7 Thoughts About The Men’s Race At The 2014 London Marathon – The Great Wilson Kipsang, The Awful Haile G, Kenenisa Bekele’s Big Day And Props To Mo Farah?
April 13, 2014
Our men’s race recap appears here: Wilson Kipsang Wins 2014 London Marathon In New Course Record Of 2:04:29 – Mo Farah 9th In 2:08:21.
With such an incredible field assembled, arguably the finest in men’s marathon history, we couldn’t fit our analysis of it into quick takes, so we have put our thoughts in its own piece here.
1) Disappointed With the Finishing Times? Blame The Great Haile Gebrselassie
The First 5k Was A Ridiculous 14:21 (2:01:06 Pace)
Wilson Kipsang did break the London course record, but with arguably the greatest men’s field ever assembled and good weather, only two men broke 2:06 and the men’s race didn’t live up to the great hype.
As good as Kipsang’s run was, many such as coach Renato Canova were expecting London’s first 2:03 with the field that was assembled.
What explains the lack of faster times?
Simply, the race started too fast once again.
Any chance of a 2:03 was basically killed when the first 5k was hit in 14:21 (first mile 4:36). That’s an absurd 2:01:06 pace. The world record is so finely tuned that people can’t afford to be off by that much. Haile Gebrselassie was supposed to get the field on 2:03:30 pace which is 14:38 per 5km.
Yes, the first 5k is about 30 meters downhill but even if we adjust for that, and add six seconds, it still was too fast at 2:01:57 pace.
(The London rabbits notoriously go out too fast. Last year they went out only slightly slower in 14:26. With as much money as they spend, they should literally mark off the first 100, 200, 400, 800, 1200, etc.).
And then Gebrselassie didn’t even make it halfway as he was out before 13.1.
Leaders Splits Per 5km
5k: 14:21 – That’s 2:01:06 pace which is absurd.
5-10k: 14:50 – Slowed down too much as 14:50 the whole way gets you 2:05:10.
10-15k: 14:55 – Even slower.
15-20k: 15:09 – Geb was already gone by this point, but 15:09 per 5km is 2:07:51 pace.
20-25k: 14:43 – Rabbit stop here at 25km.
25-30k: 15:03- No rabbit.
30-35k: 14:33- No rabbit. 2 man race now.
35-40l: 14:38- 14:38 is actually exactly what you need for the pre-race projected pace of 2:03:30.
2) Despite The Crazy Fast Start, Wilson Kipsang Was Phenomenal From 30k to The Finish – He Did It At 2:02:43 Pace
From 30k to 35k, Kipsang ran 14:33, from 35 to 40k,he ran 14:38. That’s a pretty special final 10km segment from 30k to 40km of 29:11. 29:11 is 2:03:08 pace. From 40k to the finish, he picked it up as from 30k to the finish, he ran 15:28 for the final 12.194988 km which is 2:02:43 pace.
3) As Good As Kipsang Is, Sorry BBC, We Can’t 100% Say He’s The #1 In The World
After Kipsang crossed the line first, the BBC’s Steve Cram (or was it Brendan Foster) declared of Kipsang, “He’s #1 in the world and no one can doubt it.”
That statement is up for debate.
The winner of London is almost always unofficially the world #1 as the quality of the field is absurd. If it wasn’t for a terrible pacing mistake at the 2012 Olympics where Kipsang ran the third 5k in a suicidal 14:11, Kipsang likely would be the Olympic champ and world record holder in addition to the winner of today’s race. He’s the #1 in our books but we definitely believe that claim can be doubted.
The guy who received the #1 world ranking from Track and Field News in 2013, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, was pretty darn good last year.
In January, he won his debut in 2:04:45 in Dubai. In April, he won in Boston and then at Worlds in September, he won silver. This year on Valentine’s day, he won the richest half-marathon in the world – the RAK Half in 59:36. Desisa’s clearly on top of his game.
The world #2 last year, Dennis Kimetto, was undefeated on the year at 26.2 and won two majors last year in Tokyo (2:06:50) and Chicago (2:03:45).
Both of them will race Boston next week. If one of them wins Boston, they both like Kipsang can claim to be the world #1 right now. It’s like the “best pound for pound fighter” label in boxing – something that will almost always be up for debate.
Another guy who is pretty good is Eliud Kipchoge who won a windy Rotterdam today in 2:05:00. The former world 5,000 champ has run three marathons in his life.
April 21, 2013 – 2:05:30 Win in Hamburg
Sept 29 – 2:04:05 – 2nd to Kipsang in Berlin
Today in Rotterdam – 2:05:00 Win.
4) Kenenisa Bekele Was A Big Winner Today
World 10,000 record holder Kenenisa Bekele avoided the big names and won his debut in Paris last week in a new course record 2:05:03. If a bunch of guys in London had crushed that time, that win would have lost a lot of its luster. Instead, just two people ran faster than his Paris time and Paris is viewed as a slower course. One of them was Stanley Biwott and that only helps Bekele as Biwott had the Paris course record before Bekele broke it last week.
As a result, it’s safe to say the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon went about as well as Bekele could have possibly hoped.
5) Mo Farah Debut Was So-So But He Deserves A Lot of Props
Say what you want about Mo Farah’s performance, but give him major props for a) taking his disappointing run like a man and b) showing up in London in the first place.
Farah did not go with the lead pack or break the British record, but his performance wasn’t awful. Going out behind the lead pack doesn’t make good television but going out in 14:21 is just stupid. Get any notion out of your head that if Farah had gone with the leaders at half-way he would have won today.
In the end, he ran 63:08 – 65:13 and finished three seconds behind Boston and New York course record holder Geoffrey Mutai and two seconds behind the guy who held the London course record until today, Emmanuel Mutai.
More impressive than who he finished near were his post-race comments to the BBC. While the commentators seemed to think Farah should immediately focus on reviving his track career, Farah refused to give up on the marathon and back down from a challenge.
“It was pretty tough, I’m quite disappointed. You know you try things and they don’t work – at least you give it ago. I think I should have gone with the front group. I think it would have been nice to see the group. But life goes on,” said Farah to Jonathan Edwards.
“100% (I’ll do another one). I’m not going to finish it. I’m not going to finish it (the marathon) like this,” said Farah.
Also Farah perfectly said why he ran London and didn’t do what something like what Bekele did.
When asked if perhaps he should have started his marathon career with an easier choice than London, which arguably had assembled the greatest field in men’s marathon history this year, Farah said, “London, this is my city. It would be wrong to do any other marathon. I had to do it.”
One of the reasons why track and field and road running isn’t more popular is normally the stars do their very best to avoid each other. Mo Farah certainly didn’t do that and the fans benefited.
6) Here’s a Crazy Story For You – Emmanuel Mutai Passed Out In His Bathroom Last Night And Still Ran 2:08 Today
A messageboard poster found shared these tweets they found on twitter:
@one4onesports: Emmanuel Mutai; ‘didn’t feel good throughout the race. I went to the bathroom last night and fainted. Found myself on the floor’ 13
@one4onesports: ‘I hurt my head, hip and shoulder. I decided not to tell anybody as it would just worry too many people. I found myself struggling at 30 23
@one4onesports: But when Mo passed me I thought: no way I am losing to him and looked for all I have. Sorry I couldn’t do better. Don’t feel good now’ 33
It’s funny as we noticed Mutai holding off Farah late in the race and when we saw that it reminded us of NCAA action when a guy at NCAAs is having a bad day and fading, until he sees a rival from his conference and then he’ll kick it in to make sure they beat them. Mutai was 39 seconds up on Farah at 35k but was caught by 40k, yet found the reserve to beat him at the end.
7) It’s Time for Majors like London To Consider Getting Rid of Rabbits – (If They Are Going To Have Them, Make Sure They Actually Help The Race)
Maybe have a rabbit every other year (so one sex has one) as races with rabbits can end up being incredibly boring. What a bummer to not have Mo Farah in the lead pack from the gun.
If they are going to have them, make sure they run the right pace. They literally should mark off every 400 for the first 5k so the pace starts spot on. The last two years, the rabbits have done their best to ruin the men’s race in the first 5k. It is better for the rabbits to be slow at 5k than fast.