NYC Marathon Thursday: A Look Into The Buildups Of Defending Champions Wilson Kipsang And Mary Keitany

Kipsang: “You cannot compare Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kamworor.”

October 29, 2015

NEW YORK — The kickoff press conference for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon was held this morning. The defending champs, Mary Keitany and Wilson Kipsang, the new head of the NYRR Peter Ciaccia, and Spike Lee (grand marshal), were all in attendance. Once the pomp and circumstance was over, we tried to learn a little bit about the elite race before we learn even more at tomorrow’s elite press conferences.

Wilson Kipsang Is Not Worried About The Kenyan Olympic Selection Process

The reporters were badgering Kipsang with question after question about the recent announcement and subsequent cancellation of the Kenyan Olympic Marathon trials, which would have been held in February. Kipsang was pleased there isn’t going to be a February trials – he said if they had been held he wouldn’t have run them – but didn’t seem too worried about things. Sure, he’d love to get a chance to win an Olympic gold but it’s not an obsession for him like it might be for an American.

“In London, I got the bronze and I’m really looking forward to going for gold,” said Kipsang at first. But when asked about whether hew as nervous his DNF at August’s World Championships might hurt him in the eyes of the Kenyan selectors, Kipsang said, “I think for somebody like me, I don’t have much pressure. Whether I’m included on the team or not, I’ll know I’ll still [have races] to run.”

Kipsang_2015 Wilson Kipsang on Thursday

When asked how he would select the team if he were the head of Athletics Kenya, Kipsang said he’d narrow it down to a list of 10 guys and then talk to them and try to see if they were fit and ready to represent the country. Kipsang said he thinks announcing the team in February is a good idea as he doesn’t think judging someone off of an April marathon means a whole lot. One can run poorly in April but then very good shortly thereafter. Kipsang cited himself as an example of this as in 2013 he ran poorly (by his lofty standards) in London (5th) but set the world record in Berlin in September. Kipsang thought announcing a team in February would be ideal as then the runners would know they are getting ready for two races, one in April and one in August.

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He criticized what Athletics Kenya did for the 2015 World Championships — have six guys train for the marathon and then announce two weeks before which three were going.

As for Kipsang’s training, Kipsang said he wasn’t worried that Worlds had taken too much out of him. He said at 30k he realized it was too hot for him and it was the equivalent of a long run for him.

“I think, for me, if I try to look at the preparation for the World Championships, having not completed the race, I just counted it as a long run. If you try to see the speed of that 35 kilometers, it was just like a long run in training. So I just went and recovered a little bit and then proceeded to train. So it’s like I’ve been training all the way through for this race,” said Kipsang.

In terms of workouts, Kipsang said he’s been doing a lot of fartlek and his track sessions have been shorter this year. For example, he did 10 x 1k starting at 2:47-8 and going down to 2:45 as compared to 20 x 1 mile last year. Kipsang told me (interview embedded below) that he was pleased with the 46:42 he ran for 7th at Dam tot Damloop 10-Miler as he was just checking on his speed and was pleased he could handle 10 miles at faster than marathon WR pace (46:42 is 2:02:26 marathon pace).

When asked if he was worried about Geoffrey Kamworor’s track speed as a former track star Eliud Kipchoge beat Kipsang in London, Kipsang said he was not, “For me, I think it doesn’t worry me so much because I really believe that with my training I have that kind of speed. It depends now if he’s prepared himself very well. You cannot compare Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kamworor.”

Mary Keitany’s training hasn’t been spectacular but she has had no setbacks and should be ready to go.

I talked to Gabriela Nicola, the Italian coach of Mary Keitany, this morning and asked him about the defending champion’s training.  He said it had been “okay.” “Okay” sort of has a negative connotation for many Americans but in following up with Nicola it was clear he was pretty upbeat about how things had gone for her but that her buildup hasn’t been amazing.

While saying that there had been no workouts that were so good they were “unforgettable”, Nicolas said the most important thing was that Keitany had “no injuries” and “no sickness” during her New York buildup,. He favorably contrasted this buildup with her build up to April’s Virgin Money London Marathon, where she was second, which he said had been “very difficult.” He said to do well in a marathon you need continuity in training, health and freshness and she has all of that heading into New York.

Mary Keitany in NY on Thursday Mary Keitany in NY on Thursday

Will Keitany, who is the second fastest women in history, win on Sunday?

“We don’t know the shape of the other women and if it will be enough to defend the title but she is ready to go and do her best,” said Nicola, who added that he didn’t feel the hilly New York course was the best course for the slight and non-muscular Keitany.

Nicola also coaches Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia (2:19:31 pb). He said after the London Marathon (where she was 4th), Mergia had a “physical problem” and thus started her training for New York late. Things have gone pretty well since then and while Nicola said that her shape is “not the maximum” he felt like she was ready to do well. “I believe she is ready to finish top 3,” said Nicola.

Nicola was hopeful that this year’s race would be a “photocopy” of last year’s race in terms of pace (the first half was covered in 73:42) as he thought that would benefit Mergia. He didn’t want a dramatically slow race with an incredibly fast finish nor did he want a suicidal opening half. He’s hoping for a 72- to 73-minute first half and thinks that’s likely to happen as that’s the pace he expects the leading European women to set. He said the “only chance” the European women have for a top 5 showing is a nice steady and smooth pace in the 72-73 range and that pace is “nice for us.”

Discuss this article on our messageboard: MB: How have the buildups of defending champs Mary Keitany and Wilson Kipsang gone? We tell you.

Kipsang was quite popular today Kipsang was quite popular today
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