Wilson Kipsang & Stanley Biwott Sound Confident – Moses Mosop Isn’t 100%
November 2, 2012
At Thursday’s media gathering where each pro in town was stationed at a table and available for intimate Q&As with members of the media, many of the leading contenders for Sunday’s 2012 ING New York City Marathon, particularly on the men’s side were in attendance.
Of the “Five Men That We Think Might Win“, three were present- 2:03:42 man and 2012 London champ and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Wilson Kipsang, 2:03:06 man and former Chicago record holder, Moses Mosop, and 2:05:12 man and 2012 Paris winner, Stanley Biwott, who is a perfect five for five on the year, including wins at Beach To Beacon, Falmouth and
the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in his build up for New York.
We broke down the marathon on paper in our men’s preview, but we wanted to hold off on our predictions until we got to talk to the runners and hear the scuttle-butt on how their training has been going. Today’s press event was invaluable in that regard as two of the top Kenyans seem to be on top of their games whereas one is less than 100%.
Kipsang Is Confident
Earlier this week, we had said Kipsang is the most credentialed marathoner on the planet and the man to beat assuming all is going well.
Well let there be no doubt, it seems that Kipsang’s training has gone very well. The affable Kipsang, who is a good interview, full of smiles and seems very comfortable with the media (Biwott and Mosop talk so incredibly quietly it’s hard to hear what they are saying), came across as someone who is very much looking forward to racing on Sunday.
“My goal is to win – maybe to run a course record if possible,” said Kipsang when asked what his goal for Sunday was.
“The training has been going very well and I’m really seeing it (in my fitness),” said Kipsang. “But the human body sometimes it’s really hard to predict. Only after performance can you see how it really was. But I’m feeling good. At all races it depends on how you feel that day.”
We asked Kipsang if he was happy with his bronze medal at the Olympics in a race that he entered in many people’s minds, including ours, as the favorite. Kipsang said he was happy with the Olympics as he now has something that many people don’t have – an Olympic medal.
We asked if he regretted making a big move before half-way at the Olympics (Kipsang ran the third 5k in 14:11 which is 1:59:42 marathon pace) and if maybe the move was too much, too soon in the heat of London.
Kipsang said he did not. “Not really because the pace was a bit slow so when I tried (Editor’s note: the pace was 2:09:50 pace at 10k). I really wanted to reduce the group to a smaller group,” said Kipsang who said the problem was that no one came with him initially when he made his move so he had to run alone. While he didn’t have any regrets, Kipsang did admit, “I’m trying to get used to the races that don’t have pace makers.”
Late in our interview with Kipsang, we asked him if given his success of late – the second fastest records-eligible time in Frankfurt last Fall (2:03:42), his London win and Olymipc bronze – if he considered himself to be the number one marathoner on the planet as we do.
Kipsang wasn’t ready to give himself that title quite yet.
“I think at the moment I’m trying to come up- to come up to the top. If you are at the top, you are the world recorder (or the fastest of all-time) – someone like Geofrrey Mutai. But if I can keep on training harder, I have the chance to really be at the top.”
One thing is certain, a win in New York on Sunday will give him the world #1 ranking for 2012.
And the stats, not just Kipsang’s comments, give credence to the belief that he will be hard to beat. When asked by another reporter if he had recovered fully from August’s Olympics, Kipsang said, “I’m fully recovered. I knew for someone like me (it wouldn’t be too hard). After the Olympics, I took two weeks rest and then started to train.”
Train he did as it didn’t take Kipsang long to impress. On September 16th, some five weeks after London and just three weeks after resuming training, Kipsang blitzed to a 59:06 half marathon victory at the BUPA Great North Run – the 5th fastest half-marathon of the year.
We asked Kipsang if he was surprised to have run so fast, so soon after London.
“To some extent, but for someone like me, I’ve run it in 58 before (so it’s not that surprising),” said Kipsang (Editor’s note: We found it a bit funny that Kipsang acted like running 59:06 was no big deal as Kipsang’s 58 – was a 58:59 back in February 2009).
Stanley Biwott Also Is Very Confident
The other leading Kenyan that sounded really confident this afternoon was the undefeated for 2012, Stanley Biwott.
“I’ve trained for this race and I hope I run my best. I’ve run three road races (in the US) and have run good (in all of them) so I expect to run good in New York. I’m focused on trying to win,” said the very soft-spoken Biwott.
We asked Biwott if he thought he was in better shape now or in the Spring when he ran 2:05:12 to win in Paris.
“In Paris I was in shape, and here I am also in shape also. It’s about the same I think,” said Biwott who focuses on himself and doesn’t worry about the competition.
After talking to Biwott, we asked his coach Claudio Beradelli more about Biwott’s preparations for New York. One thing that was important to us was, ‘Had Biwott been focused on New York all along and how long had he been training for New York or was it just a race he added on after his impressive string of US road races. Beradelli said ever since the Spring, the hope was that Biwott would be able to run New York and that the three US road races were all used as speed workout preparation for what would hopefully be a marathon in New York. Those road race wins certainly didn’t hurt Biwott’s dream of running New York and his agent and New York were able to make Biwott’s dream a reality.
Beradelli got into specifics and even gave details of a 10 x 1k workout Biwott finished last weekend. You can see the full Beradelli interview below. Off camera, Beradelli said that he’d heard the training of Martin Lel, who was not at the media event today and won’t be at the one on Friday as he’s got visa issues and won’t be getting in to New York until Saturday, had been going well.
Renato Canova Likes Biwott’s Chances As Well
Beradelli isn’t the only who thinks highly of Biwott’s chances. Coach Renato Canova has blogged the following about Biwott and Kipsang:
I believe that the athlete most prepared will be Stanley Biwott. He had no problems, was able to recover well not having had the Olympic marathon, and it’s really strong on the ups and downs ( i remember Paris Half Marathon, he was awesome and I talked with Claudio Berardelli , his coach, assuming what then happened regularly in Paris).
Wilson Kipsang has recovered a good speed, but he will pay the third high-profile marathon this year in 6 months with problems after 35 km. After a marathon of hard work, usually you can run well for a half (LRC addition: as he did at the Bupa Great Run), or at least a little over 30 km, but you lost in the specific resistance, if there isn’t an the correct psycho-physical recovery time in the middle, and this seems in my opinion Wilson’s situation.
What About Moses Mosop?
The other leading Kenyan man at the press event on Friday was 2011 Chicago winner Moses Mosop.
Before we get to insight on Mosop’s condition, one thing we learned today is that Mosop is no longer being coached by Renato Canova. Canova blogged on Halloween that he hasn’t been coaching Mosop since July. We recommend that you read Canova’s entire blog post on Alberto Stretti’s blog.
In (Mosop’s) particular condition, I thought it was for him more useful to have a group around, rather than a specific program. Moses needed to find new enthusiasm, and right next to his new home in Eldoret also live Wilson Chebet and Sammy Kitware. Moses has therefore joined the group, which also uses a type of training more classically Kenyan than what I adopt it during the specific phase.
As for Mosop’s training for New York, let’s just say it’s been less than ideal. Mosop was originally picked to the Kenyan Olympic team but was forced to pull out with left leg (achilles/calf) tendon problem. This is the same problem that hampered him in his buildup for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. The tendon injury has continued to plague Mosop in his buildup for New York. The injury wasn’t good enough for him to run the Olympics in August or defend his Chicago marathon title in September but that doesn’t mean he should be 100% discounted for New York this weekend.
“This time, it’s like Chicago (last year) – 80 to 85% percent,” said Mosop in referring to his injury. Well last year, Mosop went into Chicago at a fitness level that he described as being 80 to 85% and the result was still very impressive – a 2:05:37 course record.
“If my leg is ok, I will do something (on Sunday). If it doesn’t respond, (I won’t). It’s like that,” said Mosop who says he still has been able to go as long as 40k in his New York preparations and get in some speed work on the track. Mosop said he’s gotten in about 10 weeks of training which is less than the normal three months he gets for a marathon where everything goes smoothly.
As for the future, if he’s able to get 100% for a marathon, Mosop still is dreaming big.
“The number one goal in my mind -when things are going really well – I want to run the best time in the marathon- the world record.”
Odds & Ends
The three Kenyan men at the press conference on Thursday, plus Boston women’s winner Sharon Cherop, all had their travel to New York changed by Hurricane Sandy. On Tuesday night, they were at the airport in Nairobi ready for their Nairobi to London and London to New York flight when the New York portion of the trip was cancelled. Once that happened, they were told they couldn’t get on the plane to London as there was no proof they wouldn’t stay in London and they didn’t have a London visa. Quick thinking, they all purchased tickets to Boston and the New York road-runners sent a car – or in this case a very large single SUV – to pick them up and drive them to New York. They got in on Wednesday evening around 9 pm after a 24 + hour journey.
Despite the long journey, none of the runners were even considering using the long journey as an excuse.
Mosop said the travel will “not affect me” while Kipsang said, “It was a long travel, (but) no it won’t compromise my performance.”
One thing some of the runners – Kipsang and Biwott – disagreed on was whether they wanted to see the course before the race. They all had seen it on tv and knew it was a difficult course but Biwott seemed unfazed by the fact he’s never seen the course, “I won’t see the course (before the start). I usually don’t focus on the course. I’ll see when I’m running on that day,” said Biwott who did say he hoped the runners worked together and “assist each other” since there are no rabbits in the race.
Kipsang didn’t seem too concerned about the course, but if offered a chance to see the course, he said planned on taking a peek.
“I think if we get he opportunity to see it (the course) it would be nice,” said Kipsang.