Kenenisa Bekele after 4th Place Finish at 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

October 12, 2014

Kenenisa Bekele’s second marathon was not as successful as his first.

After going through halfway in 1:02:11 with the leaders, Bekele was dropped around 20 miles by a pack of three that included eventual winner Eliud Kipchoge.

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Bekele held on for fourth place in 2:05:51.

For Chicago, Bekele had reduced his training from his debut in Paris. In Paris he average 180-200km a week. For Chicago, he averaged 160-180km because he felt he overtrained for Paris.

It’s back to the drawing board for Bekele who said, “I need to analyze my training,” as he searched for answers at the post-race press conference.

He said, “I’m satisfied to finish in 2:05, but of course I want to run faster,” noting that in the 2:03s was his goal.

Bekele knows his history well pointing out that for the great track runners who have transitioned to the marathon, “nobody achieved it (great success) in their first race or second (marathons).”

That was certainly the case for the two greatest track runners before Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat.

As we noted in our Chicago men’s recap:

Consider this: former world 10,000 record holder Paul Tergat ran 2:08 in his first two marathons and was second in both, including a 2:08:56 in Chicago in 2001. Bekele would have beaten Tergat by more than a half a mile today, but he was only 4th today. Similarly, Mo Farah was only 8th in London in 2:08:21 this spring.

Gebrselassie’s ran 2:06s in tbe first two marathons that he finished.

Bekele’s agent, Jos Hermens, is in the camp that the Bekele needs to do longer easy runs noting that his longest run was 40km, and he only did that once.

One thing Bekele referred to as a possible reason for his lack of success was jet lag. He didn’t discuss it in depth, but we spoke to Phil Hersh, of the Chicago Tribune, who said Bekele flew over with his wife and small children on a long and arduous journey from Ethiopia, and the flight was not easy. Bekele only got to Chicago late on Thursday.

We asked Hermens about the flight, and he said jet lag was a much bigger factor. He said Bekele did not sleep well at all last night or the night before. He said jet lag is a factor all the African athletes deal with, noting that race winner, Eliud Kipchoge, also represented by Hermens, did not sleep well two nights ago. However, Kipchoge arrived a day before Bekele and was able to get a sleeping pill that helped him adjust. No such luck for Bekele.

We’d love to hear from any scientists who might have insight on when the best time to arrive would be. We’d assume it would be well before Thursday evening. We’ve started a thread here where you can discuss jet lag.

Bekele’s post-race video below.


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