It gives you behind the scenes access and is the best piece I've read all year. Kawauchi's 4:37 all was part of a crazy elaborate plan.
Brett Larner wrote:
Addressing the course, the weather, different tactics in his preparations, what was left for Kawauchi to face was the most daunting obstacle, the competition. Defending champ and London world champion Geoffrey Kirui. Silver medalist Tamirat Tola. A long list of Africans far faster than he’ll ever run. But above all, one name. Galen Rupp.
It was never spoken between us, but we both knew it was all about Rupp. An Olympic medalist, the runner-up last year who ironed out the flaws to win Chicago with a mind-blowing last 10 km. The product of Salazar, the Nike machine and all its financial and technological clout. The core reason for the Nike Oregon Project’s existence. Saitama governor Ueda had called Kawauchi the Rocky of the marathon world after his breakthrough in 2011. This was Rocky IV. How could one runner with no coach, no sponsors, no budget, no technology, a full-time job, go about overcoming someone so much more powerful?
By using his head. Looking at Rupp’s marathons to date and those of his teammate Suguru Osako, taken all together it became clear that the NOP only had one approach: exert the minimum effort possible until 30~32 km and then just do it. Sit and kick. Sit and kick. Sit and kick. That was all they had, and it seemed pretty clearly telegraphed that Rupp would kick off Heartbreak for the win. If you could just neutralize that last 10 km they had nothing. The only question was how. ...
“Concentrating only on Rupp was the best approach I could take,” Kawauchi said. “It kept me from getting distracted by all the others.” Over the middle stage of the race through 25 km Kawauchi made a series of surges to keep the pace moving whenever it slowed beyond his liking, refusing to let Rupp and the others rest and conserve energy in the cold. “I couldn’t let them get comfortable,” he said. As expected Rupp stayed in the pack whatever its pace, never seeming to exert himself. But on Kawauchi’s last surge the pack splintered, and among those who couldn’t keep up was Rupp.
Read it now: