Kastor Breaks World Masters Half-marathon Record #running #marathon #kastor

running-advice-bugDeena Kastor remains one the greatest American distance runners and she showed that off to the world this weekend by crushing the World Record for Master’s women runners in the half-marathon. In running 1:09:21 she busted some other world master’s marks along the way, including for the 15K, 10 miles and 20K.

Kastor after Rock N Roll Philly 2014; Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun

Kastor after Rock N Roll Philly 2014; Photo: Andrew McClanahan PhotoRun

Kastor is no stranger to running fast. In addition to taking the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and holding the American record for the marathon, she also holds American records for the half-marathon, 15K, 8k and 5K. She’s also won the London and Chicago Marathons. Her 5K personal best of 14:51.62 is pretty smokin’ fast.

I met Kastor over ten years ago and I remember feeling that I dwarfed the diminutive runner, whose arm at the bicep was about as big around as my wrist. At 5′ 4″ and about 104 pounds she’s small but mighty fast. She is a source of inspiration for many runners, not only due to her speed but due to her longevity and the calm and class that she exudes when she talks about running.

Famed running commentator John Bingham called the race this weekend. He said on Facebook afterward, “. . .to be able to talk to her and listen to her speak with grace and humility and gratitude was as inspirational as her performance.”

After the race, Kastor remarked “I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. Today’s race was a benchmark. “It was really humid out there and I didn’t feel great, but I ran fast so I’m thrilled.”

Kastor reportedly plans to run the New York City Marathon this year and may take another shot at the US Olympic Marathon team in 2016.

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News — Dallas is next home to Rock N Roll Half-Marathon

DALLAS — Competitor Group, organizers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, and the Dallas White Rock Marathon have announced a multi-year partnership agreement to host an annual spring half marathon. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon is set for Sunday, March 14, 2010 and is expected to draw between 12,000 and 15,000 runners.

“From 5ks to marathons, Dallas is a city that loves to race and run,” said Mayor Tom Leppert, who joined U.S. 50k record holder Josh Cox in making the announcement on National Running Day. “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is clearly a premier, national event. We are certain the thousands of runners who participate next year will discover why Dallas is such a great place to run.”

Dallas joins the existing Rock ‘n’ Roll markets of Arizona, Nashville, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Virginia Beach, San Jose, San Antonio and Las Vegas. The half marathon will be the tenth event in the national series of musically themed marathons and half-marathons, which include live bands, cheerleaders and themed water stations at each mile along the course.

“This partnership enables the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to continue rolling out additional events in key markets,” said Peter Englehart, CEO of the Competitor Group. “The Dallas White Rock Marathon shares our commitment to providing runners with an outstanding experience, which was an important consideration when we began forming this multi-year agreement. The March timing for a stand alone half marathon works perfectly with our national event schedule.”
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Races — Kipruto breaks Paris Marathon course record

PARIS – Vicent Kipruto clocked a course record 2 hours 5 minutes 47 seconds as he held off Ethiopian Bazu Worka (2:06:15) and Kenya’s David Kiyeng (2:06:26) to win the Paris Marathon in the French capital today.

Kipruto’s time cracked the top-10 all time list for the marathon on the same day that two men inserted themselves onto the list at the number 3 position in the Rotterdam Marathon.

At just 21-years old, Kipruto becomes part of a growing list of young sub-2:05 capable runners that have debuted in the last few years, chief among Olympic Gold Medalist and Record Holder Sammy Wanjiru who is only 22 years.

The women’s race saw an Ethiopian one-two finish, with Atsede Byisa winning in 2:24:52 hours from Aselefech Mergia (2:25:02). Christelle Dauny of France was third in 2:25:43 hours.

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Racing — Even Pacing in the Marathon

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

I’ve written many times here on the blog about the need for even pacing in a marathon — meaning running the same pace per mile from the start to the finish of a marathon. Even pacing is the optimal method to pace in a marathon at almost every level and marathon runners should make it their priority to learn their goal pace so that they can run every mile at their target pace in the marathon.

Even the most elite runners, who we sometimes hear run “negative splits” in races, run nearly even pace for much of the marathon. An elite runner clocking a negative split (the second half being faster than the first half) will most likely run the first 22-24 miles of the marathon at near exactly the same pace per mile and then might accelerate in those last 2-3 miles to get to that negative split. But for the most part, hitting those first 22 or so miles at the same pace should really be considered even pacing.

The trick to even pacing is to understand that even when running the same pace throughout the race, the perceived effort level will increase through the race. Because of the impact of fatigue and the repetition on the running muscles for such a long period of time, when running at a constant pace it will FEEL harder as the miles go on. That means that the first few miles may feel easy in a race, the middle miles will feel more challenging, and the last miles may feel very hard — all when those miles are being run at the same pace.

A runner said to me yesterday that in her marathon it had felt “really hard” starting only at mile 8 or 10, yet she had nearly hit her goal pace in the marathon. When I looked at her splits I saw something that I’ve seen many times. Although she had just about run her goal pace (meaning her average mile pace when figured across the whole race), she had done it by running too fast in the first portion, about her average in the middle, and then slower than her average in the late miles. This did average out to about her goal pace, but this is why the experience was so tough on her. Those fast first miles were too fast; the effort in those miles forced her to slow down; and then the later miles were a battle against fatigue to continue running after the early quick miles.
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Upcoming: Flora London Marathon leads off big week for marathoning

Flora London MarathonWith three of the biggest marathoning events coming up over the next week, this is going to be one of the most exciting times of the year for marathon racing fans. Three events — the Flora London Marthon, the US Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials and the Boston Marathon — all fall within the nine day span starting April 13th with London and then following up with the Trials and Boston on April 20th and 21st.

As we get set for our coverage of these three amazing events, let’s start with a preview of the Flora London Marathon.

Starting off our dream week of racing, the Flora London Marathon will be held on April 13th, 2008. The London Marathon is known for its fast course and stellar elite fields. The marathon world record has been set four times at London, once by Khalid Khannouchi on the men’s side, twice by Gete Waitz and once by Paula Radcliffe. With that said, it is unlikely that we’ll see a new world record this year as current world record holder Haile Gebrselassie is not in the field and has set the bar (so it would seem) higher than anyone else can attain at this moment.

Women’s Marathon World Record holder Paula Radcliffe has pulled out of the race due to an injury to her foot, as has the USA’s 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Meb Keflezighi, who will focus on his training for the US Olympic Trials for the 10,000M. Haile Gebrselassie ran in the Dubai Marathon in January, so will not be at London this year either. But, don’t worry, there will be loads of other incredible runners in the field.

New York City Marathon winner Martin Lel and runner-up Abderrahim Goumri will both be in the field. The pair finished 1-2 at both London and New York last year. Lel has won the London Marathon twice and hopes to become only the third runner to win the London Marathon three times. Other top runners in the event will include 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Stefano Baldini, 2007 World Champion Luke Kibet, and former world record holder Paul Tergat.

On the American side, US Olympic Trials winner Ryan Hall will be in the race in a pre-Olympic tune-up. In an article in the New York Times this week, Stefano Baldini said of Hall: “this is an athlete who can win a lot of things, a lot of medals. He is able to read the race and react, so he is the future.” Hall went on to say that he was getting antsy waiting for the Olympics and needed something to focus on in the mean-time since the Trials last November.
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2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Ugly

This is part III of my series, 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Part I: The Good
Part II: The Bad
Part III: The Ugly (this article)

2007 had its moments. For a lot of marathon runners, it will be a year that they would like to soon forget. This is despite all of the great things that happened this year. While we look back on some of the worst moments of 2007, let’s not lose sight of the fact that there were lots of great performances this year and thousands and thousands of runners had great experiences. But there will still be those that got caught in these disasters. To them, we feel for you and we hope that you’ll get back up and try again.

2007 Marathon Year in Review
Part III: The ugly

Chicago Marathon shrivels in the heat
There was a point this year when I thought that we just couldn’t possibly see any more bad weather in marathons. We’d seen horrible weather at the Boston Marathon and unseasonable temperatures in Europe in the spring. But the whole thing really came to a head when the Chicago Marathon quite literally had a melt-down.

Descriptions from marathon runners who were there in October, characterize the Chicago Marathon as a surreal heat-wave infected nightmare. Not only was it intolerably hot, but humid as well. The race started as planned, but organizers quickly determined that they were in trouble. As the day unfolded, the race would be cut off, leaving many runners helplessly confused. Some slower runners were diverted near the half-way point, while others were told to stop running in the later miles. Aid stations ran out of supplies. The finish-line clock was eventually shut down. Hundreds of runners were treated for dehydration and heat illnesses. One runner died.

The 2007 Chicago Marathon goes down as both horrible weather story and organizational debacle. Many runners felt that the situation was ultimately mishandled and showed a real lack of emergency planning and communication. Chicago is known for putting on a great race. This one is the one that they will hope they can soon forget.

Difficult debut in Atlanta
In almost an eerie parallel to the Chicago Marathon debacle, the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon this spring saw record heat as well. But in Atlanta the problem was the supply of their aid stations to help out the hot and suffering runners. Apparently supplies of fluid-replacement drink were not delivered on-time and many of the aid stations didn’t have cups anyway. Runners reported being without water from mile 2 onwards.

It goes without saying that you can’t put on a marathon without your aid station supplies. Doing so on a hot day made the situation even worse. Hopefully they’ll do better next time.

Timing problems at Honolulu Marathon
A story that is still fresh on our minds is the ugliest of all uglies: a total timing melt-down at the Honolulu Marathon. Apparently heavy rains before the start caused computers to perform a re-set, causing as many as 3,500 runners’ times not to be captured in the system at all. And worse, all of the times that were recorded were inaccurate.

Honolulu Marathon organizers are still digging out of the mess. They are reviewing finish-line video to try to reconstruct the correct timing, an effort that may take as much as 800 man-hours. That’s ugly all the way around.

Tragedy at the US Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials
Everyone in the running community was struck with grief when elite runner Ryan Shay died at the US Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials in New York on November 3rd 2007. People described Shay as likeable and a fierce competitor. He collapsed about 5 1/2 miles into the trials and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, most likely from an enlarged heart. (Read a commentary that includes more on Ryan Shay here.)

The Ryan Shay story cast a long-shadow over the Trials and the New York City Marathon the next day. It also put a spot-light on marathon running in general, causing many people to ask if more care should be placed on safe-guarding the health of our Olympic hopefuls and marathon runners in general.

With that sad note, I’ll end this walk through the 2007 year of marathon running. I’m glad to say that “the ugly” was the shortest chapter in this series of articles. Let’s remember all of the good stuff that happened this year: Gebs, Paula, Ryan, and Chrissie we hope to see more of your astonishing performances next year. 2008 will feature the Olympics in Beijing and perhaps another record-year for marathon finishes, maybe even the first ever marathon under 2:04:00.

Finally, I hope that you all have a great 2008 and live lots of “good” moments when you’re out there running.

Related articles:
Chicago Marathon sees record heat

Timing concerns widen at Honolulu Marathon

Hall breaks record at US Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials

Commentary: the athlete heroes are back

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running Advice and News (www.running-advice.com)

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2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Bad

This is part III of my series, 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Part I: The Good
Part II: The Bad (this article)
Part III: The Ugly

As I continue with my look back at the 2007 Year in Marathon Running, I now move on “the bad”. These are the moments that gave us a little trouble and made us think a negative thought or two, but not those that rise to the level of being really ugly. We’ll get to those tomorrow. I’m an overwhelmingly positive person, but in fairness this year its share of bad and ugly to go along with all of the great moments. Now let’s continue our walk down memory lane to some more of 2007’s big moments.

2007 Marathon Year in Review
Part II: The bad

A Nor’easter in Boston
Two days before the Boston Marathon I published a story about a press conference by Boston Marathon officials in which they stated affirmatively that the 2007 Boston Marathon was not going to be cancelled. For a couple of days there, even the most diehard of marathon runners were wondering if it was a good idea to run the marathon on Patriot’s Day 2007. The weather was a near 100-year storm: freezing cold, pouring rain, and driving winds.

Boston Marathon officials should be commended for taking a bad situation and trying their hardest to make sure that no major disasters struck. In fact, the weather improved a bit by race time, but that’s not saying much. One of the most memorable moments for me this year was watching the elite women runners having to lean into the cross-winds each time the came out of the shadow of a building to go across an intersection.

For sure the weather was not comfortable, but the runners came prepared and the hardy folk of Boston managed to pull one out in some bad, bad, conditions.

Side-note: sometimes when you have to go, you have to go. It was another not so good moment when one of my personal heroines Deena Kastor had to drop off the Boston Marathon course to answer the call of nature. She still managed to finish 5th and become the US Women’s National Marathon Champion.

Illness and injury at the Ironman World Championships
2007 was just sort of a cursed year for many of the professionals at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Before the race began, 2005 champion Faris Al-sultan dropped out due to a case of the flu that had apparently been going around the pro-triathlete ranks. Desiree Ficker ended up suffering a lack-luster performance in the aftermath of the same bug. Michellie Jones reported having a perforated eardrum from an accident she suffered in training.

And out on the race course, the leaders seemed to be having a lot of trouble too. First it was Natascha Badmann who crashed on her bike, after hitting a cone. She re-mounted her ride and continued, but had to pull out of the race later. On the men’s side it was Normann Stadler first that was throwing up while riding and would have to drop out. New Zealand’s Cameron Brown dropped out too, reporting that he was having difficulties after being sick with a virus too.

So while there were some great performances at the 2007 Ironman World Championships, it’s probably one that a lot of people would prefer to forget.

Foot in mouth disease
Every once in awhile someone says something that really irks people. I’ve done it myself from time-to-time. Back in August the New York Times published an article quoting Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners club as saying something that got a lot of people up in arms. The article was about why older women runners do better than younger ones.

From the New York Times:
Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners, thinks part of the answer is that most female runners shortchange themselves. Look at them before races she said. Men warm up and do strides, short runs to prepare to take off at the starting line. A lot of women hang back, often because they are embarrassed to be out there with the men, acting like determined athletes, Ms. Wittenberg said.

They are too inhibited to put their full passion out there,” she said. “They are almost afraid to be serious about a sport. They think that if they’re not the best, they shouldn’t care so much.”

I don’t know if there is much more that needs to be said other than that this one didn’t sit well with many of the women runners that I heard from. Sorry Mary, but although I’m sure you meant to say something good, a lot of female athletes took issue with you on this one.

Turn-over at the Olympic level
The US Men’s Olympic Trials were an up and down day for marathon runners. On the one hand, we had the astonishing performance of the winner, Ryan Hall, who set a new record and handily trounced the competition. On the other hand, we had the very sad news of Ryan Shay’s death in the race. But between those two extremes, there was another more subtle story: the complete turn-over in our representation to the next Olympics from the last. Neither 2004 Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi or 2004 Olympian Dan Browne made the cut for the 2008 team.

On the one hand, this could signal that the competition in US running has become even that much more intense, which is a really good thing. But on the other hand, the down-side to a complete turn-over in the squad is that we won’t be sending back any of the experienced athletes that went to the Olympic Marathon last time. This is a close call. Personally, my glass-is-half-full personality thinks that the new crop of runners looks very promising and I hope we have a great showing in the Olympics next summer.

Hot weather hits London, Paris and other European races
My last bit of not-so-good news this year was the heat-wave that hit Europe in April. The London Marathon, the Paris Marathon and a number of other races were all run under very hot conditions. We didn’t see any major disasters there, as we did in some other races, but the early heat did throw a chink into the plans for a lot of early-season runners in Europe.

So that’s my look back at the not-so-stellar moments of 2007. Next up? You guessed it, the truly ugly moments of 2007. And there were, unfortunately, a bunch of those.

Related articles:
Boston Marathon 2007: A wild day in Boston

McCormack and Wellington win at Ironman World Championships

Commentary: Ladies are you a bunch of sissies?

Hall wins US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
for Running Advice and News (www.running-advice.com)

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2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Good

This is part III of my series, 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Part I: The Good (this article)
Part II: The Bad
Part III: The Ugly

2007 was a wild year for marathon running. It will be a year that will be remembered for incredible performances, freakish weather and bad race management. In fact, as I looked across the year there were so many things that stood out this year, that I’ve titled this series: The good, the bad and the ugly. Today we start, as we should, with the good.

2007 Marathon Year in Review
Part I: The good

It was the good news in 2007 that shows that marathon running is a lively and vibrant sport. When the final tally comes in, more people will have completed marathons this year than ever before. And at the front of the pack, elite runners kept turning our heads, reminding us both of how competitive the sport and how quickly the landscape can change in elite running. Let’s start with someone wild this year: the debutants.

A trio of debut marathoners leaves us breathless
Runners that debut do amazing things in their debut marathons come along once in awhile, but this year there were three debut marathon runners that did feats so amazing that it’s almost hard to believe them.

Let’s start with 31 year-old Abderrahim Goumri. Goumri burst onto the stage this year as a real contender by finishing second in both the first and second marathons in his career. And we’re not talking about your local home-town marathons. We’re talking the Flora London Marathon and the ING New York City Marathon, two of the most important races in the world. Goumri lost both races to Martin Lel, as the more seasoned marathon runner was able to out-kick him in the closing steps of both races. Starting out a career with a 2:07:44 and 2:09:16 (on a more difficult course) is not a bad way to start things off. Watch for him back at London next spring.

Next up is American Ryan Hall. Hall started out the year at the Flora London Marathon as well. In his debut race, he finished seventh in 2:08:24, making him the second fastest American ever at the marathon distance and the fastest ever born in the United States. Not a bad start. How did he follow this up? Well, how about breaking the record at the US Olympic Marathon Trials and winning the race by almost two minutes in a time nearly just a second off of the winning time of the New York City Marathon. His 2:09:02 in the US Olympic Marathon Trials could have been even faster, as he waved and enjoyed the crowd in the closing mile. Next summer he will compete in the Olympic Marathon in Beijing.

And our last incredible debutant is the very young Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru, who broke the half-marathon world record, not once but twice, this year. He then made his debut at the Fukuoka Marathon in December, winning the race convincingly. In running a 2:06:39 marathon, Wanjiru sets the 27th fastest time in history, only 16 other men have run times faster. He is now only 21 years-old, and at age 19 he was named Kenya’s Most Promising Sportsmen of the Year. I think we’ll see a lot more of this young runner.

A new world record
Haile Gebrselassie is arguably the greatest distance runner in history. In his career he has continually crushed world records at distances short and long. When he sets his sights on a new goal, he does whatever it takes to achieve it. He is strategically strong, picking the correct races, and has the athletic work-ethic and talent to back up his conquests.

Gebrselassie told the world that he planned to set “the big one”: a new marathon world-record. And in his trademark fashion, he didn’t just imply or hint at it. He literally told us that he was setting out to break the record in the Berlin Marathon. His game-plan unfolded flawlessly on September 30th, 2007, when he set out into the morning with his squad of elite pace-runners, leaving them behind at 35KM to run alone in the closing miles. When he crossed the line, he had cut a whopping 29 seconds off of the world record, setting a new mark at 2:04:26.

Where will Gebrselassie go next? Never to leave a doubt in our heads, Haile has sketched out his plans for us. He wants to win the Olympic Marathon in Beijing. And he hopes to run a sub-2:04 marathon at some point as well. Perhaps not in hot and humid Beijing, but maybe in Dubai in January. He’s certainly got the credentials to make those claims and it will be fun to watch him do it.

Return of a champion
Perhaps one of the greatest moments of the year for me was watching the return of Paula Radcliffe to the sport of marathon running. Paula is simply astonishing at the marathon distance. Having taken off almost two years from competitive running, the question would be not IF she would return, but how long it would take her to get back to her former form.

The answer came in the ING New York City Marathon, where Paula almost turned the race into a solo time-trial. She had the company of Gete Wami every step of the race, but make no mistake: Paula led from the starting line to the finish. Wami was just hanging on, perhaps hoping that the returning champion might have some chinks in her late marathon armor. She didn’t.

In the closing miles of the race, Paula seemed to back off the pace a little bit. She explained later that she was being conservative, so that she would have something to counter a last-ditch attack by Wami. Wami most likely thought that Paula was fading, so she made a break for it just after the 800M-to-go banners. Radcliffe answered by pounding her foot onto the gas and leaving Wami in her dust. It was perhaps the most electrifying moment of the year. As the great champion made her comeback, we are reminded that in her eight marathon starts, she has won seven of them.

Great running at the Ironman
One more piece of amazing marathon running came in the Ironman World Championships this past October. It was an exceptionally hot year for the race and two strong runners left the field in their dust: Chris McCormack and Chrissie Wellington.

McCormack has long been known for his running prowess, but it was Wellington that really stood out for me. After running a 3:21:00 marathon in 122 degree heat at Ironman Korea, she was able to pull out a 2:59:58 marathon in Kona to take the women’s victory. As a newcomer to the sport, she shows amazing promise, being able to run a marathon that quickly, at the end of an Ironman, in those kind of temperatures. Watch out for her next year.

Lots of good
So 2007 was a year of amazing performances from debutants and veterans. This year had everything that we could ask for in the “good” camp. These were the moments that made us stand up and cheer and put smiles on our faces.

But there were some not-so-good moments as well. Tomorrow we look back at the bad moments of the year, and then we look at the truly ugly moments – the ones that we wish we could forget.

Right now, let’s just savor the good and leave it at that.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
for Running Advice and News (www.running-advice.com)

Copyright 2007 Joe English

Related articles:
2007 London Marathon

US Olympic Marathon Men’s Trials

Wanjiru golden in Fukuoka Debut

Gebrselassie smashes world record in Berlin Marathon

Radcliffe dominates ING New York City Marathon

McCormack and Wellington win Ironman World Championships

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Races: London Marathon announces 2008 Men’s Elite Field

UPDATE: Live broadcast information for the Flora London Marathon is available by clicking here.

UPDATE: For more London Marathon pre-race coverage, click here.

The London Marathon has annouced it’s men’s elite field for the 2008 running. Defending champion Martin Lel will return in April in a bid to try to win his third Flora London Marathon in four years. Lel returns to London after winning the New York City Marathon in November. After the New York victory, the 29-year-old Kenyan became the first man ever to win the London and New York marathons in the same year.

Martin Lel 2005 London Marathon
Photo: Martin Lel wins the 2005 London Marathon

Winning in 2005 and again last year, Lel would become only the third man to win three London Marathons if he could win there again. The race will take place April 13th, 2008. Only Mexico’s Dionicio Ceron, between 1994 and 1996, and Portugal’s Antonio Pinto, in 1992, 1997 and 2000, have won the London race three times since it was first held in 1981.

“I am very pleased to be able to defend my title”, said Lel, who also finished runner-up in London in 2006. “I am training hard to make sure I am in top shape for my bid to win a third time. I know it will be tough but I love running in London and am confident I can win again”.

Lel will face some stiff competition next April. The field is packed with some of the greatest marathon runners in the world including the Olympic 2004 Athens champion Stefano Baldini of Italy and World Champion Luke Kibet of Kenya. They’ll be joined by the former world record holder, Paul Tergat, the second fastest man ever; his fellow-Kenyan Felix Limo, the 2006 London Marathon champion; and Morocco’s former double World Champion Jaouad Gharib.

“I believe this is one of the best fields we’ve ever assembled”, commented Flora London Marathon Race Director, David Bedford. “But it will not be easy for him as the opposition is of the highest quality and many of these stars will be hoping to prove their fitness before the Olympic Games in Beijing”.

Among the other runners capable of stopping Lel in his tracks are Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai, the world’s second fastest marathon runner in 2007; Abderrahim Goumri, the Moroccan who was second last year; South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala, the 2004 New York champion who’ll be making his seventh London appearance; Aleksey Sokolov, the Russian who broke his national record to win the 2007 Dublin Marathon in October; and Yonas Kifle, the Eritrean record holder.

Haile Gebrselassie will not be running in London, as he is chasing a title at the Dubai Marathon early next year. Winning in Dubai would mean a $250,000 prize and there is $1 million more on tap if he sets a world-record.

2008 London Marathon Elite Men’s Field (personal bests in brackets)
Paul Tergat (Kenya) 2:04:55
Felix Limo (Kenya) 2:06:14
Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:06:29
Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:06:41
Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) 2:06:55
Jaouad Gharib (Morroco) 2:07:02
Stefano Baldini (ITA) 2:07:22
Yonas Kifle (Eritrea) 2:07:34
Abderrahim Goumri (Morocco) 2:07:44
Luke Kibet (Kenya) 2:08:52
Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) 2:09:07

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
for Running Advice and News (www.running-advice.com)

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Races: Concerns over Honolulu Marathon timing problems widen

Earlier this week we reported here that the timing system at the Honolulu Marathon may have resulted incorrect times for thousands of runners. Now as the story is widening, it appears that the timing problems were much more wide-spread and the story is beginning to have ramifications with other races as well.

The Honolulu Adviser is now reporting that Honolulu Marathon officials now believe that all of the times captured by their new timing system may have been innaccurate. After reviewing a small amount of finish-line video, Honolulu Marathon Association president Dr. Jim Barahal was quoted as saying that all of the times were off by from a few to as many as 70 seconds. In addition, the Adviser reported that as many as 3,500 more runners completed the race than the system had initially reported.

Honolulu switched from the ChampionChip timing system this year to a new system by SAI Timing. Heavy rains may have caused genertors to fail just prior to the race, resulting in a reset of the system.

Baharal was quoted as expressing concern over the large disparity in traditional drop-out rates when compared to this year. The race has since conducted an audit of finisher t-shirts and medals and determined that the timing system may have missed as many as 3,500 runners, bringing the true finish rate closer to traditional averages.

As the story in Honolulu continued to unfold, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Chevron Houston Marathon has now scuttled their plans to use the same new timing system as was used in Honolulu. Of the new system, Chervron Houston official Steven Karpas was quoted as saying, “. . .until we get a definitive answer as to what happened, we don’t feel comfortable with it.” Houston will now use return to use of the ChampionChip timing system.

The advantage of the SAI system is that it features disposable tags attached to the runners’ bibs. On race day, runners remove the tags from the bibs and attach them to their shoes as they would with conventional chips, then throw them away after the event. That means that runners no longer have to synch their chip to the timing system at pre-race packet pick-up, nor do they have to worry about returning a chip after the event.

“At the end of the day, this company, in my opinion, had no business offering this product for use and I’m extraordinarily disappointed,” Honolulu Marathon president Jim Barahal was quoted as saying after race.

SAI Systems says that the timing system worked well at the Las Vegas Marathon this month. Terry Collier, executive race director of the Las Vegas Marathon, who is also director of the Los Angeles Marathon said, “hands down it was a lot easier. My volunteers could focus on customer service.” Collier added that “I have not had one negative response about the new technology.”

However, a quick check of forums on the Internet found complaints from Las Vegas runners. As one runner wrote on MarathonGuide.com, “I also ha[d] issues with the new timing system that was used. My chip initially gave me a time of 4:11:00. No way was I that slow. My watch had me at 3:58:00. . . . I got a 10:56 split for mile 11 and a 7:41 split for mile 12?”

So for Honolulu Marathon organizers now comes the hard part: reviewing all of the finish-line video tape to correct their results, which may take up to 800 hours of work to complete.

Clearly timing is a critical issue to marathon runners. Not only for our personal edification, but for issues such as Boston Marathon qualification. Certainly when we runners put our best foot forward, we want the results to be properly recorded.

What do you think of this issue? Feel free to comment.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
for Running Advice and News (www.running-advice.com)

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