Ho Hum: 2010 NYC Half Marathon Another Gebrselassie Coronation

by: Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
March 20, 2010

*Updated Entires For Race

Editor's Note: The Original Link to "Five-Star Men's Field for NYC Half  went to the elite athlete bios on the NYC Half Marathon page. LetsRun.com's Wejo took issue with the assessment and wrote the article below. You can find a list of the updated entries for the 2010 race in this spreadsheet.

Granted, Employee #1 made his assessment on the homepage "Five-Star Men's Field For NYC Half" when he thought world XC champ Gebre Gebremariam was still in the field, but I find this year's New York City Half Marathon field to be not that appealing.

My initial take when I looked at the field yesterday was "Another Race Guaranteed for Gebrselassie to Win."

Getting the world's greatest distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, in any field is a tremendous accomplishment. Gebrselassie's appearance fee, however, is not cheap and thus his participation often comes at the expense of a more competitive field.

Perhaps as a result, most races with Gebrselassie these days aren't that interesting. I like to see competitive races, not glorified Gebrselassie coronations.

The New York Road Runners like to "manage" their competitive fields to make interesting and compelling races. The NYRR has determined that to make our sport interesting, the best idea is not to load the field with African runners no one has heard of. Some may think this is unfair, but the NYRR's success shows it's probably a pretty good idea (although a goal of ours at LetsRun.com is to show these "no-name" Africans are real people with amazing stories).

Look at any NYRR field and you'll see this philosophy on display. Generally, there will be a few name international stars, a few top Americans, and a few top runners from other countries, all of which generally have ties to the NYRR in the past so the names are not totally new to the public. This year's NYC Half Marathon field fits the template. You've got Gebrselassie, the Americans (Abdi Abdirahman, Anthony Famiglietti's half marathon debut (local interest and interesting story), Mo Trafeh and more) and a few random others from other countries - Alistair Cragg (Ireland's best), and Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil's best).

What you don't see with any NYRR field is a bunch of Kenyan runners no one has heard of. There is only one Kenyan runner in Sunday's race who even gets a bio on the race website. There are a ton of 59-minute half marathon guys who would take their chances on Sunday but they're not invited to Sunday's race. I don't have much of a problem with this.

What I do have a problem with is who is the guy who is supposed to challenge Gebrselassie this year?