2012 Boston Marathon Press Conference Highlights
By Jesse Barton, LetsRun.com
April 13, 2012
The press conference for the 116th Boston Marathon was held this morning and the main buzz surrounded Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion who set the course record while running the world's best time of 2:03:02. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, the 2010 Boston Marathon victor and previous course record holder has withdrawn from the race with injury, erasing his potential great matchup with Mutai.
Men's Race Press Conference Highlights:
Wesley Korir, the 29-year-old former University of Louisville All-American runner, is making his Boston debut on Monday. Korir is coming off of a 4th place finish at the New York City half marathon, where he ran 1:01:19, and a 2:06:19 second place at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. He was happy with that race and what it means for him coming into Boston. Korir says he was quite sick for the half marathon and now he feels great, so he is looking forward to seeing what he can do healthy. Korir had a fast rise in improvement after graduating from Louisville, and he attributes this to being surrounded by the best people, saying, "I have the best agent, the best wife, and the best family." When he was running in college his coach Ron Mann (former coach of Ibrahim Hussein, the first Kenyan to win Boston in 1988) told him that he would be a great marathoner some day and Korir recalls brushing the remark off because at the time he says he struggled with the 10k, "26.2 miles is a lot of miles to think about," he said. "I have grown," said Korir. "I have been a student of the sport." Korir had tons of praise for the Boston Marathon and the experience he has had so far, "I've never been to a race that's as good as this. I feel really important, we go to the school and are treated like VIP," said Korir. "This is one of those experiences I will never forget." Korir is looking forward to the challenge that Monday will present, he said, "I'm just gonna go out there, feel good and run with the guys. I am excited about Heartbreak Hill, I just hope it doesn't break my heart," he joked.
Nick Arciniaga is one of two Americans in the elite field. He comes into the race with a best of 2:11:30 and is hoping to run sub 2:10 on Monday. A feat that may be made a bit harder with the temperatures forecasted to be in the mid 80s with a light headwind, although he says he is not too concerned about it. Arciniaga competed in the U.S. Olympic Trails, finishing in eighth place in a time of 2:11:56. After the trials he took some time to recover, but within a week of the race he said he had already gone on a 12 mile run. He said that he recovered really well and quickly and that "the only thing bothering me were my calves from the pavement." In addition to his time goal, Arciniaga said his goal is to "just go out there and compete against the international competition as well as I can and to go for the top five."
Jason Hartmann joins Arciniaga as the other American in the elite field. He is excited about the race, especially after his disappointing finish at the Olympic Trials in January, where he finished in 32nd place in 2:16:44. "It was a disappointing day," said Hartmann. "When you put everything into a day and it doesn't work out it is hard to deal with. This race gives me something to do, rather than be disappointed." He attributed his poor Trials performance to simply not feeling good on the day, "I've had times where I didn't prepare… and I ran exceptionally well, a lot can depend on how you feel." After the trials Hartmann made sure that he was recovered and says that he feels really good with where he is at going into Boston. Hartmann is now self coached, after training most recently under Lee Troop. "Running at this level is a business and sometimes you lose sight of that," said Hartmann. "You're here because you enjoy running, but sometimes you forget it is a business too. I needed to find my priority and it has nothing to do with anything but me. Lee is a great coach and I would recommend him to anyone," finished Hartmann. His goal for Monday is to finish as high as possible and beat as many people as he can. Despite such a small American field compared to past years he does not feel any extra pressure to finish as the top American, "there's lots of guys, it's hard to base your race on the others," said Hartmann.
Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest man to ever run a marathon, has still not been ensured a spot on the Kenyan Olympic team. There are currently six men who have been selected, and out of these, three will be chosen. Mutai made it clear that he really wants to be selected, saying that it would be his "dream fulfilled." Mutai does not have much indication from the Kenyan Athletic Association about how the selection process will go, so he is just going into Boston with the goal of doing the best that he can. "The only thing is to wait and see my performance," said the easy-going Kenyan. "My performance will speak for itself… A win will help me a lot." Mutai fielded many questions about how he feels being the defending champion, and he gave essentially the same answer every time, saying that "Boston is not easy, it is not easy to run a good time in Boston. When I am in competition, I know that I can handle this." The days and weeks following last year's Boston Marathon were ripe with drama as Mutai's record was deemed not allowable due to the nature of the course being point-to-point. "First of all, it was pain for me," said Mutai when asked about the experience. "I was feeling something, maybe, it was not good for me. I sat down and said, 'I still ran fast. So, you cannot subtract from my performance.'" Mutai also discussed the progression of the marathon world record and thinks that someday a sub-2 hour marathon will happen. "I think it (world record) will go down and down, said Mutai." Mutai, who is still self-coached, is waiting for race day to see how the race unfolds. Last year Ryan Hall and Moses Mosop (profile on him running Rotterdam here) pushed the pace. "Even last year, I didn't know Ryan Hall would push the pace," said Mutai. "Everything happens on the day of the race, it doesn't matter that these guys aren't here." Mutai is not concerned about the weather forecast, saying, "It is not easy to run in hot weather and it can change a performance, but I will wait and see. It will effect each one of us." Come Monday, Mutai will be going for the win, but he says, "To repeat again, it is not easy."
Women's Race: Can Defending Champ Kilel and NYC Champ Dado Match the Drama of the Last Four Years?
With the Olympic Trails being held earlier this year there is a noticeable lack of American competitors in both the men's and women's fields. While the men's elite field is highlighted by the appearance of Nick Arciniaga and Jason Hartman, the women's top elite field does not have any American contenders, which is a stark difference from last year's race where American Desiree Davila electrified the running world with a near win, only losing by two seconds at the line. The women's field is one of the fastest ever assembled for the Boston Marathon, and is led by last year's champion, Caroline Kilel. Despite the quality of the field, it will be hard to match the excitement of last year's finish, or any of the last four years where the race has been determined by 2, 3, 1, and 2 seconds.
The 2011 Boston Marathon champion, Caroline Kilel, both knows and likes the Boston course and will certainly be a force to be reckoned with as she attempts to defend her title. The soft-spoken Kenyan is used to the warm weather and does not think that will be a factor at all for her. Kilel is not yet on the Kenyan Olympic team for the marathon, and it is her goal to make the team. "If I win here, maybe they will select me to the Olympics," said Kilel. Given the close finishes that the past years have produced on the women's side, Kilel may find herself in a another tight finish if she is contending for the win again. Her experience with a close finish may help her in the end. "Last year, the last 50 meters, I didn't realize I was going to win, but with 50 meters I realized I had it." She said her training has been going well, she is healthy, and looking forward to running well on Monday.
One of Kilel's main challengers will be Firehiwot Dado, the 2011 ING New York City Marathon champion. Dado most recently won the NYC Half Marathon against Kim Smith and her performances show she is primed for a good race.
Runner-up to Dado in New York City was countrywoman Buzunesh Deba. Deba spoke through
an interpreter, her husband, Worku Beyi, who is also her agent and coach.
The experiences of winning both the NYC marathon and half marathon have helped Dado to prepare mentally for Boston, "I am more prepared to be the champion
now, than just in the race," said Dado. She has prepared for this race in part by training through all of the possible adverse conditions, "we have trained with all the factors, wind, heat, cold, hills," said Deba. Despite how well her training and racing has been going, she may be hindered slightly by a foot injury that popped up last week on the outside of her right foot. She says that she is not worried and that it is feeling better now.
Note: When first published this article erroneously left out the part above in italics. Deba not Dado is injured. Thanks to Sabrina Yohannes for alerting this to us.
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