Count ’em — just seven days remain until the New York City Marathon and, although we at RunnerPub aren’t racing, we’re plenty pumped to watch the drama unfold on the streets beneath our apartment window.
This year’s elite field has plenty of talent, and I’ll offer some thoughts here and later this week on this group of ridiculously fast men and women.
On the men’s side, defending champ Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea (who is apparently just 21!) is back. He stole the show last year with a blistering move in the Bronx, pulling away from Kenya’s Lucas Rotich in what had been his third marathon of the year (which deserves another exclamation point!). I got excited in recent days as this awesome photo appeared on the NYC subways:
While it’d certainly be fun to watch these two go at it again, Rotich won’t be back in New York this year. However, FEAR NOT — there’s still plenty of competition. In fact, there’s probably even better competition. Chief among them, most likely, is 2014 New York City Marathon champ, perhaps the second-most-decorated marathoner ever, Wilson Kipsang.
Loyal RunnerPub readers will surely recall Kipsang from this September’s Showdown in Berlin. He was one of the Big Three that were gunning for the world record (along with eventual winner Eliud Kipchoge and track G.O.A.T. Kenenisa Bekele). You’ll recall Kipsang dropped out at the 30-kilometer mark (about 18.6 miles). He later blamed it on stomach troubles. Still, it didn’t stop speculation from the truly running-obsessed that Kipsang realized the World Record wasn’t in the cards that cold and rainy day and kept his eye on the possibility of doing another fall marathon.
Well, it didn’t take long after that before Kipsang signed up for New York. In Kenya’s Daily Nation, Kipsang was recently quoted as saying he hasn’t missed a beat and may even attack Geoffrey Mutai‘s course record of 2:05:06:
The former world record holder also said that he immediately embarked on his training when he jetted back because he was in “top form.”
“I came back home and went on with the same programme and I felt I need to compete because I felt I was in top form. Berlin was just like training for me it’s only that I fell sick during the race,” added Kipsang. — Daily Nation, Oct. 12, 2017
Well, we here at RunnerPub aren’t going to question the man. Sure, he’s 35 years old (that alone is inspiring for us fellow trigenarians), but he has broken 2:04 more times (four) than anyone else in history, including back in February when he won the Tokyo Marathon in 2:03:58. And, of course, it’s worth pointing out he once OWNED the world record after winning Berlin in 2013 in 2:03:23.
So while Ghebreslassie is the defending champ, and can boast the younger legs, he’ll be more than fortunate if he can repeat the victory — let alone achieve even half the success of Kipsang over the coming, oh, 14 years.
Kipsang, of course, isn’t the only one standing in Ghebreslassie’s way. Among the other big challengers are Lelisa Desisa (two-time Boston Marathon champ who gained the city’s undying affection after he handed his 2013 victory medal back to Bostonians following the bombing that year) and Geoffrey Kamworor (a RunnerPub favorite ever since he won the 2016 World Half Marathon championships after getting trampled at the start line). Both of them have some great backstories, but I’ll save that for another day.
Here’s a Nike-produced video on Desisa, who says he learned a lot about proper training and fueling during the company’s Sub-Two push last spring:
And here’s the ridiculous footage of Kamworor’s victory in the 2016 World Half — his fall is at the start, roughly 20 minutes in:
There are, of course, some top Americans of note as well. There’s Abdi Abdirahman, the 40-year-old who last year came in a surprise third place. There’s Jared Ward, the 29-year-old statistics professor at BYU who came in a surprise sixth at the Rio Olympics marathon. And, of course, there’s the 42-year-old living legend himself, Meb Keflezighi, who won this race in 2009 and is making this year’s edition his farewell professional marathon.
Funny that Meb’s exactly twice as old as Ghebreslassie. What a sport this is. Anyway, I’ll leave you with the final minutes of Geb’s victory last November after he’d broken the race open around Mile 20 in the Bronx: