Three Who Impressed Me Most: Boston Marathon 2010
By Weldon Johnson
April 19, 2010
1. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot Cheruiyot, affectionately known as Robert the Younger on LetsRun.com, definitely emerged from the shadows of the other Robert Cheruiyot (the 4-time Boston champ) by winning the Boston Marathon on Monday in a course record 2:05:52. What was most impressive about Cheruiyot was clearly his finishing time and how he ran the race. Prior to Monday, no man had run in the 2:06s on the famed Boston course. Now, no man still has run in the 2:06s on Boston's course. But one man, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, has run in the 2:05s.
Talk all you want about a tailwind (although there are indications there was a headwind at the end of the race), a net downhill course, or whatever you want, but Cheruiyot ran over a minute faster than anyone else ever in Boston. Very impressive.
With help from LetsRun.com fan and track historian David Graham, Cheruiyot's course record by over a minute is not unprecedented. In 1986, Rob DeCastella ran 2:07:51, (3rd-fastest time in history at that point according to Graham) and broke Alberto Salazar's 1982 course record (2:08:52), also by over a minute.
Some on the message boards are wondering if Cheruiyot's is the "Greatest Marathon Ever Run?" Far from it. The fact DeCastella ran just two minutes slower 24 years ago, coupled with how far marathoning has come in the last 24 years, shows the Boston record was meant to come down. Cheruiyot's run and negative split were certainly impressive, but the fact of the matter is Cheruiyot likely was not one of the top 20 marathoners in the world heading into Monday's race. He destroyed the field, but he'll have to beat a more accomplished field to rank as one of the all-time greats. It'll be interesting to see how fast LetsRun.com visitors who ran the race thought the course was. Great weather for running for sure.
One thing Cheruiyot's run shows is that Boston can be negative split despite the Newton Hills. Cosmos Ndeti negative split the course three times to win three times in a row, including a negative split on his 2:07:15 course record in 1994. Cheruiyot's splits? 1:03:25/1:02:27 ... that is 4:50.2/4:45.8 - 4.4 seconds/mile faster on the last half of the course.
Message Boards: *Sub 2:06 at Boston. What could Cheruiyot have run at Berlin or Rotterdam?
*2:05.52 The Greatest Marathon Ever Run?
2. Teyba Erkesso
Erkesso appeared to be on her way to dominating the Boston Marathon. She had a lead of well over a minute and everyone was singing her praises. Then the next thing you knew, Tatyana Pushkareva was closing in on her fast. Usually that means one thing in a marathon - turn out the lights, the party's over. Once a runner hits the wall in the marathon and starts to fade, they usually don't recover. If someone is gaining 20 seconds a mile on you, they are going to blow by you, Erkesso, however, had not hit the wall completely; she must have just been suffering from cramps because she managed to regain enough composure to hold off Pushkareva.
Very impressive and gutsy performance for Erkesso to compose herself - and a thrilling finish.
3. Meb Keflezighi
Ryan Hall may have been the first American, but I was more impressed with Meb Keflezighi's race. Meb entered the race after battling an injury all spring and it was easy to write him off. However, Meb showed what we should have known after his Olympic silver medal or his ING NYC marathon win - he's a great marathoner and a very gutsy competitor.
The surges in the middle part of the race were incredible, yet Meb went with them and still managed to hold on to a near PR. Ryan Hall took the safer route and ran a more even pace throughout. Ryan's strategy is great for running a good time, but it's almost never going to win you the race. Time is not everything in the marathon, as Deriba Merga's 2:08:39 and Ryan Hall's 2:08:41 also show. Merga stayed with Cheruiyot until the final stages of the race, while Hall was off after halfway. Thus, Meb - although only 2nd American - really impressed me on Monday. Meb can flat-out run the marathon, even if not at 100% going in.
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