Tag: Khalid Khannouchi

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…)

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POOR WEATHER FORECAST FOR KENYAN OLYMPIC TRIALS

Out of Africa

Ngong, Kenya – With fewer electronic pursuits available in rural Africa, time is spent more in the age-old give and take of robust conversation, where, whether the topic is sports, politics, or society at large, the time is filled in spirited debate.

Today, having flown back to Nairobi last night from a rainy and chilly Eldoret, we began this morning at breakfast wondering about the ominous forecast for this Saturday’s Kenyan Olympic Trials at Nyayo Stadium downtown.

Right now the sun remains well blanketed by a deep layer of clouds while temperatures remain down right frigid (for Kenya, mind you. This isn’t Enterprise Falls in January by any stretch).   The long-range forecast for Saturday’s Trials call for temps between 14-16C with overcast skies and perhaps as much as 8mm of rain – check for the Fahrenheit and inches equivalency at your leisure, makes for an instructive and interactive blog reading experience.

Vivian Cheruiyot all smiles after 10,000m win

With such weather conditions, any athlete with a slight injury could face unexpected problems.  One such athlete that comes to mind is Vivian Cheruiyot who won the Kenyan women’s 10,000-meter Trials last Friday at Kasarani Stadium. Saturday she hopes to double in the 5000.  Last week Vivian complained of a small ankle injury, but then closed the final 400 meters of the 10,000m in 60-flat to secure her position on the team.

Such vagaries of weather and Trials’ timing are the wildcards which cannot be forecast.  Since the Kenyan Trials’ system calls for two automatic qualifiers and the third position added by selection, one would assume, all things being equal, that the 2011 double World Champion would have a foot up even if the weather produced a result below par. Hopefully, the sun will emerge and let the true talent decide the selection.

*****

Another topic which necessitated a second pot of coffee this morning at the Margarita Hotel was the question of whether time being pushed too much these days in the marathon at the risk of great competition?

There are only so many men capable of running 2:03 or 2:04 in the marathon.  That much we know.  On top of, it now requires a pacer capable of breaking the world record at 30K just to put those few men in position to assault such times over the entire 42.2k distance.

In 2011, Peter Kirui paced both Patrick Makau’s 2:03:38 at Berlin, and one month later, Wilson Kipsang’s 2:03:42 in Frankfurt.  Only because he dropped out in Berlin was Kirui not rewarded with the 30K world road record.  He, in fact, led Makau past the mark in Berlin, then continued to the finish in Frankfurt after pulling Kipsang through 30k in near-world record splits.

At the same time, men who are capable of attempting a marathon world record do not relish the challenge of another top guy in the same race.  It requires a completely different mindset to attempt a world record as opposed to racing for a victory. That Patrick Makau managed both last fall in Berlin against former record holder Haile Gebrselassie is the exception, not the rule. (more…)