Tag Archives: marathon

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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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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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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Kimetto wins Tokyo Marathon

Kenya's Denis Kimetto wins the 2013 Tokyo Marathon in course record 2:06:50.

Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto wins the 2013 Tokyo Marathon in course record 2:06:50.

Berlin runner up and the fastest man to never win a marathon, Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto, can now remove that caveat after winning the 2013 Tokyo Marathon in a new course record 2:06:50.

Kimetto was the strong pre-race favourite in the best field ever assembled for a Tokyo Marathon, a reflection of its upgraded status to a World Marathon Major. Known as a strong finisher, Kimetto hung with the lead pack through halfway in a modest 64:22 until putting in surges of 14:20 for the 5km between 30 and 35km and 14:35 to cover 35km to 40km mark.

He was followed by compatriot Michael Kipyego and had a six second gap at that mark, but Kimetto then kicked to cover the last 2.195km in 6:34 and break the course record by 33 seconds. Kipyego, the 2012 winner, also snuck in the course record finishing in 2:06:58. The Kenyan trifecta was completed when Bernard Kipyego crossed in third (2:07:53).

tokyorace13aKimetto, who will move to the top of the World Marathon Majors leader board with his win, now has his sights set on greater accomplishments.

‘Maybe I can go to the world championships or Berlin,’ Kimetto said.

‘Maybe if I go to Berlin, I can break the world record.’

The course record was even more impressive considering the race was held in blustery headwinds that affected many of the runners.

On the women’s side it was Ethiopia who claimed bragging rights, with Aberu Kebede crossing first in 2:25:34 and compatriot Yeshi Esayias second in 2:26:01. The fastest female in the field, Germany’s Irina Mikitenko crossed third in 2:26:41.


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Tokyo Marathon race preview

How do you follow up a marathon debut that netted you the second fastest time of 2012 over the distance? For Kenya’s Denis Kimetto the aim is to ensure that even if the time is not faster, he moves up from second to first and wins his first marathon at this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon.

Kimetto has run the fastest marathon not to win and aims to change that in Tokyo.

Kimetto has run the fastest marathon not to win and aims to change that in Tokyo.

Kimetto, who finished second behind mentor and countryman Geoffrey Mutai at last year’s Berlin Marathon, is the headline runner as Tokyo makes its debut as an official World Marathon Major. He came under some criticism for not challenging Mutai for the win at Berlin, however at Tokyo crossing the line first will be his number one focus.

‘After my debut in Berlin, it is time I go on my own and Tokyo is ideal for me. I want to win a marathon and build on it as I start my career in the discipline,’ Kimetto said.

‘It will not be easy because, Mutai will not be running with me. He has been a mentor and father figure to me. I started training under him and we have remained together.

‘I know I have a lot of challenge ahead for me in Tokyo. My time in Berlin last year was great, we were eying the world record (2:03.38) but we were not up to the task.

‘But I have a statement to make in Tokyo and depending on the weather, we will see how fast it will be,” Kimetto added.

Alongside Kipruto, there will be defending men champion Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (2:06:48), 2:04:27 runner James Kwambai and 2:04:56 finisher Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo.

Other hopefuls include  Eric Ndiema (2:06:07), Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (2:06:14) and Daniel Njenga (2:06:16), Bernard Kiprop Kipyego (2:06:29), Japan based Josephat Ndambiri (2:07:36) and Gideon Kipketer (2:08:14).

The race will also double as a qualification opportunity for many Japanese runners hoping to head to the World Championships in Moscow later this year.

Arata Fujiwara, Kazuhiro Maeda and Takayuki Matsumiya – who finished second, sixth, and seventh respectively last year – return to Tokyo in an attempt to qualify for the IAAF World Championships. Yoshinori Oda, who finished fourth two years ago, will also be in contention for selection, but perhaps the most promising domestic runners are Masato Imai and Yuki Sato.

tokyoexpoImai’s best time is 2:10:32, but his aggressive racing style has attracted a lot of praise, while Sato is the most anticipated Marathon debutante in years. His 10,000m best, 27:38.25 is the fastest among active Japanese runners.

On the women’s front, German Irina Mikitenko boasts the fastest PB of the field with her 2:19:19 from 2008 but the Ethiopian duo Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede, who both recorded PBs of 2:20:30 last year, are the favourites.

Bekele won the Dubai Marathon back in 2009 but set her PB in last year’s edition of the race when finishing fourth. Kebede finished just three seconds behind her on that occasion, but later in 2012 she matched Bekele’s PB (2:20:30) when winning the Berlin Marathon – her second victory in the German capital, having also won there in 2010.

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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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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 (marathonguide.com) 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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