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2008 Flora London Predictions
by LetsRun.com
April 12, 2008

Exclusive London LetsRun.com Coverage Here

17 Minutes With Terrence Mahon

Predicting a marathon is impossible for a number of reasons. 1) Many guys don't race coming into a big marathon so there is no way to judge their fitness. 2) Even if they do race, what one does in a shorter race isn't all that significant for a marathon.

Thus you are basically left to analyze their past performances coupled with an educated guess as to how their training has been going based on incomplete race results or vague press conference statements.

This year, things are even harder because with the Kenyans it's hard to know how much the political instability in their country disrupted their training.

Women's Race - Adere or Wami?
The women's race is easier to handicap as in our minds one of two Ethiopian greats will win - Berhane Adere and Gete Wami. Wami got the best of an injured Adere last year in London in getting 2nd in London and then went on to have a great fall as she won Berlin and was 2nd to Radcliffe in NYC. We expect her good fortune to continue.

Adere struggled in London and then miraculously won in Chicago in the fall. Since then, she won the 2008 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:22:42, and then a month later beat Wami by seven seconds in Abu Dhabi. Based on the head to head victory, many are probably thinking we are going with Adere.


LRC Prediction - 1) Wami 2) Adere 3) Mikitenko. Wami is focused on this race. Adere already got her big pay-day.

Men's Race - So Many Options
We'll say one thing: The overseas bookies overseas have got it correct. On paper, Martin Lel and Sammy Wanjiru should be considered the favorites. Having won London and New York last year, Lel is the top current marathoner in the world.  Wanjiru is only 21 and arguable the greatest talent to ever come to the marathon, particularly in the prime of his career. He's the world record in the half-marathon and he won Fukuoka in 2:06:39 in his debut, garnering him LetsRun.com Sensation Status.

Who Will Win the 2008 London Marathon?
Ryan Hall 38.9%
Sammy Wanjiru 29.0%
Martin Lel 18.4%
Felix Limo 5.3%
Hendrick Ramaala 3.1%
Abderrahim Goumri 1.8%
Luke Kibet 1.4%
Other 1.1%
Deriba Merga 0.5%
Yonas Kifle 0.4%

Total Votes: 3634

America's hope Ryan Hall is rightfully generating a ton of buzz and he is the #1 choice picked by LetsRun.com visitors in our on-line poll. We love Hall, we want desperately for him to win but there is no way he can be considered the favorite.

People forget how good the Kenyans are. Admittedly, Hall has only run two marathons and the second won was on a challenging course but there are 11 Kenyans at the Rotterdam marathon this week alone with better PRs than Hall.. Rotterdam is the NIT; London is the NCAA. Hall has his hands full.

When you have to choose between a young Kenyan phenom and a young American phenom, intelligence says to go with the Kenyan. .

If Hall is a special once in a generation type talent for America, Wanjiru appears to be that way for Kenya.  

Wanjiru clearly would be our pick if we weren't worried that his buildup for this race was less than ideal. Consider this: When Wanjiru ran 59:26 in early February in a half-marathon, he admitted the violence in Kenya had greatly hindered his training.  How scary is that thought? He can run 59:26 with less than ideal training.  However, you can fake fitness a bit at the half-marathon distance but not the full marathon distance.

Look a minute at Wanjiru's training. He ran Fukuoka on somewhat limited marathon training on December 3rd.  Let's say he takes two down weeks. After two weeks down, he trains for just 7 weeks and he's running and winning a half marathon in 59:26.  And those seven weeks weren't seven weeks of great training as he admitted the violence in Kenya hampered him.  Then just 3.5 weeks later he's winning the world's richest half-marathon in 60.33. He's probably got to taper a bit for that as the payday is so big.  Now 6.5 weeks after that he's racing London. He probably had to start tapering two weeks ago.  Not a lot of time to really just train and pay proper respect to the 26.2 mile distance.

Lel probably should be the pick but asking someone to win three straight World Marathon Majors in this day and age of totally loaded Majors seems like a bit too much to ask. With the marathon, it's almost impossible to have it go right every time. The marathon by it's very nature is unpredictable. Lel  did a good job of getting away from the unrest in Kenya but going to Namibia to train, but changing one's environment isn't ideal.  He's sooner or later going to have a less than ideal race as he's due for a downer if he's human at all.

Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri is a real threat given his track credentials and his early success in the marathon.  He finished 2nd in sprint finishes to Lel at both Chicago and New York last year. We're not sure why, but Goumri  is being totally overlooked by most people (only 1.8% of the visitors have picked him).  The weird thing is, we agree with  the average LetsRun.com visitor. We arenít picking Goumri either. For some reason, picking a Moroccan to win just isn't sexy when we could pick a Kenyan or American sensation (Wanjiru and Hall) or the current marathon king (Lel).

LetsRun.com Predictions: For no particularly reason, we'll go with raw talent even if it hasn't necessarily properly trained.

LRC Picks: 1) Wanjiru 2) Lel 3) Hall
That being said, it wouldn't surprise us to see Wanjiru totally hit the wall.

Also note: what we predict and what we bet on are totally different. We've got a nice sum riding on Hall to get the win. Should keep things interesting at 5 am.

In our minds, Hall will run either totally amazing or have a total disaster as it's clear his expectations coming in are sky high. We don't anticipate a ho-hum 2:10 out of him.  Why? Because generally when an athlete goes into an event really expecting great things, they either do exactly that or totally bomb. If they go in with big expectations and find themselves just a little bit off,  then a subpar day can easily turn into a total disaster as it just wasn't expected.
Exclusive London LetsRun.com Coverage Here

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