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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Strides: the news of the week


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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Berlin will see fastest ever runners go head to head

Patrick Makau set the marathon world record (2:03:38) at Berlin in 2011.

Patrick Makau set the marathon world record (2:03:38) at Berlin in 2011.

The BMW Berlin marathon has announced that this year’s race will see the two official fastest marathon runners of all time going head to head at their event on 29 September.

Kenyans Patrick Makau and Wilson Kipsang ran 2:03:38 and 2:03:42 respectively in 2011 to set the two fastest times officially recorded. Makau set the benchmark at the Berlin event while Kipsang pushed it to the brink only weeks later, also in Germany at the Frankfurt marathon.

Last year’s race also saw the fastest marathon time anywhere in the world in 2012 run by winner, Geoffrey Mutai (2:04:15) and the fastest ever marathon debut by countryman Dennis Kimetto (2:04:16).

Mutai is the fastest man to cover the marathon distance, running 2:03:02 at the 2011 Boston Marathon, however this is not an official record due to the difference in elevation being greater than 1 metre per kilometre between the start and finish.

Kenyan marathon runners have faced some criticism for electing not to run the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Moscow, with critics claiming runners agents are putting prize-money from the Marathon Majors ahead of the world title. Neither Makau nor Kipsang are running at Moscow, although Kipsang placed third in the 2012 London Olympics.

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IAAF World Championships preview

moscowlogoWe’re one week out from the opening of the 2013 IAAF World Championships and the eyes of the athletics world are set to descend upon Moscow.

It’s a big ask to follow up the success and highlights of the 2012 London Olympics, but someone has to do it and Moscow outbid Barcelona and Brisbane for the opportunity. So what does it have in st ore from a marathon perspective? Well let’s just say the vibe so far isn’t exactly great…

We’ll begin with one thing we know – the course. The route will start and finish in the centrepiece of the championships, the Luzhniki Stadium, with the first 600m and final 300m run on the track at the stadium. The distance in between is run through central Moscow, along the banks of the Moskva River. It is essentially four laps from Luzhniki Stadium up to the Kremlin and back, although the first lap is shorter with a turn at 6.25km while the other three laps are 10km each (5km each way). A course map is pictured below.

The 2013 World Championship marathon course.

The 2013 World Championship marathon course.

While that may sound picturesque, the course has received some criticism with former Kenyan Olympian Kipchoge Keino describing the course to marathon commentator Toni Reavis as ‘a glorified time trial’. Keino goes on to say  a ‘5K up and down the Moscow River six times, and this is the best you can do for the sport?   There are no real hills or turns to use to try to escape the competition.  They just compress 42 kilometers into a four mile area so they can pack the crowds and make them look big’.

The timing of the event has also raised eyebrows, with the women’s marathon starting at 2pm local time and the men’s event at 3.30pm. The current long range forecast has the temperature for the two races sitting at 31C/88F and 30C/86F. By starting at this time it is likely the races will be at the hottest parts of the day. This is certainly going to take a toll on the runners. It has been speculated that the reason for the time is to satisfy the Japanese TV rights holders whose sole interest in the event is the two marathon races.

In terms of actual athletes who are running, there are a number of big names missing in both events. Although we are still awaiting a complete list of entrants for the two events, the short priced men’s favourite in my eyes would have to be a battle out of Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich and London 2013 winner, Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede (2:04:38), however Ethiopia has three other runners also with PB’s under 2:05. The Kenyans are led by Bernard Koech (2:04:53) who has run the fastest half-marathon in the world this year, and teamed up with Michael Kipyego, Bernard Kipyego, Nichola Kipkemboi, and my favourite of the Kenyans, Paris Marathon winner Peter Some.

The Kenyans have stated that they will need to run as a team and have a very tactical race if they are to challenge the Ethipioans and retain the title won by Abel Kirui in 2011.

On the women’s side it is again the Ethiopians that look strongest, led by Boston marathon winner Lelisa Desisa, although defending champion, Kenyan Edna Kiplagat is racing and will be in the mix to defend her title.

Given the headline news major marathons have had lately with Boston and New York, I think we all just want the racing to start and let a new legend of the sport emerge.

Who is your pick for the word titles?

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Fast runner, slow learner

So my running pace and race times have been off the charts in recent times, having recorded three PB’s over 5km, half marathon and 30km in the last three weeks. It seems though as my times improve I still make rookie mistakes!

My latest effort occurred yesterday on way to completing a 30km race.

On the way to a PB in a 30km race, a week after my half marathon PB and three weeks before my next marathon.

On the way to a PB in a 30km race, a week after my half marathon PB and three weeks before my next marathon.

My running form was good, my nutrition was good, I stretched afterwards, I was a text book runner. Except for this:


Chafing. Ouch.

Chafing. Ouch.

I forgot to apply any Body Glide or equivalent anti-chafe cream before my run. Today, the day after my race, although my legs are a bit sore, the most pain goes to under my right armpit. It’s an impressive wound but one I would rather not have and could easily avoid. Certainly no applying deodorant today, but certainly a good reminder to apply anti-chafe before my marathon!

At least yesterday I managed to avoid the most horrid of male marathon injuries – the bloody red streaks down the front of the shirt from when friction battles a nipple and wins.

I wondered why people were looking at me funny...

I wondered why people were looking at me funny…

This one is of me after a 20km training run in freezing weather, wind, rain, hail and I think even snow at points. I was on holiday and got back to the hotel and asked for my room key and wondered why the hotel employee was looking at me weird. It was only when I turned around and saw myself in a mirror that I realised why!

It seems that as I get faster I am still a slow learner on simple precautions to avoidable issues. What war stories do you have?

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New York facing challenges behind the scenes

Runners are hoping for better news in the 2013 ING NYC marathon.

Runners are hoping for better news in the 2013 ING NYC marathon.

We’re still four months away from a foot pounding Central Park in anger, but the 2013 ING New York City Marathon is already facing challenges behind the scenes. Fresh off the cancellation mismanagement in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year, news is now surfacing that the race will be searching for a new naming rights sponsor and is struggling to fill charity entry allocations.

Following a decision to rebrand and move away from it’s Netherland parent-company, ING US will not renew it’s naming night sponsorship of New York and will withdraw from long distance running sponsorships in the USA, including races in Miami and Connecticut. They have been the primary sponsor of NYC since 2003. The New York Road Runners (NYRR) are reportedly seeking $10m a year for naming rights.

In another blow, it has surfaced that half of the more than 8,000 spots allocated for runners raising money for charities are not filled. It is speculated that the low uptake may be due to the mismanagement of last year’s race, fear following the Boston Marathon bombing in April and the fact that NYRR were behind schedule in allocating the charity spots, doing so only eight weeks ago.

The marathoning community, especially in the US, could certainly use a boost following the issues surrounding both Boston and New York so we hope that these are just minor glitches on the way to restoring the NYC Marathon back to its prestige of been the most desired race for marathoners.

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Will Prince George run a marathon?

The modern marathon distance was set in 1908, to start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the Royal Box at the Olympic Stadium.

The modern marathon distance was set in 1908, to start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the Royal Box at the Olympic Stadium.

So it feels as though the entire world is caught up in Royal Baby fever following the birth of the new British prince, George, to William and Kate. But what are the odds that he’ll ever run a marathon?

Well if past form is any prediction the odds aren’t as good as you’d expect.

The marathon has a close affinity to the Royal family historically, as it was at the 1908 London Olympics that the modern day length of 26.2 miles was set so that the monarch was able to have the race start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the Royal Box at the Olympic Stadium.

Despite the fact that we have them to blame for making us run further (the Olympic marathon prior to 1908 was 25 miles) you might be surprised to hear only one royal has ever competed in a marathon – and it was a princess only three years ago!

Despite finishing in 5 hours, 15 minutes and 57 seconds, Princess Beatrice managed to set a world record when she took part in the 2010 Virgin London Marathon. Her finish came as part of a 34 person ‘human caterpillar’ and set the Guinness World Record for the m0st number of marathon runners tied together.

That said, the chances still remain slim for George. Despite his Great Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II having ruled for 60 years and having had the London Marathon run past her palace each of those years, it is reported that she has never once actually seen any of the race. Maybe we should send a pair of little running shoes to encourage him on his way…

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Back up and running

Well after a few month’s absence Marathon Intervals is back up and running!

The absence has purely been due to a workload issue and certainly not a lack of interest in running, either by myself personally or the in the elite marathon world. I watched the classic race at London with interest and, like many, struggled to grasp with the shock of what happened at Boston.

The excitement ahead lies with the World Championships in Moscow in less than a month – with an almost entirely fresh Kenyan squad taking the stage will they reverse their fortunes from the Olympics, or will this year’s London champ, Eithiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, give their rivals a win?

Personally I’ve just come off a 5km and half marathon PB in the last two weeks, meeting one of my New Year’s resolutions and going under 20 minutes for 5km. My focus now is on a marathon in four weeks and then my main race of the year, Melbourne Marathon in October.

Apologies for the delay and let’s get talking running!

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