Category Archives: News

2020 Olympics could propel Japanese to marathon greatness

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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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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

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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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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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Analysis of Women’s World Championship

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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.

UPDATE: KIPKETER DID EVENTUALLY GET TO MOSCOW AND TOED THE STARTING LINE.

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…

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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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Strides: the news of the week

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

  • Coach and legend Alberto Salazar says that Mo Farah won’t be turning back on track, could run 5,000m/10,000m/marathon triple at Rio ow.ly/nCuY9
  • The field for 2014 Boston Marathon will have 9000 additional slots ow.ly/nBTs
  • Registrations are now  open for the 2014 Dubai Marathon – site of the fastest race this year ow.ly/20EQck
  • Kenyan athletes the most tested for doping by  IAAF ow.ly/nu72c

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