Wednesday, 9 November 2011


 Yesterday's track session called for a gentle 4 miler on the grass today and inevitably whilst lapping the grounds my mind went back to Sunday's New York City marathon and particularly how Kenya's MARY KEITANY had approached and executed the race.

Unlike the mens race in which,   as usual,  a large group of the world's finest breezed along knocking off the speedy miles and eyeing each other up, the womens race quickly developed into an "catch me if you can" game of hare and hounds as Mary Keitany simply took off,  recording  31.54 for the first 10K which included the pull up the Verrazano Bridge from the start.   2:14:35 world record pace.  What was she thinking?  Was that the plan?
 Reading her pre-race somewhat cagey interview accompanied by her agent, Gabriele Nicola,  to make a statement very early in the race  was the plan.  To make it clear that she was the one to beat and she wasn't going to be held back by the bunch.   To assert herself from the off.
 But agent Nicola also said that Keitany "won't be trying for a marathon world in 2012 because of the Olympics but would wait until 2013! 
 So why then did the Kenyan  not stick to the plan?   After the race she declined to admit that she had gone off to fast and paid the price,  saying that she had a problem with her leg towards the end
and that she would race the same way again.  It will be interesting to see how she approachs the Olympic marathon.
 Following her 31.54 she slowed to 32.27 (20K)  34.16  (30K)  37.08 (40K)  but was she "foolhardy"
"reckless" "naive" as reports suggest or was it an heroic attempt to beat Paula Radcliffe's time.
Another report described her second half of the race as "marathon meltdown".  Hardly fair bearing in mind the way she responded she as the hare was caught by the hounds in 2nd and 3rd place, Deba and winner Dado.   They didn't breeze past a runner fighting to stay upright.  Keitany to her credit rejoined the fight and for a moment it looked like a 2 horse race before she drifted back. 
  Now the elite female runner that Geoffrey Mutai passed staggering her way through the last  mile may well have deserved the  description of meltdown but a bit off the mark for Mary Keitany, I think.  
  The printed results defy the whole drama of the hare and hounds chase that unfolded on the streets of New York.   Dado ran  2: 23:15,  narrowly defeating Deba 2:23:19 with Keitany a close 3rd in 2:23:38   but how they ran to those times made for very interesting viewing!
 World bests or world records generally don't just happen do they?   More often than not an athlete  in such good shape that they feel the record is within their grasp and they go for it.  We see it on the track all the time.  Some succeed, generally they fail. But the commentator doesn't describe the failure as "meltdown".
 My guess is that Keitany's  first 10K was simply over exuberant   and from then on she tried to slowly put the brakes on,  possibly  mindful of her agent's instructions that this was not the day for a record ; just get the win!  But ultimately the course  took its toll.   The slope up the Queensboro Bridge, more  bridges and bends  and then Central Park.  
 One thing is pretty certain from half way the predominant emotion she would have been burdoned by was.........FEAR!
  I've been "fortunate" to have lead 3 marathons.   I did similar to Mary Keitany, briefly, early on in the 1985 Leeds marathon; opening a gap on a bunch of the region's finest, only to slip back to a disconsolate, frustrated  12th.  as witness in left pic. ( Blog follower Jack Verity is just to the right of the policeman and went on to finish 5th in 2:27.48)
  Better fortune in the 1984 Selby marathon  when I shared the lead with wee Harry Bates at 25 miles. He decided to stop for a drink (?)  leaving me to race away over the last mile.   An anxious end to the race.
  But the really "fearful" marathon was the Morecambe earlier that year in March.   It was around the 14 mile point that I found myself leading  from  Fylde Coast running's Ron McAndrew and with over 12 miles left  there no feeling of elation just the constant dread of being caught or suddenly being hit by cramp or whatever as can happen over 26.2 miles at any time late in the race.   That finish line just could not come soon enough believe me!
  My time that day of 2:28.57 coincidently  was very close to that of JO PAVEY in NEW YORK
(2:28:42) arguably a better performance than her slightly faster (18 seconds) debut in London.  She has certainly reasserted her position as GB's no 2 female marathoner.  But  that game is by no means over as each player shows her hand between now and selection day. 


1 comment:

  1. Yes - womens marathon selection should be very interesting