You can’t fool Mother Nature. If she doesn’t sanction it, nothing else matters. So despite the great field assembled by race director Mark Milde – including the Big 3 of former champions Kenenisa Bekele 2016, Eliud Kipchoge 2015, and Wilson Kipsang 2013 – despite the excellent pacing job that put the athletes right on record pace through 30km, when the start time temperature for today’s 44th BMW Berlin Marathon was in the mid-50s and the streets were puddled with rain – meaning high humidity – though it may not seem like an overly big thing, in fact, it was just enough of a thing to put the world record out of reach.
What’s the first lesson every coach drums into his/her athlete? Have realistic expectations. We have seen enough of these things to know that unless every piece of the puzzle falls into place – athletes, training, pace, competition, and conditions – all you can hope for is a great race. And we sure got that today. In fact, this marks the nth time a great duel has emerged in Berlin in recent years. (more…)
Davenport, IA. – I am in the Quad Cities this weekend for the 43rd QC Times Bix 7 Road Race, this year doubling as the USATF 7 Mile Road Championship. I’ll have a preview later after today’s presser.
But as this sport of life and vigor looks ahead excitedly to the Bix 7 and the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in London next week, it also remembers once again a difficult anniversary week.
It was ten years ago that we lost the incomparable Mike Long, the former elite athlete coordinator for Elite Racing, founders of the Carlsbad 5000 and Rock ‘n’ Roll Series of marathons and half-marathons. Mike passed in his sleep at age 65 July 18, 2007 at his home in South Mission Beach San Diego.
Then, just two years ago on July 25th the sport was stunned to hear that long-time athlete manager Zane Branson had succumbed to a heart attack while attending some of his athletes in Iten, Kenya.
Both Mike and Zane represented the best this sport had to offer, passionate commitment in the service of others and an abiding love of the game of running. Former New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg (now CEO of Virgin Sports) flew to San Diego for Mike’s memorial service ten years ago, and jokingly encapsulated proof of Mike’s status as the most beloved man in the sport.
“We (NYRR) think we are pretty nice people,” she said, “but we have to pay $50,000 for an athlete Mike would get for free.”
To nobody’s surprise Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge will make a world record attempt this September 24th at the BMW Berlin Marathon, site of the last six men’s marathon world bests dating back to Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie‘s 2:04:26 in 2007. That Kipchoge would run in Berlin this fall was always one of the probabilities coming out of Nike’sBreaking2Project from this past May in Monza, Italy where the 2016 Olympic Marathon champion completed the marathon distance in a remarkable 2:00:25 in an unratified attempt to break the two hour barrier for 26.2 miles.
Kipchoge came so close to the sub-two hour barrier in Italy in May using a rotating stream of 30 even-tempo pacers, that a sub-62 first half in Berlin will seem modest by comparison. In essence Breaking2 will have been a speed session for Berlin. (more…)
And so the grand experiment has come to a conclusion. And, oh, so close did it come to its vaunted goal, just one second per mile short of history’s first sub-2 hour time for the marathon distance. Not for the marathon, mind you, but for its distance – because a marathon by its historic formulation is a competitive event. What we witnessed yesterday in Monza, Italy was a time trial/lab experiment, not a race. But that is nitpicking, though a significant nit.
Notwithstanding, a huge congratulations go out to Eliud Kipchoge and the entire Nike Breaking2 Project for such a grand experiment in human performance, footwear technology, and scientific experimentation.
But what did we come away with after yesterday’s 2:00:24 performance on the Formula One racetrack in Monza? Certainly, more questions as well as some answers. First of all, we know that the sub-2 is now possible, more likely probable, because he damn near did it! But since he didn’t quite do it, what else needs to be done that this experiment informed us as still being required? (more…)
Boston, MA. – How’s the weather going to be? Will my foot hold up? Have I done enough long runs? The questions before a marathon add up like the string of long miles that stretch off into the gathering distance. And if you think those pre-race ponderables are numerous, just wait till the starter’s command sets you to the course itself.
In the face of such a devilish test one’s intentions become paramount. For as trained and resilient as the body may be, it is always the muscle, blood and bone that will be first to succumb when the questions mount faster than their answers, and wits grow short in their hour of greatest need.
“People who’ve dabbled in sports psychology say, ‘Well, the kid who’s the better performer, they think differently’,” says sports psychologist Dr. Stan Beecham in an article in Forbes Magazinespeaking of the ‘secrets to a powerful mindset’.
But the reality, according to Dr. Beecham, is not that they think differently, it’s that they don’t think at all.
“It’s the absence of thought that defines sporting excellence, the absence of cognition, the absence of emotion. That really is the advantage.” (more…)
Honolulu, HI. — Former marathon world record holder Patrick Makau and 2004 Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Isabella Ochichi, both from Kenya, have returned to Hawaii as the star attractions for Sunday’s fifth Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon. Organized by the Honolulu Marathon Association, the Hapalua features a field of nearly 8000 runners in 2016, 2000 of whom hail from Japan. Both categories represent significant increases in the rapidly expanding sister race to December’s Honolulu Marathon.
The Hapalua is best known for its unique Chase format in which Team Hawaiiconsisting of 20 top local runners from the islands are given a series of head starts ranging from 23 minutes to 6 minutes before four professionals including Ochichi, Makau, Ryotaro Otani from Japan, and Erick Kibet from Kenya, take to the chase.
Makau (PR, 58:52) and Kibet (PR, 61:10) represent the scratch runners in the field (Kibet more as a pacer to give Makau company in the early stages), while Ochichi (PR, 68:38) will have a six-minute advantage, and 25 year-old Ryotaro Otani (PR, 62:48) will begin at 5:58 a.m. a slim two minutes ahead of his Kenyan rivals. From there it is the first person across the Kapiolani Park finish line who will take home the $5000 first prize out of a total purse of $11,000.
Local runners won the first three Hapalua Chases, while Peter Kirui of Kenya finally took home the top prize for the pros last year in a course record 64:08.
2016 marks the third Hapalua appearance for Makau, whose 2:03:38 win at the 2011 Berlin Marathon stood as the world record for two years. In 2013 Patrick ran 65:28 at the Hapalua, but only finished 16th in the Chase format.
Makua returned to Honolulu in 2014, coming off a chronic knee injury that had sidelined him for the remainder of 2013 following a 2:14 finish at London Marathon in April. A the 2014 Hapalua he ran a conservative 68:42, good for 15th position in the Chase. This year he arrives with seven year-old daughter Christine after dropping out of the Dong-A Marathon in Seoul, South Korea on March 20th, felled by a stomach bug that knocked him out before he reached 10K. The former world record holder is aiming for a 63:30 on Sunday.
36 year-old Isabella Ochichi took a long seven year break from competitive running after a bronze medal finish in the 5000m at the 2006 World Athletic Final. Two Achilles tendon surgeries and a stubborn weight gain after the birth of her son Bernard in 2010 kept the 2004 Olympic silver medalist over 5000m sidelined.
She has finished third in the last two Honolulu Marathons, and fourth in the 2014 Hapalua Chase, even with a women’s course record 70:24. Just last week Isabella finished fifth in the Prague Half Marathon running 69:03. Her goal is to run 71-flat.
The Hapalua starts at 6 a.m.on April 10 by The Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki and finishes in Kapiolani Park just like its sister Honolulu Marathon in December. The times on the Hapalua course seem slow, but that has as much to do with challenging front and backside climbs over the infamous Diamond Head in the final four miles as it does with the tropical weather.
I will be hosting a live Periscope feed from the lead vehicle once the sun comes up. You can follow along on my Periscope (<— download link) at ToniReavis.
Periscope is a simple iPhone app by Twitter that lets you do live streaming or broadcast to all your followers on Twitter. You can also watch and follow other people doing broadcasts on it. If a person you’re following is doing live broadcasts, you can easily see it from your main dashboard on the app.
Honolulu, Hawaii — After two days of sightseeing and public appearances, Patrick Makau, Peter Kirui, and Isabella Ochichi will get down to the business end of their trip to Honolulu Sunday morning as the 3rdHapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathonbegins along Waikiki Beach (see start schedule below).
Makau ran the fastest time under 2013’s torrential downpour, 65:28, but because The Chase format was in play, where the top pros had to chase down 24 top local runners given head starts, Patrick only crossed the finish line in 16th place.
This year Makau is coming off an injury which derailed the rest of 2013, a year he saw his world record fall to countryman Wilson Kipsang in Berlin. The Hapalua will be Patrick’s first competition since a hollowed out 2:14 at the 2013 London Marathon last April. He’s just now getting back to real training. Isabella Ochichi is on the comeback trail, too, after an endless seven year layoff. With the Honolulu Marathon already on her December schedule, this first visit to Oahu is as much an audition as anything. Strangely, there has never been a Kenyan women’s winner at the Honolulu Marathon. The Hapalua will let her test the tropical conditions. She is healthy now, but being sensible with her return to form.