Where Your Dreams Become Reality
2008 NYC Media Day 2 (Wednesday): Jelena Prokopcuka Battling for Half a Million $$$$
Wami and Jelena
The Olympic Trials/NYC Marathon excitement is such that Wednesday was a quiet day in the press room despite featuring interviews with Jelena Prokopcuka, the two time defending NYC marathon champion, and her rival Geti Wami. Sunday afternoon either Propucekca or Wami will walk away with the first World Marathon Majors Title and a cool half a million dollars.
According to the World Marathon Major standings, Prokopcuka and Wami are currently the two best marathoners in the world. However, Catherine Ndereba and Paula Radcliffe are arguably the two greatest female marathoners ever to step foot on the planet. And both Ndereba and Radcliffe are racing Sunday in New York City versus Prokopcuka and Wami.
Regardless of whether one of them wins the race on Sunday, either Wami or Prokopcuka will be the biggest financial winner, walking away with $500,000 (for the various scoring scenarios in the World Marathon Majors, click here, basically Prokopcuka needs to win, or finish 2nd and have Wami 4th or worse, or finish 3rd and have Wami not in the top 5). Winning on Sunday will be a tall order for any of the female runners, as the field may be the strongest women's field every assembled outside of an Olympics or World Championships.
Look Where the Media
Go For Info
Prokopcuka has shown to be a master of the New York City course, having won the last 2 years. Last year she defeated Ndereba and Deena Kastor in a bizarre women's race when the field basically ignored her when she pulled ahead as they were more concerned about Ndereba and Kastor.
Prokopcuka said her NY victories have made her a star in her hometown of Latvia where she has been the sportsperson of the year the last 2 years. The ING NYC Marathon will be on live television in Latvia this year and Prokopcuka is hoping for the threepeat despite the presence of Ndereba and Radcliffe.
Prokopcuka said, "My preparation was good. I had a lot of really hard workouts. I had almost the same preparation as (I did) two years ago and one year ago. I feel I am good shape and want to win the third time."
Paula's Presence Changes Things
Prokopcuka did indicate she would not go out at a suicidal pace. As she told the NYRR, "If Paula goes faster than 1:10 for the half-marathon, I think I won't go with her because I think to go too fast in the first half is a bad idea. I think to run 2:20 on this course I am not prepared." (Margaret Okayo has the course record in NY in 2:22:31 from 2003)
Wami and Prokopcuka After $500,000
Prokopcuka said she did not give much thought to the World Marathon Majors win it was first announced, "When I first heard about it, I didn't take it seriously because it means you have to be in good shape for 2 years (in a row), but for me (that meant) 3 years (as she had already won NY the first time when the series was announced)."
Wami clearly has had her thoughts on the Marathon Majors title of late. Her win in Berlin put her in the lead of the standings and now she is trying to secure her title just a month later.
She is not too worried about doubling back, "In Berlin I didn't overstress myself. I was in good condition and I have recovered well. In some races we take the race as a practice run; not every race is run to win or to complete exhaustion. You never underestimate a race and you do run to win, but this race was not run to complete exhaustion."
American Darkhorses: Jason Hartmann, Clint Verran and Ryan Shay Address the Media, Pete Gilmore Sick
Darkhorses Jason Hartmann, Clint Verran and Ryan Shay addressed the media on Wednesday. (We have video of their press conference on the left and if you want a 1 on 1 interview with Ryan Shay click here (he talks about leaving being coached by Terernce Mahon where he didn't get enough 1 on 1 attention to going to Joe Vigil). The biggest news was perhaps that Pete Gilmore skipped the press conference because he is sick.
Clint Verran was coy about whether there were going to be any team tactics in the race on Saturday for his Brooks Team Hanson's team. But he was very positive on Brian Sell's chances at the Trials. "There's a good chance he's going to win the Olympic Trials"
We have quotes of the press conference from the NYRR below.
"I struggled last year at the Chicago Marathon, and the London Marathon this past spring didn't go very well. I've made adjustments since then—I moved down to sea level, and now I'm living in Eugene. I'm able to handle the workload better now, and I'm able to do more stuff at marathon pace."
"It's important for me to run my own race. I do the majority of training alone, so I have to listen to my body. If everyone goes out fast, I won't. I think the race doesn't begin until mile 22. For me, I'll run a smart race; I'll run inside myself and try to capitalize on other people's mistakes."
On training with Dathan Ritzenhein:
"Dathan and I are friends first before we are competitors. He's done what I aspire to do. For me, training with someone of his caliber is hard because it humbles me, but it also makes me better. If one of us runs well, both of us run well."
Ryan Shay (18 Minute Video Here)
"I've had a few downs—since 2004, I've had injuries here and there, but I've come back and I've been able to get in the training that I feel I need. Thinking back now, missing a little bit of time because of injuries could have actually been a blessing in disguise because it gave me a mental break. This is the best U.S. marathon field we've had in a long time, but I guess that's why you run the race—to see who has it in the end."
"One approach is to run in the top pack and try to stick there throughout the entire race, and the second way is to run inside yourself and then try to catch up to the front. For me, I'm going with the second mentality. I'm going to try to stay relaxed for as long as possible until I decide to race. To think that I'm going to run stride-for-stride with guys who have run three- or four-minute PRs that are faster than mine is unrealistic."
"When you take 11th place, then fifth place at the Trials, you want to do better than fifth. And the only thing better than fifth is fourth, third, second, and first. You can call us dark horses, but if you finish like people may think you might not finish at all."
"The marathon is really uncertain. It's a long race where you can make a lot of mistakes—there are 26 opportunities to make mistakes in the marathon. A lot of times you can place pretty high just by doing things right."
On the Trials course:
"I look forward to it. You can choose to have one of two mentalities: Victim or opportunist. There's 10 heartbreak hills on the course, and I look at it as an opportunity. I'll wait until someone makes a mistake and then I'll make my move."
"I enjoy that there was more pressure on Ryan and I in 2004. You get nervous enough without being a favorite. To be somebody that nobody is expecting serves as a bit of a motivator. I don't take offense to being called a dark horse—I'm motivated by it."
"I don't think it's anybody's strategy to go wire-to-wire."
On his fellow Hansons-Brooks qualifiers:
"This is probably the first time in Trials history that we have 13 guys from the same team. In other sports, there's big-time team tactics. The tough thing with the marathon is most of us have been training the whole year for this. A lot of us have given up running spring marathons because of it. It would be hard for one of our second-tier guys to sacrifice his race for another."