Wilson Kipsang the World’s Best Marathoner, Meb Keflezighi Impresses: Six Thoughts on the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon

By LetsRun.com
November 2, 2014

We’ve got a flash recap of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon and our six thoughts on the race below.

Twenty-six miles was not enough to separate Wilson Kipsang and Lelisa Desisa as they battled for the New York City Marathon crown.

Kipsang would win $600,000 ($100,000 for the win, $500,000 for the World Marathon Majors crown) if he could outkick Desisa.

Kipsang led coming back into the Central Park as they approached the finish, then Desisa battled back, and there was slight contact between them as Desisa took the lead. Kipsang then put in one final surge and the race was over, he was your winner in 2:10:55.

American Meb Keflezighi was the top American in fourth in 2:13:18 on a day where the winning time was the slowest since 1995 because of 20+ mph winds.

Our six quick thoughts below.

Screenshot (554) It was a great battle but Kipsang was best

1. Wilson Kipsang is the best marathoner in the world 

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After Dennis Kimetto’s world record run in Berlin and Eliud Kipchoge’s win in Chicago, we said the Kimetto might be currently the world’s best marathoner and Kipchoge the world #1 for 2014 (since he won two races in 2014). Forget about all of that, Wilson Kipsang is the world’s best marathoner and the world #1 for 2014.

In his last three marathons, Kipsang has done the following: set a world record in Berlin, won the world’s most competitive marathon, maybe in history, (2014 London) and won New York. That’s perfection.

After his victory in London in 2012, we felt like Kipsang was the world #1. Pacing errors cost him in the Olympics, but he’s been truly remarkable the last few years. The world of marathoning is full of parity. Yet after a third-place debut in Paris in 2010, Kipsang has managed to win 8 of the 10 marathons he’s run.

2. Kipsgang Was Tremendous the Final 5 Miles

How good was Wilson Kipsang today? Please realize he ran 4 of his final 5 miles in the 4:30s and then ran 62-second 400 pace from 26 to the finish.

Check out the final splits:

Mile 22: 4:37 (1:51:23) Down to 3.
Mile 23: 4:35 (1:55:58) Down to Desisa and Kipsang.
Mile 24: 4:55 (2:00:53)
Mile 25: 4:38 (2:05:31)
Mile 26: 4:33 (2:10:04)
26 to Finish : 55 seconds. That’s 62.5 400 pace.

That’s what we call some good running. The TV camera was not working for much of the final stages of the men’s race, so his brilliance was missed by most of the world. We talked to Toni Reavis, who was riding near the leaders throughout. He said Kipsang was repeatedly surging trying to break Desisa but was unable to do it. As a result, Kipsang changed strategy and saved something for the kick for home.

Was Wilson thinking of the $500,000 bonus on the line at the end? Of course he was. He said, “Yes, of course, I was thinking.. the only chance for me to win the jackpot was to win this race. That’s why I was really feeling  very strong, and I was trying to apply all the tactics to make sure that I win, yeah.”

3. Meb Keflezighi is amazing and his fans should be impressed with this run

Yes we know that Meb won Boston, but 4th today was a very good performance for the 39-year-old. We saw his brother and agent after the race, Merhawi, and he wanted to make sure we knew it was a great showing. We laughed and responded with something along the lines, “Being just a little older than Meb, you don’t need to worry about that.”

Maybe this stat will help you properly appreciate Meb’s longevity. Former American 5000 record holder Bob Kennedy is just over four years older than Meb. Kennedy ran the New York City Marathon today. He had to kick it in to beat women’s tennis star Caroline Wozniacki as Kennedy ran 3:26:17 to Wozniacki’s 3:26:33.

Meb ran a brilliant race tactically. He had the lead early and he said that was by design as he wanted to stay with the leaders as long as possible. “I tried to change the pace. I tried to lead and slow it down as I knew they’d move on 1st Avenue,” said Meb after the race, sporting a few grays in his beard.

Meb said the only thing different for his training for this race was he felt a lack of speed when he did 400m repeats in training, so he felt he didn’t have the snap in his legs. Once the big break was made after 21 miles, Meb fell back to sixth but he passed two pretty good guys the final two miles – Olympic and World Champ Stephen Kiprotich and defending NY champ Geoffrey Mutai.

Off camera, we talked to Meb’s long-time coach Bob Larsen.

Larsen said that Meb only started to “look like Meb” two weeks ago. With a slew of summer commitments, things came together very late for Meb. When things start to click for Meb, Larsen said things normally go smoothly from there. He said that wasn’t the case this year as it was up and down the last few weeks for Meb after he started to show signs of good form.

As a result, Larsen, said he really didn’t know what to expect coming into this one. He thought a 4th place showing, and one where Meb finished strong, passing Geoffrey Mutai in the last between mile 25 and mile 26, was a “really good” showing for him.

Larsen marveled at where Meb’s inner drive comes from. For a Boston champ, the difference between fifth and fourth isn’t big but for Meb it was.

While we agree with Larsen that Meb is special, it should be pointed out that the wheels were falling off Mutai at the end, who ran 5:42 from 25 to 26.

Discuss: Meb 4th, Top American Again, 10 minutes faster than 2013

4. Please realize there were three Americans in the top 10 today.

Ryan Vail was the top American last year in 13th and was 9th in 2:15:08 today as Nick Arciniaga was 10th in 2:15:39. Both were pleased with their showings as shown in the videos below. Vail will not be doing a spring marathon, but Arciniaga most definitely will as he’s hoping to run fast enough to get selected for the World Championship marathon team.

Ryan Vail post-race

Nick Arciniaga post-race

Meb in his post-race comments cited February 13, 2016, the date of the 2016 USA Olympic Marathon Trials. As things stand today, Meb will be the favorite to win the Trials at age 40.

5. Can we take back the praise we had for last year’s ESPN broadcast? This one was pretty bad.

Where to begin? Technical difficulties prevented them from going to world record holder Paula Radcliffe, who was riding alongside the leading women, and Toni Reavis, who was with leading the men, for the entire second half of the race . Even worse, the men’s TV feed was out for much of the final 6 miles. It finally started working again yet ESPN decided to go to a commercial break at the 2:06:30 mark.

Think about that. There was a mile left. People had been waiting for more than two hours for the race to be decided and had seen almost none of the race for the last 30 minutes and they decided to go to a commercial. That’s amazingly bad. It would be like going to commercial in an NFL game with two minutes left but no two-minute warning. The fantastic duel between Mutai and Kipsang over the final 10k was almost missed in its entirety.

They seemed to have learned nothing from last year.

A big part of the poor coverage is there isn’t a lot to talk about for the first half of the broadcast and yet too much during the second as two sporting events are going on at once. The elite men need to start before the elite women (and get bumped up by maybe 10 minutes) otherwise the finish of the women’s race is bound to ruin the coverage of the men’s break.

How hard can it be talk to Reavis and Radcliffe in the lead vehicles? Even if you can’t get them on video, they have cell phones don’t they?

Another small point is if they are going to interview people like NBA legend Bernard King, we are fine with that, but still show the race in picture in picture. This is a sporting event. During a basketball game when they interview someone in the stands, they don’t cut away from the game action. They still show the game.

All of these things are trivial compared to the elite men’s TV feed going out. Totally unacceptable in 2014. It used to happen when we watched as kids 30 years ago (for a much shorter period of time), but this is 2014. Have a backup plan. Show footage from the helicopter. Do something.

Discuss: TV Production People: How Hard is it to get a live shot from a motorbike that doesn’t break up
*Worst TV coverage of a marathon – scoring table

Kipsang Looks at Lilesa After Lilesa Made Contact and Retook the Lead Kipsang Looks at Desisa After Lilesa Made Contact and Retook the Lead

6. Brave Effort by Lelisa Desisa Despite Having to Use the Restroom

Lelisa Desisa was the world ranked #1 marathoner in 2014 according to Track and Field News and he made Wilson Kipsang work for it today. Kipsang tried to break Desisa and could not do it so he saved it for one final kick. As they kicked for home after entering Central Park for the final time, Kipsang had the lead, but Desisa battled back, made contact with Kipsang and retook the lead. Kipsang had a little left in the tank and was able to come back on Desisa one final time, but it was a tremendous battle.

Afterwards, Desisa said starting at 15k he really had to use the restroom and that bothered him during the race. It wasn’t clear if he was able to release his bladder. If he was able to, there is no shame in that as LRCers know.

Top 50 below, including former US Olympian Mark Coogan in 39th and two-time NYC winner German Silva in 40th.

More results here.

Top 51 Results below. (US Olympic Nordic combined gold medallist Bill Demong was 51st).

Place Name Time State Country Citizenship
1 Wilson Kipsang 2:10:59 Kenya KEN
2 Lelisa Desisa Benti 2:11:06 Ethiopia ETH
3 Gebre Gebremariam 2:12:13 Ethiopia ETH
4 Meb Keflezighi 2:13:18 CA United States USA
5 Stephen Kiprotich 2:13:25 Uganda UGA
6 Geoffrey Mutai 2:13:44 Kenya KEN
7 Masato Imai 2:14:36 Japan JPN
8 Peter Cheruiyot Kirui 2:14:51 Kenya KEN
9 Ryan Vail 2:15:08 OR United States USA
10 Nick Arciniaga 2:15:39 AZ United States USA
11 Yuki Kawauchi 2:16:41 Japan JPN
12 Lusapho April 2:16:50 Eastern Cape South Africa RSA
13 Birhanu Dare Kemal 2:18:24 NY United States ETH
14 Micah Kogo 2:18:36 Kenya KEN
15 Danilo Goffi 2:19:44 Italy ITA
16 Stephan Shay 2:19:47 CA United States USA
17 Michael Kipyego 2:20:00 Kenya KEN
18 Negash Abebe Duki 2:20:15 NY United States ETH
19 Harbert Okuti 2:22:34 NY United States UGA
20 Aron Rono 2:23:30 OR United States USA
21 Craig Hopkins 2:23:49 OR United States GBR
22 Zach Hine 2:24:10 CO United States USA
23 Lars Budolfsen 2:24:40 Denmark DEN
24 Teklu Tefera Deneke 2:25:07 AZ United States ETH
25 Lee Troop 2:25:09 CO United States AUS
26 Alex Varner 2:25:45 CA United States USA
27 Gian Luca Borghesi 2:25:49 RN Italy ITA
28 James Kelly 2:25:56 NY United States GBR
29 Jerry Faulkner 2:26:31 NY United States USA
30 Nick End 2:26:52 PA United States USA
31 Oz Pearlman 2:26:59 NY United States USA
32 Craig Curley 2:27:33 AZ United States USA
33 Denis Curzi 2:27:35 Italy ITA
34 Frank Bollen 2:28:00 Limburg Belgium BEL
35 Nils Schallner 2:28:06 MA United States GER
36 Luke Puskedra 2:28:54 OR United States USA
37 Nelson Cruz 2:29:19 Setúbal Portugal POR
38 Jaakko Nieminen 2:29:29 Finland Finland FIN
39 Chris Siemers 2:30:04 CO United States USA
40 Max Haines-Stiles 2:30:31 CA United States USA
41 Abel Villanueva Taipe 2:30:33 Lima Peru PER
42 Sebastien Bazeille 2:30:34 France FRA
43 Martin Kjall-Ohlsson 2:30:56 Norway SWE
44 Roman Weger 2:31:11 Austria AUT
45 Ben Leese 2:31:52 NY United States GBR
46 Claes Bengtsson 2:31:57 Stockholm Sweden SWE
47 Ole Kristian Heggheim 2:32:13 Norway NOR
48 Urige Buta 2:32:13 Norway NOR
49 José Gaspar 2:32:42 Sintra Portugal POR
50 Oscar Martin Perez 2:33:01 MADRID Spain ESP
51 Billy Demong 2:33:05 UT United States USA
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