Where Your Dreams Become Reality
2008 Boston Marathon Men's Recap: Robert Cheruiyot Destroys Field Gets 4th Title
Move over Bill Rodgers, make room for Robert Cheruiyot. The Boston marathon course record holder joined Rodgers as a 4-time winner in Boston today with a scintillating 2:07:46 performance.
After a leisurely opening two miles of 5:16 and 5:02, Cheruiyot decided it was time to run and boy did he run. Robert started pushing the pace shortly thereafter and he wouldn't relent until the finish line as the leisurely stroll quickly turned into a course record attempt. Any fears that doing all the work would hurt his chances to win slowly disappeared as elite man after elite man fell off the lead pack. At half-way (1:03:07), only six remained in contention and by 25k (15.53 miles) only five were in contention - Cheruiyot, Ethiopia's Kasime Adillo, Morocco's Abderrahime Bouramdane, and Kenya's James Mwangi Macharia and James Kwambai. By 30k, it was a one-man show after a ridiculous 4:37 19th mile dispatched the mortals.(Science of Sport blog notes that Cheruiyot ran from 5k to 30k at a pace that equals a 2:04:40 marathon).
Looking back at it, after the first two miles, Cheruiyot would run 17 miles in a row at 4:53 or better including a 4:38 16th mile and the ridiculous 4:37 19th mile that dropped the last of his challengers in Bouramdane for good. At 20 miles (1:36:10), Cheruiyot was on 2:06:04 pace, but the uphill 21st mile loomed. A 5:16 on that mile may have made some neophytes question whether he'd even hold on for the win, but one needs to realize that the hill is probably worth 13-14 seconds at a minimum. A 4:50 22nd mile eased those fears and Cheruiyot was now racing against himself and the clock - could he break his own course record?
Cheruiyot needed to average about 4:58 pace the last 4+ miles but was unable to stay on record pace all alone out front as he ran 5:00 or over on each of the last four miles.
Cheruiyot was all smiles when he crossed the finish line first as he raised his right fist and pumped it as he counted out 1-2-3-4 twice. A very well done and class celebration that recognized the history behind his 4th Boston win. He now is the first four-time Kenyan winner and he only trails Clarence DeMar who won 7 Bostons when it was strictly an amateur affair.
Cheruiyot the Best in the World?
Behind Cheruiyot in the somewhat watered down field ,Abderrahime Bouramdane held on for a deserved 2nd in 2:09:04. The third and fourth place finishers were guys that backed off the pace a bit early and didn't try to stick with Cheruiyot. Khalid El Boumlili was third in 2:10:35 and Gasha Asfaw was fourth in 2:10:47. Ethiopia's Kasime Adillo, who was one of the five brave runners who tried to stay with Cheruioyt through 25k, ended up fifth in 2:12:24 after a 69:17 2nd half. 2007 runner-up James Kwambai paid the price for being one of four to try to go with Cheruiyot as he staggered home 7th in 2:15:52. The other Kenyan who was with Cheruiyot at 25k, James Mwangi Macharia did not finish.
To see how the others struggled so mightily in the 2nd half after the quick opening half makes one appreciate Cheruiyot's performance all the more.
Hardest Boston Win Yet
One thing on the back of Cheruiyot's mind was his desire to impress the Olympic selectors in Kenya with a fast time. Kenyan marathoning is so strong, the course in Boston so tough, and perhaps the field watered down enough, that a win in Boston is not a guarantee for Cheruiyot to be on the Olympic team. Cheruiyot noted that Athletics Kenya said before the race that at least one person from Boston would be selected for Beijing, but did not say necessarily that it would be a man. After Monday's performance it seems almost certain to us that Cheruiyot will be on the team, along with London champ Martin Lel and London runner-up Sammy Wanjiru.
Winning in the atrocious heat of Beijing will be a tall order, but Cheruiyot has won Boston under subpar conditions (cold and windy last year, which is quite different from the heat). Robert was confident he would do well if selected for Beijing, "I will produce a good race as I always do".
And believe it or not, Cheruiyot dispatched the Boston field while not being 100%. He told Track and Field News' Sean Hartnett after the race (Sean knows Cheruiyot personally) that he had come down with a mild case of malaria in the last couple of weeks. Truly unbelievable- we knew coming in Cheruiyot was way better than the rest of the field, but beating them with malaria is taking it to another level.
Clearly the hills of Boston suit Cheruiyot's running form best (although he has won on the flat Chicago course).He said afterwards, "The course is very tough... It is very difficult to explain but I enjoy running in the hills." Running on hills is a skill of all the great Boston champs, and Cheruiyot was pleased to join Bill Rodgers as a four time champ. "It is very great (to be in the company of the other 4 time champs)."
Moroccans Go 2-3
Third placer Khalid Boumlili ran perhaps the smartest race. He backed off the early pace around the half-way mark (he was 3 seconds adrift half-way), ran his own race from there, and managed to set a pb (his old pb was 2:10:49 in his debut in 2004). It also represented some personal vindication of sorts as Boumlili ran Boston three years ago and had to drop out.
Lance Talks About His First Boston:
Lance Armstrong Loves the Boston Fans And Wants to Do Two Marathons a Year
He went on to praise the Boston crowds even more, "Boston is a huge event in the world of marathoning. I hope to do at least two marathons per year. Boston was a pleasant surprise. I expected the crowds to be great but they were about ten times what I expected."
Boston could not get a better endorsement than that.
But ultimately we hope Boston does not rely on just its tradition and Lance Armstrong to keep its reputation. We want to see Boston step up its game and try and compete on a level playing field for the top marathoners in the world with London.
Robert Cheruiyot said it best himself, "It is very difficult when you are running alone. You can not run alone and run 2:07 in Boston. You need company."
We'd love to see what is possible on the Boston course if a field like London's is assembled, but we may have to keep dreaming. John Hancock's contract with Boston runs through 2018, although Boston did add corporate signage to the start and finish this year and this article from last year indicates John Hancock realizes it needs to bring in more partners if it wants to keep Boston competitive.