2:03:23 – new world record!

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang has kept to his word, overcome the lack of competition and smashed the marathon world record in today’s Berlin Marathon.

Kipsang crossed the line in 2:03:23, eclipsing the mark set by countryman Patrick Makau at the course in 2011.

Makau was scheduled to race at the event, however pulled out last week with knee issues. His pain won’t be eased by the fact that he has now lost his mantle as the fastest marathoner.

Another Kenyan, Geoffrey Mutai, has covered the marathon distance faster in 2:03:01, at the 2011 Boston Marathon, however is not recognised as an official world record due to the course requirements.

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2020 Olympics could propel Japanese to marathon greatness


A long time popular, Japanese marathon running is now in the midst of a golden age in terms of global competitiveness. The announcement this week that Tokyo was selected as the host city for the 2020 Olympics may see the nation of Ekiden and corporate runners challenge for global dominance.

Japan was extremely consistent in the marathons at the recent IAAF World Championships in Moscow. The Japanese men, although slightly disappointed not to win a medal, had four finishers in the top 20 with the best place fifth. The women also stayed very competitive, finishing third and fourth.

These results come on top of the fact that seven Japanese men have run under 2:10:00 this year alone and 11 women are listed in the fastest 80 marathon times so far this year, all under 2:28:00. There is depth there and although the top Japanese still remain a few minutes of the elites of Africa, the Olympic announcement may be the push they need to bridge that gap.

Studies have shown that hosting an Olympic Games has a significant increase on winning medals. There is a moderate increase in medal numbers for the Games preceeding, in this case Rio de Janeiro, but the real pay day comes when a country hosts the Games, winning 1.5 times the number of medals compared to the Games before or after, both of which are higher than the average medal tally.

Percentage of medals won at host city Games compared to two games pre and post. Source: Plus Magazine

Percentage of medals won at host city Games compared to two games pre and post. Source: Plus Magazine

If this statistic holds true for Tokyo, the marathon will likely be one of the events the Japanese will target to pick up medals. They surely have a good platform from which to launch. If nothing else, the passion and understanding of marathon running that is part of the Japanese psyche and culture will ensure that marathon in 2020 may be the memorable moment from those Olympic Games.

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Sydney and Hobart runs by a Melbourne lad

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

In this last week I have had the need to travel to both Sydney and Hobart for work. With the last big push for Melbourne Marathon underway I needed to run, but also the travel meant I could so without feeling bad for taking time away from the family to run so I managed to get some quality runs in. I must say though the difference in runs between the two cities was chalk and cheese.


I was in Sydney on Thursday and Friday last week and planned all along to manage to use this trip to replace my long run on the weekend (weekend was my only two days at home so didn’t think a 3 hour absence would go down well…) but at the same time I didn’t want to commit to doing 30km as it didn’t really fit into the timeslot I had so, so instead I ran 18km on Thursday evening and 26km on Friday morning.

Thursday’s run saw me run from the CBD over the bridge and around the northern beaches to Mosman and Neutral Bay. I thought I would be able to run along the harbour and enjoy the waterviews. Wrong. Due to the fact that the harbour on the northside is largely private property it meant running inland along roads with very few waterviews. Part of my disappointment was certainly due to my lack of pre-planning a route, but it was a pretty frustrating experience. It was a pretty hilly run in the end and when I got back to the hotel I saw it was 27 degrees which explained why it felt a bit harder than usual.

The second run was much more enjoyable, I ran from the CBD up Oxford St all the way to Bondi Beach and then back along the coast. This had a gradual incline on the way out until the beach and then a few hills on the way back but was a much more pleasant and scenic run. The killer on this one was the humidity, I got back to the hotel and was drenched. The legs certainly also felt the run from the day before.

Usually in Sydney I just run around Darling Harbour/Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, etc but knew that wasn’t going to get me the distance I needed for these runs.


On Monday and Tuesday work took me to Hobart and I came in thinking that despite having two runs planned, I was a bit run down and thought I would get one at the most. It turned out to be two of the most enjoyable runs in a while. On Monday afternoon I headed out of the city up to the Domain and discovered a trail called the Soldiers Memorial Walk. I had grown up in Tasmania but had never heard of this before and since found out it was upgraded after I had left.

This was a nice gravel trail up through parklands where originally the Hobart community had planted 510 trees for soldiers from Hobart killed in World War 1. The upgrades had seen plaques installed to commemorate the soldiers and told a short story of each of them, what unit they were in and where and how they were killed. The parklands were beautiful, I had uninterrupted views of the Derwent River and I literally had to watch my step for rosellas sitting on the side of the path at regular intervals. It was like an untouched world. The trail itself went for about 3km and then I followed some other paths up to a look out before returning via the Domain Athletics track for a few laps and then the gradual descent down the trail. All up I did a leisurely 12km and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

My second run in Hobart was again one that I had thought of skipping, but I woke early and saw it was a nice day out so instead pulled on the runners and did an interval session around the Cenotaph, Regatta Grounds and Domain. It was pretty peaceful and I was able to do 8x600m with 60 seconds rest in between and felt invigorated to start the day.

Pack you’re running gear when traveling

I wouldn’t really like to say I preferred one location over the other as they both offered great challenges and different benefits for running. The warmer weather in Sydney was a great reprieve from a Melbourne winter but the stillness and easy ability to escape to nature in Hobart was a true thing of beauty. Either way it reinforces to me that if I’m traveling for work the most important thing to pack is my running gear so that I can get out of the hotel room and truly explore the city I’m visiting in a way that many people can’t or don’t.

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Two weekends, two marathons?


Last weekend I ran the Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, Australia in blustery and challenging conditions and finished in a reasonable 3:45, although the last six kilometres were not the most pleasant. I was happy with that given my main focus remains on the Melbourne Marathon on October 13 and I had only done one run of 30km or more in the lead up to last weekends race; this run was essentially a training run for October.

I was concerned how I would pull up after the race, but Monday morning came around with nothing more than slightly heavy legs; stairs were fine, walking was ok and I made sure not to stay seated in the one position for too long. I stretched, wore compression tights to bed and hydrated plenty. So come Tuesday I was looking on a running forum and saw that another smaller, regional marathon was on this weekend. Surely not? Surely I wouldn’t be thinking of another run already? What would it mean for my Melbourne preparations?

Well, I thought about it. The main area I needed to focus on between now and Melbourne was building up endurance and getting in those 20 mile runs. I was going to be running this weekend anyway although I had only half marathon distance on my schedule but then 30km the next weekend. Why not change it up, run a back to back marathon and get another solid hitout in. 7 weeks out from Melbourne meant that this was a great time to be putting in the really long distance and still have time to recover and adapt for my main race.

Originally I thought I was pushing my luck doing two marathons in eight weeks. No training plan I have ever read recommends running the full marathon distance – in fact most are pretty strong in their direction not to run the full distance. They say the recovery will take too long and the risk for injury, illness and muscle damage is high. They may be right but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had done one marathon and recovered really well.

I waited to see how the week unfolded; a gentle run on Wednesday morning and the legs felt good. My interest piqued. Entry fees were much cheaper than normal marathons and the run was three laps of a 14km loop. This also worked in my favour; if I got to 28km into the race and felt atrocious I could simply pull out and not have to worry about getting to the finish line. Thursday morning I ran again, a conservative effort run but my pace was amazing. It was enough to sway me; I entered and now will be doing two marathons in seven days!

I will certainly be taking it easier this week and running conservatively, perhaps working towards achieving a negative split if I feel good at the end as opposed to blowing up.

I figure I may never get this opportunity to test myself in this way and say I have done it, and I remain convinced that it will help not hinder me come October. That remains my key race for the year so I don’t want to stuff that up, but the lure of this has drawn me in. I’ll never know if I don’t challenge myself and I can’t back down now.

Have you ever run the marathon distance in training for a race?


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Strides: 22 August

stridesWe regularly share news from the marathon world on the Marathon Intervals twitter stream; Strides is our weekly summary of those shares:

  • Heard of the Marathon Maniacs? Learn more from this interesting profile piece ow.ly/o9iVh
  • Japan’s citizen runner, Yuki Kawauchi, to run the New York Marathonow.ly/o7kCX
  • Team GBs Susan Partridge has renewed focus on Commonwealth Games after 10th place at the Moscow World Championshipsow.ly/o717l
  • The heat and conditions of Rio will suit Australia’s Jess Trengove for Olympic Marathon in 2016 says coach ow.ly/o70vY
  • Kenyans describe the men’s marathon at Moscow as a ‘disaster’ ow.ly/o70rG

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Stephen Kiprotich unquestionable champion


Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich has cemented his status in the marathon history elite and cemented his legacy, backing up his Olympic gold medal from London last year and overcoming a strong Ethiopian contingent to win the 2013 Marathon World Championship in Moscow.

Kiprotich ran out the race in 2:09:51, relatively pedestrian compared to the times seem at the World Marathon Majors, however while Kiprotich may never be the fastest marathoner in the world, in being only the second marathon runner to complete the Olympic/World Championship double, he has certainly earned the credentials as the premier tactical and championship racer.

The Ugandan was followed home by a trio of Ethiopians, Lelisa Desisa in 2:10:12, Tadese Tola in 2:10:23 and London Marathon winner Tsegay Kebede in 2:10:47.

Conditions were much more pleasant for the men than the women’s field faced a week ago, but again it was the 40 kilometre mark that proved the turning point of the race, first with Kiprotich and Desisa dropping Tola, and then Kiprotich found an extra gear to kick clear. He entered Luzhniki Stadium 100 metres ahead of Desisa and was never challenged.

On paper Kiprotich never seemed a real threat to repeat his Olympic success, having only the 14th fastest personal best out of the starters, his a full three minutes slower than most of the Ethiopians. As the Olympic and World Championships prove though, racing on a national team, without pace-setters and chasing a medal is a very different type of run to a major city marathon. With an Olympic Gold and World Champion title around his neck, Kiprotich is the current generation’s unquestionable big race champion.

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Music for my next marathon

A quick scan of many running forums or websites will reveal that (in the simplest of terms) there are two types of runners; those who listen to music when they run and those who don’t. The arguments can sometimes get a little bit irrational but essentially comes down to the added motivation from music versus the safety risk of having your sense of hearing blocked, meaning you may not be aware of passing runners, oncoming cars or the cloaked mugger with a switchblade sneaking up on you. I can understand both sides; I think if music is one thing that can get more people out running than otherwise would be then who am I to complain, but I also acknowledge the very real safety concerns.

Personally I do not listen to music when I run, for both the safety aspect but also that I like the chance to just clear my head and let my mind wander. That said though I love the extra pump up that music can bring and often I assemble a playlist for upcoming races.

Sunday morning will see me running the Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, Australia and here is a selection of the recent songs I will be playing in the car on the way to race:

  1. Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
  2. This Is What It Feels Like – Armin van Burren
  3. Fall Down – Will.I.Am (feat. Miley Cyrus)
  4. Not Giving In – Rudimental (featuring. John Newman & Alex Clare)
  5. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
  6. Alive – Empire of the Sun
  7. Hall Of Fame – The Script feat. will.i.am

The list may not be for everyone, but they are songs that have been stuck in my head during my training. I often listen to them while stretching and have mental association to the songs now with some really good runs. These are just my songs from the last few months, I like to keep it fresh but certainly have a nice collection of songs from over time that I can list to and associate with happy times.

Do you have any songs you currently like to use to pump you up?

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Strides: 15 August

stridesWe regularly share news from the marathon world on the Marathon Intervals twitter stream; Strides is our weekly summary of those shares:

  • Running Times say that Moscow is magic and becoming memorable ow.ly/nRVnP
  • Australia’s Jess Trengove now eying Glasgow Commonwealth Games after 11th place at World Championshipsow.ly/nRVdN
  • South Africa’s Lusapho April pulls out of Men’s World Championship marathonow.ly/nLvg8
  • Japanese women had varied expectations ahead of Women’s Championship Marathonow.ly/nLvBh
  • US veteran Kastor hoped to crack top 5 at World Championships  ow.ly/nJDXJ
  • AFP profiled Japanese folk hero Yuki Kawauchi: Japan’s unsponsored marathon man eyes World title ow.ly/nJDLA
  • The NYRR VP Peter Ciaccia says that 2013 ING NYC Marathon will have tighter security, 49,000 entrants, backup plan ow.ly/nFb3r
  • And, for good measure, although we don’t usually enjoy ‘marathon’ being used for races less than 26.2 miles – but the nappy marathon is very amusing! ow.ly/nFbmH

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Love my race number for my next marathon

bibThis Sunday I’ll be racing the Eat Fit Food Sandy Point Marathon in Melbourne, which will mean that Marathon Intervals coverage of the Men’s World Championship will be a little bit limited as sadly I should be fast asleep when that is on.

Apart from that though, I wanted to share what I think is one of the most appropriate bib numbers for the marathon distance; 42! I think the only way it could be better would be if it was 42195, or maybe 262 for those who prefer miles to kilometres. I’ve been in good form lately setting personal bests in 5km, half marathon and 30km in the last month.

Fingers crossed, I’ll be tacking my #42 bib on and able to continue the streak and will set a PB in what I see really as a preparation run for my main marathon, the Melbourne Marathon, on October 13.

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Analysis of Women’s World Championship


So Edna Kiplagat made history, retained her title, restored some Kenyan dominance and won the 2013 Women’s World Championship. But what were the other stories of the race?

Of 72 listed starters, 70 toed the line. The controversial 2pm local time start of the race, in the heat of the day with temperatures of 27C/81F as the gun went off, was always going to be factor and it undoubtedly was – only 46 of the 70 (65%) crossed the finished line. Admittedly this is not uncommon amongst professionals, who will often drop out and save themselves for another day but it is still worth noting.

Best performing country?

One thing that did become clear from this race was that women’s marathoning truly is a global sport and less prone to the African dominance seen in men’s racing.  There were only two countries to have two runners in the top 10; Japan in third and fourth, and Italy in second and sixth. The top 20 placegetters had representatives from 13 countries with the most dominant country in that list been North Korea, with three. To put that in perspective, there were more finishers from North Korea in the top 20 than from all of Africa!

American vet hangs up boots with top 10 finish

40 year old American Deena Kastor was thrilled with a top 10 finish (9th) in what she announced was her last competitive, high level marathon, admitting it was hard work saying “It was a torture, it was a hard race out there. I felt like I was trying to get those negative thoughts out, so it was a lot of mental work out there.”

Team GB has solid day

Great Britain’s Susan Partridge was one who used the heat to her advantage, saying “I started off and I was way back and for a minute I did wonder if I had been a little bit too cautious. It was just getting my rhythm going and I didn’t really think about the times or even paying attention to the kilometre markers. It was all about looking at the next person in front of me and trying to get past them and it was a proper race in that sense.” She went through halfway in 22nd but finished strong to cross the line in ninth. Compatriot Sonia Samuels finished in 16th.

Comments from the medalists:

Edna Kiplagat was thrilled with her result:

“I’m delighted I was able to defend my title successfully. I got confident I was going to win at the 40km mark when I upped my pace. I felt a bit tired at the start – my body did not react immediately. I just wanted to relax, prepare my body so I could pick up gradually.””

Surprise second place getter, Italian Valerio Straneo said:

“I’m feeling in a dream now! I knew [that Edna would win]…She is too strong. At 40km I had to let Edna go because I felt pain in the muscles of my legs. But I’m really comfortable with heat and so I was happy that today was warm. It was a dream and a surprise. Maybe tomorrow I will realize what I did!”

Bronze medalist, Japan’s Kayako Fukushi, also expressed surprise at her result:

“I didn’t realize I won the bronze until I entered the stadium! I thought somebody was behind me.”

Full results

The full results can be viewed at the IAAF website.




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