Monthly Archives: January 2013

Energy drinks and supplements blamed for London Marathon fatality

A coroner has ruled that 30yo Claire Squires death in the 2012 London Marathon is attributable to an energy drink she had consumed before the race.

A coroner has ruled that 30yo Claire Squires death in the 2012 London Marathon is attributable to an energy drink she had consumed before the race.

The safety of so called energy drinks and supplements have again been bought into question with a coroner ruling that one product likely contributed to the death of 30 year old Claire Squires in the 2012 Virgin London Marathon.


Source: The Independent

UK Coroner Philip Barlow stated that Squires ‘had taken a supplement containing DMAA which, on the balance of probabilities in combination with ­extreme physical exertion, caused acute cardiac failure which resulted in her death’.

DMAA has the chemical name methylhexanamine and is commonly known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine. It is traditionally sold as a diet, energy and body building supplement. It is believed that the DMAA was consumed by Squires in a product called Jack3d. DMAA is banned in many countries after links to a number of deaths by cardiac arrests, especially soldiers in the US Army.

Coroner Barlow added ‘My hope is that the coverage of this case and the events leading up to Claire’s death will help publicise the potentially harmful effects of DMAA during extreme –exertion.

‘She was obviously a very dedicated and well-motivated person. She died raising money for charity. I can only offer my condolences to all members of the family for a very tragic loss of an obviously dear person.’

Dr Jon van der Walt, who performed Squires’ post-mortem said that, on the ‘balance of probability’ based on his own examination of Squires and on evidence from the inquest, the cause of death had been a heart attack caused by ‘extreme physical exertion complicated by [DMAA]’.

Dr van de Walt added: ‘[Squires] had taken vigorous exercise over many years. I would regard that as a stress test: she has been able to do all this before, therefore it is unlikely that she had fatal arrhythmia.’

Have you ever used an energy supplement during your marathon preparation?


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London elite field announced – and wow, it’s elite

The 2012 Olympic Marathon podium will all be in London this year - along with the rest of the best of the men's marathon world

The 2012 Olympic Marathon podium will all be in London this year – along with the rest of the best of the men’s marathon world

We said in our 2013 elite marathon schedule preview that the year of an Olympics is always hard to follow in terms of spectacle. For the 2013 Virgin London Marathon it was always going to be a big ask to back up after hosting the Olympics, but wow, have they answered the call in the most spectacular way with what is been called the best ever elite men’s field for a Marathon.

The race will feature 11 men who’ve completed the distance in under 2:06, all three medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games Marathon and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai Marathons and both the official and unofficial world record holders for the marathon distance.

The entrant list is like a who’s who of marathoning; London Olympic gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich, world record holder Patrick Makau (2:03:38), reigning World Marathon Majors champion and Boston 2:03:02 record holder Geoffrey Mutai , Olympic silver medallist Abel Kirui, 2012 Chicago marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede, 2012 Dubai winner Ayele Abshero (2:04:23) and former London winners Martin Lel (2:05:15) and Emmanuel Mutai (2:04:40).

200px-London_Marathon.svgFor first time organiser Hugh Brasher it is a reason to be excited.

“We’re delighted to welcome all three medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Marathon to this year’s Virgin London Marathon,” said Brasher.

“The Olympic stars will line up alongside the world’s best distance runners in what promises to be a remarkable battle between the strongest men’s field ever assembled for a marathon.

The women’s race, while not as star studded, is still impressive. 2012 gold and silver Olympic medallists Tiki Gelana and Priscah Jeptoo will be in the headlines along with prominent Kenyan’s Edna Kiplagat and Florence Kiplagat.

All eyes though will be on a marathon debutant. Three times Olympic gold medallist (5,000m – 2008, 10,000m – 2008/2012) Tirunesh Dibaba will be stepping up to the marathon distance for London. In addition to her Olympic glory she has a half-marathon PB of 1:07:35. It will certainly add spice to what is already an intriguing race.

If you have any interest in elite marathon running, be sure to set April 21 aside in your calendar – this is a more than worthy successor to the Olympic memories.


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Dubai Marathon race report

Two days before the 2013 Dubai Marathon, we wrote in our race preview that ‘While it will be an open race, that can often make for the most interesting – and if past performance indicates anything the course will do its part to make for a fast time’.

Debutant Lelisa Desisa crosses the line first in 2:04:45

Debutant Lelisa Desisa crosses the line first in 2:04:45

The course did not disappoint and we are still catching our breath – five finishers in the men’s race finished sub 2:05 and the winner of the race was again a relatively unknown Ethiopian on debut, and now already talking about a possible tilt at the world record in future races.

It took to the final 200 metres, but it was 23 year old Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa who had the kick at the end to win a sprint finish and cross the line in 2:04:45. Four more finishers crossed the line in the next eight seconds meaning for the first time in the history of the marathon there were five finishers under sub 2:05.

It was an all Ethiopian podium with Berhanu Shiferaw second in 2.04.48; compatriot Tadese Tola clocked a personal best 2.04.49 in third and yet another Ethiopian, Endeshaw Negesse, holding on for fourth in 2:04:5. Kenyan debutant Bernard Koech finished fifth with 2:04:53.

Desisa finished 22 seconds slower than last year’s time by Ayele Abshiro however there was talk of faster times after the race.

“I tried to push the pace at 38k,” said Desisa, “but the others responded strongly so I decided to wait until the end. I have a good sprint and I was confident that it would win me the race. I had aimed for 2:06 for my debut, but when I saw the time at the finish I was shocked. If I can find a similarly good course, and my coach agrees, maybe next time I can go for the world record.”

Although largely unknown his win is not surprising; he has a 27:18 10,000m personal best and multiple sub-60 half marathons with a 59:30PB.

Pre-race favourite Tirfi Tsegaye was in control all day

Pre-race favourite Tirfi Tsegaye was in control all day

Ethiopians took seven out of the first ten places with Kenya taking the other three. Kenya’s pre-race smokey was debutant Moses Masai, however he failed to challenge and finished 17th overall in 2:11:00.

The women’s race was a little more predictable with pre-race favourite, Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye, living up to the hype and winning in 2.21:19. There was talk of sub 2:20 pre-race but it was not to be.

“I came with two aims,” said Tsegaye, “to win, and to run under 2:20. I was determined to push in the second half of the race, but by that time, it had become very humid, and it was affecting me. So I’m happy to win, but unhappy I didn’t break 2:20. I’ll have to come back next year, and try again.”


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Dubai Marathon race preview

dublogoLast year’s Dubai Marathon set a cracking pace for the elite marathon year, with eight of the 20 fastest times of 2012 recorded in the UAE race. It caught people a little offguard and there were all indications that 2013 was going to serve up a spectacular encore.

It stil very well may, however some of that shine has rubbed off with neither the men’s or women’s champions returning to defend their titles compounded by the news late this week that two of the big names for the race have pulled out.

The second fastest man ever over the marathon distance, Kenya’s Moses Mosop who recorded 2:03:06 at Boston in 2011, was down to attend and attempt to win a race that has alluded him in previous attempts. However he joins fellow Kenyan and three time Virgin London Marathon and two time ING New York City Marathon winner, Martin Lel, and the defending men’s champion, Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero, stuck on the sidelines due to injuries.

That said, the lack of known names does not preclude the chance of further fast times – entering last year’s race very little was known of the top finishers, including Abshero who was debuting over the distance.

Kenya's Moses Masai will be going for the win in his marathon debut

Kenya’s Moses Masai will be going for the win in his marathon debut

Ethiopians Yemane Tsegay and David Yami will be trying to maintain their country’s dominant streak, both having raced last year and recorded sub 2:06:30. It will be difficult to pick a winner but others to keep an eye on will be debutant Kenyan Olympian Moses Masai, who ran twelfth in the London Olympics 10,000m race, and fellow Kenyan, 2011 Dubai winner, David Barmasai.

The race will be streamed live online with the winner taking $200,000 in prizemoney.

On the women’s side it again appears to be an open race with most talk surrounding 2:21:19 marathoner, Tirfi Tsegaye and another debutant in 67:58 half-marathoner Wude Ayalew.

While it will be an open race that can often make for the most interesting – and if past performance indicates anything the course will do it’s part to make for a fast time.

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Increasing speed through parkrun 5km

In attempt to increase my marathon speed, I raced my first ever parkrun 5km race

In attempt to increase my marathon speed, I raced my first ever parkrun 5km race

In an attempt to increase my speed, break up monotony and get a bit more racing in than marathons allow I made the aim this year to try and go sub-20:00 for 5km. Training so far has been going great with a much more focused schedule including much more intense speed work which has been fun in itself.

The first test came for me two weekends ago when I made the decision to get a baseline and race a 5km. Despite been a runner for more than 10 years I had never really raced a 5km race, I’d done a few 4km races when I started out and a number of 10km races but largely my racing was over the longer distances.

So it was I nervously decided to register to run my first ever parkrun race – and as an event I can give it a glowing endorsement.

Formed in the UK in 2004, Parkrun is a great initiative designed to get more people into running. They are weekly 5km races, free of charge, run by volunteers and with costs covered by sponsors now held at 155 locations around the world and run regularly by more than 12,000 runners.

I attended Albert Parkrun in Melbourne and despite having never attended before was met by a friendly group of organisers and fellow runners. There was just over 150 runners in attendance and after a short warm up and event briefing, we got underway at 8am.

My Garmin battery had gone flat so I raced naked which I am sure meant that I went out way too hard, but also meant that I was limited by my perceptions. I raced pretty hard and had to hang on at the end but managed to cross the line in 21:47 – a time that I was delighted with given I had no real expectations or awareness of my current fitness levels.

park_run_harrogateParkrun record times using a barcode system where you must pre-register and receive a barcode and then when you cross the finish line you receive a second barcode that is linked to your time. Both your registration barcode and finish time barcode are scanned and then results are upload to the website within a few hours.

I’ll now race this course a few more times over the coming months on my plan to go sub-20:00, but irrespective of whether I hit that target or not I’m glad I discovered parkrun and will be making sure I stay a regular in the community. The more I race the faster I will get and hopefully that added speed will come in handy when I do my next marathon.


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Happy Birthday Mary Keitany

Mary KeitanyCurrent women’s World Marathon Major champion, Mary Keitany, turns 31 today (18 January).

Keitany rose to prominence initially on the half-marathon stage,  winning the Sevilla Half in 2006 as her maiden win, and then taking a suite of victories over the following years. She won three half-marathon titles in 2007 and narrowly missed the World Half-Marathon Championship title in that year.

After not racing in 2008 due to pregnancy and childbirth, she bounced back to win the elusive World Half-Marathon World Champion title in 2009 in Birmingham and also won two further half-marathon’s before stepping up in distance for third place in the 2010 New York Marathon on debut.

2011 saw her storm on to the marathon world stage, preparing by setting the half-marathon world record of 1:05:50 in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon before taking the first of her two Virgin London Marathon titles. She followed up with a further third place in the 2011 New York Marathon.

Last year saw her again win the Virgin London Marathon in the fastest female marathon time of the year (2:18:37) and entered the 2012 London Olympics as an overwhelming favourite, but faded late and had to settle for fourth, 49 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana.

Keitany trains at the adidas camp in Iten and will likely remain a force in 2012, London likely to again be on her schedule, as long as it works in around the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.

Keitany winning the 2012 Virgin London Marathon

Keitany winning the 2012 Virgin London Marathon

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Full Boston elite field now announced

boston-marathon-logoFollowing earlier announcements of the return of the defending champs and of the Americans in the field, the full elite field was today confirmed by the Boston Athletic Association.

Joining defending champs Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherup will be a strong elite field, headlined by 2:03:06 Boston runner Moses Mosop (recognised PB 2:05:03). Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia has also returned who finished one place behind Mosop in 2011, recording 2:04:53 on the unofficial marathon course.

Last year’s runner-up Levy Matebo has also committed to racing, while there is a number of Olympic marathoners down to run including Americans Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezghi, Australian Jeffrey Hunt, Canadian Eric Gillis and the feel good story of the London Olympic marathon, Guor Marial from South Sudan.

Marial was granted refugee status in the U.S. after fleeing Sudan during the Civil War where eight of his siblings were killed. Marial, now a U.S. resident, went to high school in Concord, New Hampshire, and college at Iowa State. After qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but not yet having a country to run for, the International Olympic Committee honored him with entry to participate under the Olympic Flag.

Former Boston champion and former course-record-holder Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya also returns to the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and will be joined by the 2012 Eindhoven course-record-holder Dickson Chumba, also of Kenya. Additional talent from Ethiopia includes 2011 Los Angeles champion and course-record-holder Markos Geneti, 2012 Paris and Mumbai runner-up Raji Assefa and the 2012 Hamburg and 2011 Toronto winner Shami Abdullah Dawit.


Moses Mosop finished Boston in 2011 in the second fastest time ever, 2:03:06

Men (including marathon distance PBs inc Boston)
Moses Mosop (KEN) 2:03:06
Gebregziabher Gebremariam (ETH) 2:04:53
Markos Geneti (ETH) 2:04:54
Ryan Hall (USA) 2:04:58
Levy Matebo (KEN) 2:05:16
Shami Abdullah Dawit (ETH) 2:05:42
Dickson Chumba (KEN) 2:05:46
Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:05:52
Wesley Korir (KEN) 2:06:13
Raji Assefa (ETH) 2:06:24
Abdihakem Abdirahman (USA) 2:08:56
Mebrahtom Keflezighi (USA) 2:09:08
Jeffrey Hunt (AUS) 2:11:00
Jason Hartmann (USA) 2:11:06
Eric Gillis (CAN) 2:11:28
Fernando Cabada (USA) 2:11:53
Guor Marial (RSS) 2:12:55
Robin Watson (CAN) 2:13:37
Micah Kogo (KEN) debut
Lucas Rotich (KEN) debut

Women (including PBs)
Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 2:19:31
Meseret Hailu (ETH) 2:21:09
Mamitu Daska (ETH) 2:21:59
Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 2:22:04
Sharon Cherop (KEN) 2:22:39
Madai Pérez (MEX) 2:22:59
Alemitu Abera (ETH) 2:23:14
Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (UKR) 2:24:32
Kara Goucher (USA) 2:24:52
Shalane Flanagan (USA) 2:25:38
Ana Dulce Félix (POR) 2:25:40
Yolanda Caballero (COL) 2:26:17
Sabrina Mockenhaupt (GER) 2:26:21
Diana Chepkemoi (KEN) 2:26:53
Karolina Jarzynska (POL) 2:27:16
Serena Burla (USA) 2:28:27
Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (USA) 2:29:35
René Kalmer (RSA) 2:29:59
Diane Nukuri-Johnson (BDI) 2:30:13
Alissa McKaig (USA) 2:31:56

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Houston Marathon race report

Ethiopia's Bazu Worku takes his maiden marathon win at Houston

Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku takes his maiden marathon win at Houston

In freezing conditions Ethiopia again stated its dominance on Houston, winning the men’s and women’s marathon and half-marathon.

Pre-race favourite Bazu Worku was able to claim his maiden marathon title, crossing the line in 2:10:17. Despite having a PB almost five minutes faster, Worku was happy to record the win in rainy, cold conditions.

“I’m very happy I won.  The weather was not cooperating with us,” Worku told media after his win.

Emerging star Merima Mohammed narrowly missed the woman’s course record, the 20 year old winning in 2:23:37. In the challenging conditions she broke away from compatriot and main rival Buzunesh Deba at the 33km mark and never looked back, eventually winning by just under a minute. Mohammed missed the course record by just 23 seconds and was only 33 seconds off setting a new personal best.

Mohammed said to media after the race that she has plans to go faster.

“In the future, I would like to do much better, maybe into 2:18,” Mohammed said.

wethoustonBefore the race all eyes were on the men’s half-marathon field with a $50,000 incentive for a new world record. It turns out the sponsors ( money was never under any real threat, the weather leading the eventual winner, defending champion Feyisa Lelisa, breaking the tape in 1:01:54, three and a half minutes outside the world record.

“Since the weather was so bad, I just wanted to win,” said Lelisa.

The women’s half-marathon was won by Mamitu Daska in 1:09:53, more than two minutes ahead of second place finisher Caroline Kilel of Kenya.

More than 25,000 athletes raced either the marathon or half-marathon event on Sunday.

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Houston Marathon preview

houstonSunday will see the running of the 41st Chevron Houston Marathon, however more eyes may be on the Aramco half marathon than the full 26.2 with the offer a $50,000 bonus for a world record.

The men’s elite field for the marathon will be headlined by PB 2:05:25 runner, Bazu Worku from Ethiopia. 2012 second place finisher and Ethipoian compatriot, Debebe Tolosa (2:07:41), will be the main challenger.

It is a stellar elite field for the half marathon though, with the fourth fastest half-marathoner of all time, 22-year-old Ethiopian Atsedu Tsegay Tesfaye headlining the field. He has a PB of 58:47 in March last year and will be going hard to run down Zersenay Tadese’s 58:23 set in 2010.

Challenging both Tesfaye and the world record will be a competitive field including one of America’s favourite distance runners, Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi, 2:05:37 marathoner Kenyan Wilson Erupe and defending champ Feyisa Lilesa (59:22). Keflezighi recently announced he will be running this year’s Boston Marathon.

The other interesting race should be in the women’s elite marathon where Ethiopia looks strong in the female fields also. There appears a good chance of a head to head battle between two strong runners starting with 2011 New York runner up Buzunesh Deba who has a PB of 2:23:19 who is likely to be challenged by 20 year old emerging star Merima Mohammed who recorded 2:23:06 as a teenager.

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Book review: The Secret Race

secret-raceIt might seem strange to review what is largely a book about cycling by a cyclist on a marathon running website. However Tyler Hamilton’s The Secret Race is much more than a book just about cycling – it is a book about EPO, steroids and blood doping in professional sport and how athletes outsmart the testers.

While there have been very few cases of marathon runners testing positive for drugs, it would be naive to think that the sport is entirely pure. A read of The Secret Race details how Hamilton, and his more famous teammate Lance Armstrong, beat the system and used the best doctors to ensure their doping techniques remained undetectable.

From the cloak and dagger of secret phones through to modifying the choice, dose and administration method of drugs, Hamilton shows how largely the entire peloton was using some sort of illegal boost to improve their performance. Athletes knew their red blood counts and hematacrit levels better than you or I probably know our weight, they owned their own centrifuges to do blood tests and banked their own enhanced blood to be transfused back into their veins in the midst of a Grand Tour race.

The book is refreshing in the openness that it describes how the process occurred and the attitude of the athletes involved. It also reveals the naivety or purposeful ignorance of the professional body to address the issue of doping within the sport.

The IAAF undoubtedly has a better reputation on the matter of drugs than UCI, however for anyone interested in the life of a professional athlete I can highly recommend The Secret Race.

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