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LRC: Boston Media Day: Can An American Win It?
By: LetsRun.com
April 18, 2009

Friday was media day at the 2009 Boston Marathon. Media day consists of John Hancock making available to the media all of the top contenders for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

This year, with 2 legitimate American contenders, Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher, in the fields that means a swarm of media around Hall and Goucher, with the rest of the athletes largely sitting at their designated areas being ignored. Three-time defending champ Robert Cheruiyot generally had one member of the media in front of him, but Hall and Goucher had a herd around them. Evans Cheruiyot, a 2:06 guy and winner of the Chicago Marathon? He sat there nearly unnoticed. We attempted to talk to a few of the top contenders from Kenya and Ethiopia because in addition to developing homegrown stars, the sport needs to market and promote the foreign stars it has. That is much easier said than done because a lot of the foreigners speak broken English. Throw in the fact we didn't bring a microphone and the acoustics were horrible in the room and you get some of our videos below.

Robert The Champ Is Back (To read the LetsRun.com men's preview click here)
Boston has been very kind to 4-time (and 3 times in a row) champion Robert Cheruiyot. The Boston course, although a net downhill (the course is largely downhill from the start to mile 16, then uphill until mile 21, then downhill again until the finish with ups and downs throughout), can be very difficult. Throw in extreme heat one year and rain another, and Cheruiyot has shown he can win in all conditions in Boston. He's back this year to try to pass Boston Billy Rodgers for his fifth crown.

Cheruiyot was confident of his chances on Monday. "I like Boston very much. I am confident in myself." Cheruiyot's likely challengers will be two guys who share his last name (Cheruiyot according to RunnersWorld means "born at night time or when everyone is asleep"), Evans Cheruiyot and another Robert Cheruiyot, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot. From now on we will refer to the two Roberts as Robert the Champ, and Robert the Younger. Robert the Younger is somewhat of an unknown quantity. Only 20, he won the Frankfurt Marathon last fall in a very impressive 2:07:15 in his debut marathon. Evans ran 2:06:25 for the win in Chicago last fall and has run 5 times under an hour for the half marathon. Evans definitely is not an unknown quantity to Robert the Champ, as they are training partners in the same stable with hot and emerging coach Claduio Berardelli. Berardelli a Dr. Rosa protégé, is also the coach of Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai, who both ran stunning 2:04:27s in Rotterdam 2 weeks ago. To read an excellent thread on Claudio Berardelli click here.

Evans Cheruiyot indicated his training has gone well as he has been keeping up with the Boston legend, Robert the Champ. Evans knows, however, that winning on the pancake-flat Chicago course and conquering the hilly Boston course are two entirely different things. He said, "the training was not bad, but with the hills (it will be different)."

Robert Cheruiyot The Champ (1:44)

Deriba Merga Smiles A Lot (2:38)

Evans Cheruiyot (2:38)

Ethiopian Deriba Merga, a true rags-to-riches story, and the fourth place finisher at the Olympics, is the likely next challenger to Robert the Champ. We talked to Deriba a little bit, and our edited interview is above. As you'll see from the interview, a lot of excitement in smiles, but also a lot of difficult English. Merga seemed concerned with the colder weather forecast on Monday, but said to ask him after the race on Monday to see if he has figured out the marathon (after placing fourth in Beijing, Merga won the Houston marathon in a state record 2:07:52).

Ryan Hall Ready
That brings us to the brightest American male hope in Boston since the 1980s, Ryan Hall. it might be a bit cliché to say Hall was born to run, and in particular to run marathons, but if you read this Boston Globe article, Hall literally believes God put him on this earth to run. Hall has had tremendous success in the marathon and appears perfectly suited for the distance. Hall's first run of his life was a fifteen miler during which he stopped once, he ran 20 milers as a high schooler, and the worst marathon of his life so far was perhaps his 10th place finish at the Olympics. Hall's debut marathon was an American debut record 2:08:24 in London in 2007; he followed that up with an incredible 2:09:02 over the difficult Central Park course at the Olympic Marathon Trials, and then had his stunning 2:06:17 fifth place finish in London last year.

Hall knows winning Boston will be a very difficult task on Monday and that is not the only definition of success, but winning clearly is his goal. We're glad to see the BAA putting its videos up on Youtube to spread the message of the sport beyond the hardcore, and in the video below on the left he says, "I've never stepped on the starting line of a race I didn't think I could win." When we talked to Ryan one-on-one, he first chided us with a grin for asking him last year in London if he really could go out in sub 1:03 pace because no American had ever done that (we don't remember asking Ryan that last year, but the comments are probably in this video. If they are there the first person to email us with when in the video they appear will win one of the mythical LetsRun.com tshirts). Ryan's comments brought back fond memories of London, where LetsRun.com was basically the entire American press corps. Liz Robbins of the NY Times was there as well and we think that was it. You can see our hype surrounding that event in our special 2008 London Marathon section.

Ryan Hall Talks About Winning Boston (1:29)

Ryan Hall Believing In Himself (1:50)

Josh Cox On Ryan Hall's Training (2:06)

In our one-on-one chat with Ryan, he discussed how his faith in God-given abilities helps him not set limits on himself that perhaps other non-African runners do. Ryan has shown he can run on flat courses (London), hilly courses (NY Olympic Trails), and in the heat (Beijing). What is left in Boston is showing he can run on the unique Boston course (net downhill but not flat) and win a major marathon. It is refreshing to talk to 4-time Boston Champ, Robert Cheruiyot, and hear him openly discuss Ryan's chances of winning. Robert the Champ said, "What he (Ryan Hall) is hoping for (the win). I am hoping it is different (because I want to win too). God only knows who will win." We also have an interview on the right with Runnersworld correspondent Josh Cox on Ryan's incredible workouts this year (Josh trains with Ryan on occasion). Josh also talks about how an even-effort run on the Boston course for Ryan would mean running some of the early miles at 4:18 pace and that concept does not faze Ryan.

Kara Goucher Ready To Conquer The Demons And Throwing Up
Turning to the women's race, the attention was squarely on one person, American sensation Kara Goucher. Goucher got a bronze at 10k at the 2007 World Championships and followed that up last year with an incredible 3rd place finish at the New York City Marathon in her debut. Expectations are even higher for Goucher in Boston and she is ready to deal with the added pressure. Her entire team - husband Adam, coach Alberto Salazar and sports pscyhologist Darren Treasure - all keep her loose before the race. And for those of you who think an athlete like Kara Goucher doesn't need a sports psychologist or have doubts in a race think again (and watch the video below on the right, and read this Boston Globe article). Goucher openly talked about thinking about wanting to drop out during the marathon and being very nervous before the races. Among the things she said, "I get so nervous all the time. It's unrealistic to think you can run a marathon and not have any doubts (during the race and that is what the sports psychologist helps with)."

Goucher also discussed with the BAA in the video below on the left her tendency to throw up during longer runs and how she has learned to cope with it. It used to bother her but now has become a common thing she can deal with. She said it happened on some of her long runs and during a tempo run last week, so if you see her pull a Bob Kempainen on Monday don't be surprised. And in case some of you have forgotten, Bob Kempainen at the 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials started vomiting just as he began his drive to pull away from the pack, and he went on to win the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Kara Goucher On Boston And Throwing Up During Races (2:36)

Kara Goucher On Self-Doubt And Changing The World (1:26)

Goucher wants to win on Monday, but her sports psychologist Darren Treasure tries to help her keep a bigger perspective.  As she said, "At the end of the day it's just running, running down a road. I'm not changing the world in any way. I'm not bettering the world." A lot of LetsRun.com fans may beg to differ about her not changing and bettering the world if she is the first across the finish line on Monday.

Retirement For Brian Sell? (2:30)

Notes: The Overlooked American Brian Sell Considering Life After Running And Retirement
Mr. Blue Collar Brian Sell may be the overlooked American at this year's Boston Marathon, but it is familiar territory for Brian. In 2006, the American attention was on Meb Keflezighi and Alan Culpepper, and Sell finished a very respectable 4th overall. Since then, he went on to make the 2008 Olympic Marathon team. When asked whether making the Olympics had given Brian a different perspective on his running, he said that he would consider hanging them up depending on how Monday's race went and that he has plans to go to dental school. Interview to the right.

Later Friday, Brian and the Brooks Hansons Distance Project Group were on tap for the unveiling of the skit by comedians Randy and Jason Sklar, aka Running's Greatest Superfans at the Brooks booth at the expo. Highlights included a sculpture of Sell made out of pasta (photo below). The RunningSuperFans is seriously pretty cool if you hadn't seen it. Link at http://www.runningsuperfans.com/.

More: LRC Preview Of The Men's Field - Can Hall Win It?
*LRC Preview Of The Boston Women's Field
More from Friday: *BAA 2009 Boston Marathon Videos  These seem to be the best in terms of sound we've seen. Flotrack was there as well but the sound was terrible in the building. Runnersworld was the only outlet there with a microphone but we don't see their videos up yet.
*Runnersworld has a special Boston section that is pretty good
*Photos from Friday's Press Conference

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