Monday, November 10, 2008

Kenya's Cross Country Series Kicks Off

Runners hoping for a fast dry course for the first installment of the x/c series were dissapointed with the muddy conditions in Machakos this past Saturday. Nicholas Kamakya (37:33) and Pauline Korikwiang 28:11) took the seniors races with Nicholas having an easier time of it- he beat the runner up by about half a minute.

This year's series should be of higher quality seeing that Athletics Kenya has required runners hoping to make the national team to have participated in at least 4 of the 6 meets.

Kamakya, a police officer, gauged the field over the first 2km lap and then opened up a 100 meter lead. The nearest competitor was Joel Kamary (38:06) over the 12km course.

Pauline battled it out with Pascalia Chepkirui (28:17) for a seven second victory.

The next race is this Saturday in Kericho and looks to attract a stronger field.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New York Marathon: What Did It Reveal?

While everybody else in the world (and especially here in Kenya) were talking about the impending US Presidential Elections, a few thousand runners were forcing their lungs and legs to grind through 26 miles of New York streets.

As we all know by now, the Brazilian Marilson Gomes dos Santos took the race in 2:08:43 with 2nd place going to Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri (2:09:07). A Kenyan by the name of Daniel Rono reached the podium with his 2:11:22 effort.

So what conclusions can we draw from this race?

A non-African CAN win a major marathon.

Kenyans and Gebreselassie have taken their fair share of major and minor marathons over the past few years. There are just so many sub-2:10 East Africans that there is sure to be a few entered in that marathon or road race near you. This is a fact of life and unless more runners outside of this region start developing into faster runners, expect more of the same.

But there are exceptions to every rule and dos Santos demonstrated this well in NY. While no country or region can match East Africa in numbers, there are always individuals that can “steal” a race or two.

Paul Tergat still has some life left in him.

Although he was far off the pace with his 2:13:10 fourth place finish, Tergat still finished 4th at New York! He said that he twisted his ankle at the 18 mile mark and attributed that for slowing him down.

In Kenya there’s some people that think he should just retire gracefully. They don’t believe he can regain his form from a few years back especially since he’s pushing 40. That may be true but only Tergat knows why he’s still running. Perhaps he’d like to see how long he can still run sub-2:15’s for? Maybe he wants to get under 2:10 one last time? Maybe another Major? Maybe…wait for this one…maybe he just loves competing and running?!

So I say let the guy run until he thinks it’s time to hang up the racing flats.

Martin Lel is still the man to beat.

Last year’s winner, Martin Lel, sat out the 2008 edition due to an injury he got in Beijing. But even his absence from the race didn’t stop him from collecting a cool $500,000 for winning the World Marathon Masters Series.

For those who aren’t familiar with the WMMS, it started in 2006 and consists of the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons along with the Olympics and World Championships. Points are given according to place and the runner with the most points gets the money. Simple.

So Lel got the money by accumulating 76 points which beat this year’s 2nd place NY finisher Abderrahim Goumri (56). I don’t know the status or details about Lel’s injury but let’s hope he gets up to speed soon. With him, Gebreselassie and Samuel Wanjiru on the roads, it's going to take alot to win a major marathon for the next few years!