Tag: Derek Clayton

WHO KNOWS WHAT’S A RECORD ANYMORE?

My old Runner’s World friend and long-time chronicler of the sport Peter Gambaccini wrote on my FB page in response to “WHAT A WORLD!” (RECORD) about the first sub-two hour marathon this past weekend in Vienna: “I am much more impressed by the 2:01s Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele ran in “real” marathons (in Berlin 2018 and 2019) than I am by what transpired in Vienna (INEOS 1:59 Challenge).

“Marathon racing is supposed to involve decisions, and Kipchoge had very few to make last weekend. I was glad to see Kipchoge finish hard on his own, and I suppose we should be grateful that elite running got more coverage from the general interest media than it had since the days of Bolt.  But there’s no point in any more extravaganzas like Vienna, is there?”

I thought Peter’s question was worth sharing and answering. So here goes. (more…)

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TIME, TIME, TIME, LOOK WHAT’S BECOME OF ME

There are those who put a lot of stock in birth order in determining a person’s psychological development. Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870-1937) was one of the first in his field to suggest that birth order played a determinative role in how one approached friendships, love, and work. Later studies challenged his birth-order theory, but generally speaking first-born children were said to be more conscientious and achievement oriented, while laterborns were more rebellious, open, and agreeable. (Sounds about right in my sibling lineup)

But beyond in what order you may have been born within your own family, there is also something to be said for being born at the right time in the history of man in determining one’s future path. Not in the astrological sense, as in Mercury being in retrograde when mom spit you out, but in the sense of coming along when the world is prepared to appreciate and remunerate your particular skill set.

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Aussie great Derek Clayton

When Australia’s Derek Clayton reset the marathon world record in Antwerp, Belgium in 1969 at 2:08:34, he broke his own record of 2:09:37 set in Fukuoka, Japan two years earlier. But riddle me this? Who were the guys back in Nairobi, Ngong, Eldoret, or Iten, Kenya at the time who weren’t racing in Fukuoka or Antwerp?  Who were the guys that we never knew, never heard of, but may well have been the best marathoners of their generation but never were? (more…)

BERLIN 2017: IS PAST STILL PROLOGUE?

In the past, it was the pure strength men, or those who couldn’t quite finish fast enough on the Olympic track to earn medals, who sought solace in the marathon. Back then the world record was less a goal than an outcome. Names like Derek Clayton, Ron Hill, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Toshihiko Seko, Alberto Salazar, Rob de Castella, Steve Jones, and Juma Ikangaa are still venerated by old hearts.

Today, with the rewards to be made, young men come into the game totally fearless, all the progeny of the late Sammy Wanjiru, the mercurial Kenyan who announced a new era in marathon running when he attacked the 2008 Beijing Olympic course on a hot summer’s day as if he were on a 10k romp through a dewy meadow on a perfect spring morn. The following spring in London he goaded pacers to a 28:30 first 10k on the way to a 1:01:36 half and a brave, but fading 2:05:10 win.

Wanjiru forever changed the relationship between racers and the distance in those two races, stripping the marathon of much of its mystique, and arming marathoners everywhere with new courage at starting lines around the world.

We saw the full effect of the Wanjiru Era last May in Monza, Italy when former 5000 meter world champion Eliud Kipchoge came within 25 seconds of the two-hour barrier at Nike’s Breaking2 Project exhibition.  And now on September 24th in Berlin, Kipchoge, along with defending champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and 2013 winner and ’16 runner up Wilson Kipsang of Kenya will meet at the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon, hunting for sub-2:02:57, the official marathon world record. It is a glorious matchup between two former track men moving up and one pure marathon man, each a past winner in the German capital.   (more…)

2009 VS 2016 – MARATHON LISTS

Derek Clayton battling Seiichiro Sasaki at Fukuoka Marathon 1967
Derek Clayton battling Seiichiro Sasaki at Fukuoka Marathon 1967

During the height of the running boom there was one seemingly unassailable mark, the 2:08:34 marathon world record set by Australia’s Derek Clayton in Antwerp 1969.  Before that Clayton had become history’s first sub-2:10 marathoner in Fukuoka, Japan in 1967 when he ran 2:09:37.

When the new crop of world marathon stars like Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers failed to approach Clayton’s times, and the mark held on to its position for more than a decade, there was the feeling that the record was something of an outlier. Some even suggested that the Antwerp course, staged as a highway dedication and only run once, might have been short.

Mr. Clayton, himself, railed against the thought. But it wasn’t until Alberto Salazar ran 2:08:13 in New York City 1981 on a course later found to be 149 meters short, and another big quad man from Down Under, Rob de Castella won Fukuoka several weeks later in 2:08:18 that a new era was born. (more…)

SUB-2:00:00? DO THE MATH

Kubrick’s Obelisk

Every year or so, the talk of the 2-Hour Marathon rises like some Kubrickian obelisk heralding the coming of a new age.  Most recently, NYRR featured a Head to Head between English commentator Tim Hutchings and ex-USA Today scribe Dick Patrick – and, boy, don’t we miss his presence at the national rag?  In Dick’s heyday in the 1980s through the 2000’s, each of the American marathon majors in Boston, Chicago and New York City would receive a full-page sport’s section preview with course map, athlete bios, and pace charts in the Friday edition before the race.  This past October 5th USA Today printed not one word about the marathon in Chicago.  It’s another striking confirmation how a once vibrant sport has been sundered by flatulent fun-run and charity fund-raising spectacles.

In any case, the 2-Hour Marathon.  Dick thought it would happen in his lifetime.  Tim thought not.  I like numbers.  Let them tell the tale.

Since Johnny Hayes ran 2:55:18 at the 1908 London Olympic Games to win the gold medal, the marathon distance has been officially recognized at 26 miles, 385 yards, or 42.195 kilometers.  In the 104 years since, Mr. Hayes’ mark has been “officially” improved upon 37 separate times.  Performances like Alberto Salazar’s 2:08:13 from NYC 1981 and Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 from Boston 2011 have come up either short on re-measurement, or deemed ineligible for record purposes due to point-to-point course layout.

So let’s stick with the officially recognized 37 world record improvement down to today’s 2:03:38 set in Berlin 2011 by Kenya’s Patrick Makau. (more…)