Monthly Archives: August 2013

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
  • Japan’s citizen runner, Yuki Kawauchi, to run the New York
  • Team GBs Susan Partridge has renewed focus on Commonwealth Games after 10th place at the Moscow World
  • The heat and conditions of Rio will suit Australia’s Jess Trengove for Olympic Marathon in 2016 says coach
  • Kenyans describe the men’s marathon at Moscow as a ‘disaster’

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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.

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
  • Australia’s Jess Trengove now eying Glasgow Commonwealth Games after 11th place at World
  • South Africa’s Lusapho April pulls out of Men’s World Championship
  • Japanese women had varied expectations ahead of Women’s Championship
  • US veteran Kastor hoped to crack top 5 at World Championships
  • AFP profiled Japanese folk hero Yuki Kawauchi: Japan’s unsponsored marathon man eyes World title
  • The NYRR VP Peter Ciaccia says that 2013 ING NYC Marathon will have tighter security, 49,000 entrants, backup plan
  • 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!

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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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Edna Kiplagat becomes first woman to defend World Championship

Kenya's Edna Kiplagat celebrates after winning the 2013 World Championship

Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat celebrates after winning the 2013 World Championship

Despite a far from ideal preparation and travel to Moscow, Kenya has claimed some redemption from last years Olympics, with defending champion Edna Kiplagat becoming the first woman to retain her title.

On a hot and humid day, Kiplagat crossed the line in 2:25:44, kicking clear for the win at the 40km mark from Italy’s Valerio Straneo. Straneo had set the pace all day but couldn’t overcome Kiplagat’s spurt and settled for second 10 seconds later. It was the best performance by an Italian in a World Championship marathon. Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi claimed third in 2:27:44.

The highly fancied Ethiopian team failed dismally, with no runners in the top 10.

Edna Kiplaga breaks the tape to defend her world championship

Edna Kiplaga breaks the tape to defend her world championship

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Bizarre start to World Champs for Kenya’s marathon women

There will be no Kenyan trifecta in the 2013 Women's marathon.

There will be no Kenyan trifecta in the 2013 Women’s marathon.

Tomorrow will see the start of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, when the eyes of the athletics world will descend upon Moscow. One of two medal events on the first day is the Women’s marathon, and most punters would expect Kenya to be challenging for the medals after their podium clean sweep at Daegu in 2011. Before the starters gun has gone off we can say with certainty that there will be no Kenyan clean sweep this year.

Such a claim is not a prediction on form or a preference for runners from rival Ethiopia (although they will certainly be a factor) but rather it is a sad statement of fact with news that Kenya has right royally stuffed up the logistics of getting to Moscow, meaning two of their four competitors will toe the line.

The Kenyan Daily Nation reported that defending champion Edna Kiplagat and Lucy Kabuu will be the only two starters after Team Kenya’s flight to Moscow on Monday afternoon was cancelled due to lack of jet fuel and bizarre decisions saw half the squad not make the onward flight to Russia.

The paper reports:

Valentine Kipketer was left behind when the team left on Tuesday morning, while Margaret Akai was secretly axed from the team owing to an injury. Kipketer was left stranded, with no official from Athletics Kenya to sort out her travel issues as most of them had travelled to Moscow.

Kipketer, winner of the 2013 Mumbai Marathon in 2hrs, 24:20min, was left asleep at the Laico Regency Hotel when the team departed on Tuesday morning and was hoping to catch a flight to Moscow on Wednesday night.

However, the fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Wednesday morning left her stranded after all the incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled. Kipketer was eagerly awaiting communication from Emirate Airlines regarding her next flight.

What makes the decision even stranger is the pressure the Kenyan athletes are feeling to set the tone early and overcome the perceived failures from the 2012 London Olympics. Lucy Kabuu had earlier said to media that“It’s not just for the fact that we are under pressure to retain the title. I believe victory will set the ambience for the rest. It’s important that, being the openers, we do just that.”

The path to redemption just got that bit harder for the Kenyan powerhouse.


The Kenyan men’s team is set to fly to Moscow next Tuesday.

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If the World Championship was run to PB times…


In a completely hypothetical and largely pointless exercise, Marathon Intervals compiled the start list of the 2013 Men’s Marathon World Championship to be held in Moscow on August 17. Now while we know there is never going to be a race where everyone runs a PB, not to mention the impact that race tactics have on a major race such as the World Championships, we thought it would be fun to see where everyone would finish on their recorded best time. The results are about as predictable as you would.

Ethiopian runners hold the five fastest times by personal best, led by 2013 Virgin London Marathon winner Tsegay Kebede (2:04:38). The first non-Ethiopian runner is Kenya’s Bernard Koech in 2:04:53. Of the top 12 runners, only three countries are represented; Ethiopia (6), Kenya (5) and Morocco with Jaouad Gharib in 2:05:27.

2012 Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich slots into 14th fastest with his 2:07:20. Eritrea has three runners in the top 20 while Japan has all five of their representatives in the top 25.

The field consists of six runners who have gone under 2:05, a further three under 2:06, four under 2:07 and six runners who have run 2:08 flat or under. The slowest runner in the field by PB is Guatemala’s Jermias Saloj who has a best time of 2:16:56.

Of the 77 runners toeing the line at this stage, only 29 have gone under the 2:10. If you take out the strong Ethiopian contingent there is definitely a noticeable absence of some of the worlds best.

The full list of runners sorted by their personal records can be downloaded here

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