2011 ING New York City Marathon Men's Race Recap: Geoffrey Mutai Caps Year In Style
Mutai Runs 2:05:06 As Meb Keflezighi PRs With 2:09:13 At Age 36 To Get 6th
November 6, 2011
In the end, it was only fitting that Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai was the man who crossed the finish line first in the nearly unthinkable time for New York of 2:05:06 to win the 2011 ING New York City Marathon.
The year 2011 has been revolutionary in men's marathoning, as before today on four different occasions in 2011, a man from Kenya had run in the 2:03s and at all four of the World Marathon Majors, the men's course record had been broken by a man from Kenya. Thus it was only appropriate that the Kenyan man who has had the most remarkable 2011 of anyone on the planet was the one to cap off the incredible year in men's marathoning with a performance that 12 months ago probably would have been viewed as impossible.
Before 2011, the men's course record in Boston was 2:05:52. It is now 2:03:02 thanks to Mr. Mutai. A 2:50 course record in Boston is awesome, but some might argue that Mutai's performance today in New York was even better. Before today, the course record in New York was 2:07:43. He took 2:37 off that today in nearly pristine conditions. Would anyone ever imagine that the New York course record would be faster than the pancake-flat Chicago marathon?
Throw in Mutai's 44-second margin of victory at the Kenyan Cross-Country Championships earlier this year and it's hard to imagine someone having a better year than Geoffrey Mutai.
The race was held in near-perfect conditions with temperatures in the 40s and very little wind. The pace started off reasonably fast, as the first 10km (which includes a big hill over the bridge in the first mile) was run in 30:24 (2:08:16 pace). From there, it only got faster, as the next two 10km splits were very even - 29:40 and 29:43 for Geoffrey Mutai. Along the way, a lead pack of 10 guys - including 2009 New York winner in American Meb Keflezighi - went through the halfway in a fast 63:17-63:19.
At 20 miles, the lead pack, which still included Keflezighi, was down to seven. After three straight miles in the 4:40s, the pace had slowed to 4:52 on mile 20 and Geoffrey Mutai decided it was time to strike. He accelerated and a 4:31 21st mile gave him a 3-second lead. Less than a mile later 35km (21.7miles), he was 17 seconds in front. The lead would only get bigger as Mutai kept the pressure on. He kept hammering miles in the 4:30 range as he covered the 3-mile stretch from 20-23 in an incredible 13:35 (4:31.8 avg. pace).
While the announcers on television were wondering if we might possibly see a 2:05 marathon in New York, we at LetsRun.com were correctly wondering if we might see a 2:04 in New York, as Mutai needed to run the final 3.21875 miles in 15:02 (4:40.2 per mile) to do it. Mile 24 was 4:48 and 2:04 seemed out the window. But then mile 25 was 4:41 and we wondered if somehow Geoffrey Mutai knew what was possible. In the end, the stats show Mutai's 26th mile was run in 4:39 and his final time was 2:05:06. If he had been pushed, we think a 2:04 was possible.
Mutai's 2:05:06 is a performance that hopefully will be remembered for years to come, as it was mind-boggling in many ways. His 2nd half marathon? 61:48. His 10km split from 30km to 40km, which includes the Central Park Hills? 28:57.
The Battle For Second And $500,000
The others in the lead pack really had no response to Geoffrey Mutai's surge that started in the 21st mile. However, the three that responded the best were the defending champion Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, 2011 London champ Emmanuel Mutai (no relation to Geoffrey) of Kenya and 2010 London champ Tsegey Kebede of Ethiopia. Gebremariam responded the best initially and was two seconds ahead of the other two at the 21-mile mark, but he would soon see any chance he had for victory fall by the wayside as Emmanuel Mutai and Tsegey Kebede would pull clear of him by mile 22.
The battle for second between Emmanuel Mutai and Tsegey Kebede may have not been getting a lot of camera attention, but it was definitely very important for Mr. E. Mutai, as a 2nd place showing would give him the World Marathon Majors points title over G. Mutai for the 2010-2011 season and $500,000. A third-place showing would result in a tie, with Geoffrey getting the tie-breaker since he'd have two victories to Emmanuel's one. In the end, Emmanuel would finish comfortably in second in 2:06:28 as Kebede would struggle a bit over the final two miles - 5:08 and 5:18. Yet Kebede's third place time of 2:07:14 was still 29 seconds under the old course record. All 3 men received $70,000 bonuses for breaking the course record.
The next two finishers proved to be inspirational for all middle-aged runners, as 2003 and 2005 world champion Jaouad Gharib finished 5th in 2:08:27 at age 39, and 36-year-old Meb Keflezighi had a resurgent performance to grab 6th in a new personal best of 2:09:13.
Meb PRs To Get 6th At Age 36
Keflezighi, the man who had won in New York two years ago in 2:09:15 and had finished a credible 6th here last year in 2:11:38, had been deemed by some in the sport to be over the hill, as he was not invited to this spring's London or Boston marathons (at least at a price that Meb was willing to run at) and was without a shoe sponsor for the first eight months of the year until he recently signed with Skechers.
Meb has a new PR and a performance he can be very proud of. This was not a run-from-behind, run your own pace and not mix it up with the leaders 2:09. It was a run with the world's best for 20 miles. Meb went out in a very ambitious 63:18 and stayed with the leaders through 20 miles. Had it not been for a vomit break which resulted in two straight 5:30-plus miles, Meb would have run in the 2:08 range in New York.
Post-Race Reaction From Meb & Coach Larsen
We caught up with both Meb and his coach Bob Larsen after the race. Larsen said he was confident Meb was in great shape coming in and thought he could run 2:08 in New York today but he said that it probably needed to be an evenly run race (video interviews embedded below). Meb was obviously very excited to have proven the naysayers wrong and was excited to look forward to the future. He said for the first time in years, he no longer wears orthotics thanks to the way the Skechers' training shoe is designed and Larsen said the key thing with Meb is just keeping him healthy.
As for the 2012 US Olympic marathon Trials, which are just 68.5 days away according to Meb, Meb was confident that even though he's getting up there in age that he'll be able to get recovered from New York and get ready for the Trials just like he did in 2004 when he got second in both the Olympics and New York and they were just 70 days apart. Keflezighi said that he was pleased he pulled it back together and ran a 5:11 26th mile, as he believes when you finish a marathon strong, you recover better than when you stagger home.
The American Debutants
Two American men, Bobby Curtis and Ed Moran, were also in the field making the marathon debuts. They ran with the lead pack for 4 miles before the pace got too hot. The 27:24 man Bobby Curtis ran more aggressively once the pace picked up, as he put 20 seconds on Moran between 4 miles and 10km. At halfway, Curtis (65:23) was 15 seconds ahead of the 27:43 man Moran (65:38). However, Moran would catch Curtis by 16 miles and the two would run together until mile 18 when Moran would power away and continue on to a very strong debut time of 2:11:46 - good enough for 10th place overall.
Curtis would suffer greatly over the latter stages of the races, particularly the last 3+ miles. He was only 69 seconds arrears of Moran at mile 23, but at the finish he would be end up nearly a full five minutes back thanks to a 6:02 25th mile and 6:42 26th mile, as he ended up 15th in 2:16:44.
After the race, Curtis ruled out competing at the 2012 US Olympic Men's marathon trials and said he hadn't done any long marathon-pace tempo runs which are the staple of most elite marathon training. He said that all along he was never planning on running the Marathon Trials and would only do so on the 1% chance he found the marathon distance to be easy and he had totally rocked it today.
Moran, who would be seeded 7th at the Trials if he ran it (and arguably higher if the difficulty of the courses are considered), as only 4 US men have broken 2:11:00 in this Trials cycle, also said he wasn't planning on doing the Trials. He's getting married next weekend in Pittsburgh and then going on a honeymoon, where he said he'll do no running.
Odds & Ends That You May Not Read About Anywhere Else
1. In the post-race press conference, Geoffrey Mutai admitted that he had never even looked at the New York course before running it today. "In Boston I traveled to see the course. But today I don't know the course, so I was going without knowing what was coming," said Mutai. He said that even though he won, it was a very tough race and he was particularly full of praise for the weather, which he called "so good."
2. If you watched the race on television, you likely were asking yourself, "Who is the guy in the dreadlocks?'' That would be none other than 22-year-old Sisay Ezkyas of Ethiopia. The Flagstaff-based runner led much of the race early and stayed with the leaders until the 19-mile mark before ending up in 9th in a PR of 2:11:04. A big step up from the B road circuit he had been running on for much of the summer and the 2:20:28 he ran in his only other marathon - Grandma's in 2010.
We caught up with Sisay after the race and were pleased to have him report that LetsRun.com is his favorite website. He was thrilled with his race and said it came as a total surprise to him as he had missed a week of running two weeks ago as his father had passed away.
3. In case he ends up being a future star, it's worth noting that the 4th fastest half marathoner in history in 22-year-old Mathew Kisorio ended up 8th in 2:10:58. He was one of seven guys to stay with the lead pack through 20 miles.
4. Both Mutais were asked about whether they will be selected the Olympics and whether they will run a spring marathon. In our estimation, Geoffrey will be selected and Emmanuel won't. Both guys were non-committal on a spring marathon and very deferential to the Kenyan Federation.
5. The World of Marathon really took leaps and bonds in the year since Sammy Wanjiru's death, but the trailblazer Wanjiru was on everyone's mind. Kebede had this to say about Wanjiru: "It's true last year Chicago we had a very stiff competition between him and me. I tried very hard to win, and at the end I wasn't able to beat him, and he won. I actually prefer not to think or talk a great deal about him, because when I think about how he passed away, it really disturbs me and it makes me very sad."
6. Anything can happen in a marathon and the favorite often does not win, but G. Mutai is the favorite in the Olympic Marathon in our book. He pointed out the Olympics don't have a pacemaker and he has excelled in his 2 marathons (without pacemakers). He said, "So for me, because I'm used to being in front always, so I don't care if the race has a pacemaker or not ..." Mutai's attacking style has brought him a long way in the last years. Clearly he fears no one when he runs. He said, "When I am running, I run with no fear. I try to perform like that. If somebody even follows me, I don't have fear."
There is no doubt about it that Geoffrey Mutai is the best long distance runner on the planet right now.
Video interviews, top 100 results and other links appear below.
More: *Post-Race Press Conference Transcripts From Geoffrey Mutai, Emmanuel Mutai And Tsegaye Kebede
*Post-Race Press Conference Transcripts From Meb Keflezighi, Bobby Curtis (And Lauren Fleshman & Molly Pritz)
*With nothing to prove, Meb Keflezighi still affirming his greatness
Meb Keflezighi On His 2:09:13 PR, The Olympic Trials, And Getting Dropped By Nike And Picked Up By Skechers
Meb's Coach Bob Larsen
Geoffrey Mutai, Emmanuel Mutai, Tsefgaye Kebede After 2011 ING NYC Marathon
Ed Moran After 2:11:46 10th Place At 2011 ING New York City Marathon
Bobby Curtis After 2:16 Marathon Debut
The Americans (Molly Pritz, Lauren Fleshman, Meb Keflezighi And Bobby Curtis)
Viktor Röthlin After 2:12 11th Place At 2011 ING NYC Marathon
|6||7||Meb Keflezighi||02:09:13||CA||United States||USA|
|9||17||Ezkyas Sisay||02:11:04||AZ||United States||ETH|
|10||12||Ed Moran||02:11:46||VA||United States||USA|
|13||15||Juan Luis Barrios||02:14:10||Mexico||MEX|
|14||23||Teklu Tefera Deneke||02:16:20||NY||United States||ETH|
|15||11||Bobby Curtis||02:16:44||PA||United States||USA|
|16||227||Tesfaye Assefa Dube||02:19:24||NY||United States||ETH|
|17||983||Abdelaaziz Atmani||02:19:36||IN||United States||USA|
|18||20||Bado Worku Merdessa||02:20:22||NY||United States||ETH|
|19||24||Fikadu Lemma||02:20:41||NY||United States||ETH|
|21||21||John Beattie||02:23:43||Great Britain||GBR|
|23||53||Daniel Daly||02:25:23||NY||United States||PER|
|24||201||Francis Corrigan||02:25:33||NY||United States||USA|
|30||802||Michael Arnstein||02:28:12||NY||United States||USA|
|31||237||Ben Schneider||02:28:44||MN||United States||USA|
|35||229||Jorge Eliecer Real||02:29:36||NY||United States||COL|
|36||730||Kenneth Goglas||02:29:40||NJ||United States||USA|
|37||241||John Roberts||02:29:46||NY||United States||USA|
|38||243||Michael Capriolo||02:29:52||OH||United States||USA|
|39||240||Sebastien Baret||02:29:58||NY||United States||FRA|
|40||1103||Nicholas Roosa||02:30:30||NY||United States||USA|
|42||292||Greg Cass||02:30:44||NY||United States||USA|
|43||222||Richard Weis||02:30:53||CA||United States||USA|
|44||231||Stuart Burton||02:30:58||OR||United States||GBR|
|48||1122||Oscar Martin Perez||02:31:17||Spain||ESP|
|49||204||Christopher Carrier||02:31:19||NY||United States||USA|
|54||28||Andrew Hunt||02:31:51||Great Britain||GBR|
|55||1130||Dirk Muench||02:31:57||NY||United States||GER|
|58||234||Ryan Donovan||02:32:24||CO||United States||USA|
|59||238||Stephen Donahue||02:32:25||CA||United States||USA|
|60||1165||Richard Williams||02:32:29||WA||United States||USA|
|64||205||Thom Little||02:33:15||NY||United States||USA|
|68||252||Jeff Weinstein||02:33:51||NY||United States||USA|
|69||215||Phillip Falk||02:34:05||NY||United States||USA|
|70||228||Dereje Hailegiorgis||02:34:05||NY||United States||ETH|
|71||221||Daniel Renahan||02:34:18||NY||United States||USA|
|72||267||Paul Curran||02:34:22||OR||United States||USA|
|74||1380||Oz Pearlman||02:34:37||NY||United States||USA|
|75||1196||Christopher Bain||02:34:43||MD||United States||USA|
|78||1152||Juan Manuel Florido||02:34:54||Spain||ESP|
|82||1114||Mike Hensley||02:35:27||FL||United States||USA|
|83||1922||Michael Decoste||02:35:34||NY||United States||USA|
|85||1329||Simon Von Witt||02:35:59||South Africa||RSA|
|87||1215||Jose Tomas Ruiz Tagle||02:36:07||Chile||CHI|
|88||1112||Tarik Thabet||02:36:25||Great Britain||FRA|
|90||200||Tom Dichiara||02:36:32||NY||United States||USA|
|91||1243||Thomas Hynes||02:36:33||NY||United States||USA|
|93||1158||Thomas Holowka||02:36:37||CT||United States||USA|
|95||846||Philip Shea, Jr.||02:36:45||NY||United States||USA|
|97||1034||Mark Jenkin||02:36:57||Great Britain||GBR|
|99||1946||Mark Rochon||02:37:07||PA||United States||USA|
|100||1311||Knox Robinson||02:37:12||NY||United States||USA|