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2008 Flora London Marathon Women's Press Conference: The $250,000 and $500,000 Ethiopians Adere and Wami Set to Battle
Thursday the women took the center stage at the 2008 Flora London Marathon.
With Paula Radcliffe skipping London with a slight injury, the London's women race was bound to be a downer for the British public and the British press and that was definitely apparent on Thursday. While there were more press members present on Thursday than Wednesday (a lot of people can't get their employer to pay for too many days of a free vacation in London) there was only 1 TV crew present (from Japan) whereas on Wednesday there were multiple television crews.
Minus Paula, the race will go on on Sunday and it features a strong Ethiopian matchup.
$500,000 Wami and $250,000 Adere Headline
Adere's quarter million came in much easier fashion, by winning the world's richest marathon (at least in terms of prize money) the 2008 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:22:42. London is the best and most competitive marathon in the world and likely pays more total money than Dubai, but it is through the more traditional route of appearance fees (which are hidden to the public) and prize bonuses. So while in London several runners are paid six figures to show up, the winner of London officially "only" gets $55,000 - with a sub 2:22 worth another $50,000. More on the (unequal) prize money (the men get more than the women) at the bottom of this article
This was the first year Dubai offered a quarter million for its winner, so the field in Dubai was not as deep as it will be if it continues to offer a quarter million $$$ dollar prize. Nonetheless, the victory was a "major" one although the Marathon Majors would perhaps like to pretend Dubai does not exist (Adere's Dubai win isn't even listed as a victory in the "Other major city marathons" category in the London media guide).
Wami The Favorite
Like the British press, Wami wishes Radcliffe was here. She said she was "disappointed" Radcliffe wasn't here and said, "It's clear to everyone that this would be a much better competition if she was here." Of course that is true, but a win by Wami on Sunday may push her into the big 3 of women's marathoning (1) Radcliffe, 2) two time world champ and former World Record holder Catherine Ndereba (who is skipping the spring marathons to prepare for the Olympics), and 3) Japanese Olympic champ Mizuchi Noguchi.
Despite her recent success, Wami's pr is last year's 2:21:45 and her marathon success is still short of her track and cross country success (3 World XC titles, 3 Olympic medals, and 1 World 10,000m track title (1999)).
Wami was pleased with her preparations for London. She says developed a slight hamstring problem but that it wasn't too serious. She says she "recovered from that and (is) doing very well."
Adere - Healthy & Ready To Go
Adere has had a lot of success since she returned to the marathon in 2006 here in London after a disastrous first marathon in Rotterdam in 2001 of 2:41:50 so spooked her that she didn't race another marathon for nearly five years. Since giving the marathon a second chance, she has run 2:21:52 for 4th here in London, followed that up with a win in Chicago (2:20:42 national record), had her injury plagued London last year, and then her repeat Chicago win last fall. That's some great running. The question for her is whether she will have anything left in the tank as this is her 3rd marathon in 6 months.
Kosgei From the 800 to the Marathon
She is running well in 2008 despite being holed up in her house for 3 weeks in January and not training. When we say holed up, we mean holed up. She said she did not leave the house even to go to the store and did not train at all. Yet, somehow that didn't stop her as in February she won the RAK half and in March the Lisbon half (where she beat Adere)).
The Three Elder Stateswomen
Dita seems to have the best shot of the 3 elder Europeans. She got a bronze at Worlds in 2003, won Chicago in 2004, and even was 3rd last year in London. But asking her to return to her tip top form of 2003-2004 seems a bit too much. Dita lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado where she now has her green card. (She'd be a likely candidate to make the 2008 US women's Olympic marathon team if she had her US citizenship, but in 2012 she'll be 42).
Svetlana Zakharova has the next best credentials with wins in both Chicago and Boston in 2003. Since then she hasn't broken 2:25. Thus she won't be a factor.
Petrova has run under 2:25 3 times in her career (most recently 2006), all at London. When asked if she'd run the Olympics she said she'd only do it if she felt she had a shot at a medal. We're sure some thought perhaps she was a bit unpatriotic, as she clearly indicated providing for her family financially is her #1 concern. But running is a business and David Monti showed Petrova has plenty of valid reasons to skip the Olympics for a fall marathon payday. Her husband Sergey died in a tragic car wreck in 2005, and Petrova has been the sole breadwinner since then. As she said, "Everything is on my shoulders. I became the man and woman for my family."
The LetsRun.com Long shot is Germany's Irina Mikitenko. The 35 year old waited until last year to make her marathon debut in Berlin. She has great track credentials, German records at 3k (8:30.39) and 5k (14:42.03), yet her husband and coach, Alexander, was yelling at her to "slow down, slow down" last year in Berlin. She only partially listened to his advice and went on to a 2nd place finish to Gete Wami in 2:24:51.
She has raised her sights higher in London and her plan is to sit on the Ethiopian leaders. She said, "It's to my advantage to sit (on them)... I want to stick with them as long as possible and see what happens."
$138,500 Prize Money for Women, $156,500 for Women
The real money in London which is the world's richest race (which in turn results in it being world's best race in terms of how competitive the field is) is in appearance fees and time bonuses. We've got those listed below.
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