destination for the Mystery Marathon, the new adventure marathon event helmed by Elite Racing and Rock `n` Roll Marathon founder Tim Murphy.

While the official unveil of the Mystery Marathon’s destination isn’t scheduled until next Thursday, I have the inside track (disclaimer:  I’m part of the MM team!)  As such, I’ll have an exclusive sneak peak at the new Mystery Marathon website next Tuesday September 25th.  Look for that here on the blog.  The Mystery Marathon promises to be a unique and first-rate operation, without doubt!

Toni & Josh Cox on the call

Now to the Berlin Marathon itself.  American 50K record holder Josh Cox and I will man the booth for Universal Sports TV coverage of Berlin next Sunday September 30 from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Pacific. And since the last four men’s marathon world records have been set in the German capital, the 39th Berlin Marathon portends mighty possibilities. (more…)

$500,000 WORLD MARATHON MAJORS TITLE COMING DOWN TO A NYC SHOOT-OUT

    As we begin the countdown to the November 6th ING New York City Marathon, there are several threads of interest braided through the men’s and women’s professional fields, both of which are laden with top-end talent.  Among these interests are the potential for Olympic selection for London 2012, and the World Marathon Majors© men’s division showdown and its $500,000 payoff. Today, let’s focus on the World Marathon Majors.

Now in its sixth year, the WMMs concept has yet to turn into the public relations focal point for running that the FedEx Cup has for professional golf, or that the Chase for the Sprint Cup has for NASCAR.  Yet, for the second straight cycle, the series has peaked nicely in the men’s division.

Of course, nobody who follows the sport will ever forget the epic duel between the now sadly departed Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede at the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The last 5K of that battle remains the standard by which all future final marathon miles will be judged. And a great part of the excitement was generated by the fact that the two tiny warriors were competing for a bonus anyone watching could appreciate, half a million dollars.  In fact, the prize elevated not just the perception of the competition, it elevated the quality and passion of the competitors, as well.

It is one reason I have argued, ad nauseum, for larger publicly recognized purses or bonuses in our sport. How much one receives for any endeavor in this society either validates, or invalidates, that endeavor by how much one receives for the doing it.  That might not be the path to heaven’s door, but it sure is the path to the American Dream. And if we want to attract not just participants, but fans to our sport, our champions must reap the same harvests as our sporting brethren. By maintaining low prize purses and hidden appearance fees, running all but guarantees an ignoring public, including our increasingly rotund kids. (more…)

BERLIN MARATHON PREVIEW

     The Fall marathon season kicks off in Berlin Sunday morning with both world record holders on the line anxious to prove themselves ready for the run up to next year’s Olympic Marathon in London.  With Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie and England’s Paula Radcliffe sharing top billing, it marks only the third time in history that both the men’s and women’s world record holder will compete on the same day.  In 1989 Belayneh Densimo of Ethiopia and Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway ran in New York City, and in 2005 Kenya’s Paul Tergat joined Paula Radcliffe in London.

Sunday in Berlin, both record holders arrive with questions and high hopes.  The oft-injured Radcliffe is returning to marathon competition for the first time since finishing fourth in ING New York City Marathon in 2009 where she was compromised with tendinitis in her knee. In the mean time she has given birth to her second child, son Raphael, and then had to overcome post-partum hyperthyroidism and a bad disc in her back.  Haile Gebrselassie is making his first return to the distance since dropping out in New York City last November in mile, also due to a knee injury.  Though he rashly announced his retirement in the aftermath, Haille quickly reversed his decision, and even signed up for the February 2011 Tokyo Marathon.  Another knee problem in training, however, forced him to withdraw. But he comes to Berlin with his old smiling countenance and good cheer, a sign he is in form.

 This will be Radcliffe’s first go over the swift Berlin layout, while Haile has won four times in the German capital, and set two world records there, as well. (more…)