August 22, 2015
BEIJING — The 2015 World Championships men’s marathon did not live up to its billing as the four huge stars in the race, world record holder Dennis Kimetto, world/Olympic champ Stephen Kiprotich, arguably world #1 Wilson Kipsang, and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia were all left off the podium, as 19-year-old Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea got the win and Eritrea’s first world gold ever in 2:12:27, as Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia (2nd in Boston this year) was second, and Solomon Munyo Mutai of Uganda was third (2:10:42 pb).
In the warm conditions of Beijing, this one was slow as the leaders went through halfway in 66:55. The stars were still there at that point, but in the second half the apple cart was upset.
The big move was made by a total unknown, Lesotho’s Tsepo Ramonene, who only had a 2:16 best coming in. Ramonene opened up a gap just before 30km, and then would extend it to over 25 seconds. It was amazingly brave running, and he clearly was having the race of his life. The chasers then started going after him, and as they strung out after Ramonene, the biggest stars were missing from the chase group. Ramonene still led, but at one point came to a stop when he was getting his water bottle shortly before 35k. He continued running, but his time up front was soon going to end as he was overtaken by Ghebreslassie and Tsegay of Ethiopia. Ramonene would end up fading to 14th in 2:17:17.
It was now a two-man race for the gold and Ghebreslassie had no problem pulling away from Tsegay. There was still a little drama left as when Ghebreslassie neared the stadium, he put up his hands, indicating he didn’t know where to go. He kept following the pace car and soon entered the Olympic stadium.
The finish was unusual as the runners did not run a full lap in the stadium, they just ran a quick 100m to the finish line. The only problem was no officials were standing at the finish line, there was no tape for the winner to cross and NO ONE in the top 10 knew the race was over. Everyone in the top 10 kept running around the turn and only realized the race was over when they almost ran into heptathletes doing the high jump. Truly unfortunate for such a prominent race. The officials should have been standing at the line with a finishing tape.
Quick Take #1: The Marathon is Unpredictable
No one could have predicted this one
QT #2: The Finishing Debacle was Unacceptable
If the IAAF wants track and field to be considered a major sport, it needs to take care of details and worry about presentation. The finish of a major marathon needs to have a finishing tape. A major marathon needs to be broadcast from start to finish. The official IAAF television broadcast kept jumping to round 1 of the heptathlon and missed when Ramonene was overtaken.
QT #3: Ghebreslassie Steps up Big Time as Does the Italian-Trained Solomon Mutai
Ghebreslassie, officially only 19, was a pacemaker at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last year. The fact that after pacing he kept racing and finished sixth should have indicated he had a bright future in the marathon. No one predicted today’s victory but it was a very impressive run. Ghebreslassie clearly is a talent – he’s represtented by Jos Hermens, who was seen giving him a water bottle out on the course.
As for the bronze medallist, Solomon Mutai is a 22-year-old from Uganda who came into this race after finishing 4th in Hamburg in a 2:10:42 pb. He’s coached by Italian Giuseppe Giambrone and is part of the Tuscany Camp. From going to tusancycamp.com, it looks like you can be part of the team as well as according to Google Translate – “The project Tuscany Camp aims to create a logistics base of excellence to be made available to young talents and established champions in middle distance and background, belonging to any nationality, manager or team, a complete service from the environmental point of view with paths excellent training, logistic-organizational, Health, Psychology, Physiotherapy, Relief. All services at subsidized rates or free.”
QT #4: Ramonene may have only ended up 14th but his run was very impressive.
Lesotho’s Tsepo Ramonene was the big story in the race after the medallists, opening a big gap on the field late in the race despite only having a 2:16 pr coming in, before fading. The distance he put on the field, showed he is much better than a 2:16 guy.
Afterwards he said (video below), “I was determined to lead the race. I tried to push, I wasn’t thinking I could win the race… My plan was to lead to push hard, hard, hard… If they catch me, they catch me.”
When we remarked he ran more like a 2:06 runner than a 2:16 runner he said, “I think I’ll be there soon if I can get more support from my country.”
Quick Take #5: Good news, Meb fans: a 41-year-old got fourth today
Italy’s Ruggero Pertile spent much of the race at the front of the pack and wound up a very impressive fourth overall, ahead of studs like Stephen Kiprotich, Lelisa Desisa and all the Kenyans. Pertile, whose PR is 2:09:53 from 2009, turned 41 two weeks ago and served a reminder that anything can happen in a hot championship marathon. Many have questioned whether it would be possible for Meb Keflezighi, who turns 41 next May, to challenge for a medal at next year’s Olympics (assuming he makes the team). Well considering that Meb already has two top-four finishes in the Olympic marathon and it figures to be quite warm in Rio next year, we’d say he’s certainly got a shot. And remember, this field was loaded by World Championship standards — very comparable to an Olympic marathon field. If a 41-year-old can place fourth against this field, who’s to say Meb can’t medal next year?
Quick Take #6: What Sammy Wanjiru Did at the Beijing Olympics Was Even More Impressive After Today’s Run in Similar Conditions.
Here’s what we wrote about Wanjiru in our preview:
Remembering The Late Sammy Wanjiru And 2008
We would be remiss to talk about a global championship marathon in Beijing and not mention Sammy Wanjiru’s historic run from the 2008 Olympics where he said “screw it” to the heat and tactics, taking off at a suicidal pace and winning gold in an Olympic record of 2:06:32. Wanjiru broke the mold that day and changed the world of marathoning forever, setting a precedent by taking control with a hot early pace and moving to the marathon at an earlier age. You can read our recap of Wanjiru’s 2008 victory here and see the homepage from that day here.
Defending World and Olympic Champ Stephen Kiprotich 6th
Kiprotich is a class act. The reigning Olympic and World Champ did not know what place he finished until we told him (6th), but he made no excuses and was pleased with the run. He was happy for his countryman Mutai to get the bronze. He said, “That’s (6th) good… I gave my best… Beating the world’s best is not easy.”