Stanley Biwott Is Ready to Repeat, Lelisa Desisa Is Feeling Fresher Than Ever And Ghirmay Ghebreslassie Compares The Olympics To a Long Training Run

November 4, 2016

NEW YORK — The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon is two days away and the top international men were at the media center in Central Park on Friday to discuss the big race on Sunday. We caught up with defending champion Stanley Biwott, world champ Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, two-time Boston champ Lelisa Desisa, up and comer Lucas Rotich and dark horse Moses Kipsiro; read on to find out what they had to say.

We also talked to the top international women and Biwott’s coach Gabriele Rosa, who offered insight into his progression into a marathon superstar and the situation regarding his son, Federico and Biwott’s former coach Claudio Berardelli. You can read those articles below:

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LRC Dr. Gabriele Rosa Talks About Turning Stanley Biwott and Jemima Sumgong Into Marathon Stars And Doping In Kenya * LRC International women’s media availability * All 2016 NYC Marathon coverage

Defending champ Stanley Biwott says he’s ready


The men’s international elite field at the 2016 NYC Marathon

The defending champ who got into New York last night was upbeat about his chances on Sunday.

“I’m fit. I’m ready on Sunday to run a good race and to defend my title,” said Biwott. When asked if he was in better shape than last year, Biwott said we’ll find out on Sunday. “For sure, I’m in shape, but on Sunday I’ll see if I’m better than last year.”

When asked about what happened at the Rio Olympics, where Biwott was a DNF, Biwott said he was in great shape heading into Rio but reiterated that a mix-up of his bottle with Wesley Korir’s at the 25k station cost him a chance for a medal. Biwott said his and Korir’s bottles looked the same on the outside but were completely different drinks – his had a ‘sugary’ taste whereas Korir’s was a ‘citrus.’

“It brought a problem for my stomach,” said Biwott, who dropped out at 31 km (after throwing up).

Biwott said he’s forgiven the Athletics Kenya officials who crossed up the bottles. “They asked for forgiveness and we forgive them as it was difficult to identify the two bottles”’ said Biwott.

In terms of key workouts, we asked Biwott what he’d done to get ready to defend his title. He said he did a 10 by 1k at 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) of altitude with just 30 seconds of rest between the sets, with the 1km segments in 2:50.

When asked by another journalist what the key was to Kenya’s success in the marathon, Biwott replied, “We have talent – talent that God gave us.”

We also asked Biwott about American Galen Rupp. Biwott called Rupp “a strong guy” whom he thought would “run good in the marathon.” He said he thought Rupp could run 2:04 – maybe even 2:03 – for the distance.

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie says he’s recovered from Rio, comparing the Olympic marathon to a long training run

The world champion Gebrselassie has the most difficult job of anyone in the field, coming in after a fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics. Gebrselassie is not worried about being recovered from Rio saying the pace during the Olympic marathon was not that fast and that it was more like a long training run (he ran 2:11:04, roughly 5:00 mile pace for those of you scoring at home).

“In Rio, the pace was not so strong. The pace just was like what we do in long run at the high altitude,” said Ghebreslassie.

He also said finishing fourth off the medal stand did not bother him too much as it is an honor to compete at the Olympics.

Lelisa Desisa is over his Olympic snub and ready to go in New York

Desisa had arguably the best resume of any Ethiopian marathoner during the past Olympic cycle, but he lost to countryman Lemi Berhanu Hayle in Boston in April and was left off the Ethiopian team for Rio. That, obviously did not sit well with him. Desisa said that after the team was announced he was “very, very” sad, but his coach Haji Adilo, said that Desisa got over it in September and now he’s focused in on winning New York in his third appearance (he was second in 2014 and third last year).

Desisa ran four marathons last year, nearly unheard of someone at his level, but he hasn’t run one this year since Boston in April. Desisa believes he is in better shape this time around as he’s fresher (in 2015, he had just 10 weeks between Worlds and NYC).

We asked Desisa, who is Oromo, about the recent ethnic violence against his people in Ethiopia. He said that he knows it’s happening but that his family has not been affected and he doesn’t fear for their safety. Desisa had no opinion on Feyisa Lilesa’s Olympic protest.


Lucas Rotich

Lucas Rotich has something to prove in his second World Marathon Majors appearance

26-year-old Lucas Rotich, who trains with Patrick Sang’s group that features Eliud Kipchoge in Kenya, wants to make a statement on Sunday.

“Coming into this race, I want to really show that people – I need to prove this Sunday that I can do well in the World Marathon Majors – not just the small [marathons],” said Rotich who has twice run 2:07 in the marathon but was only 8th in Chicago last year (2:13:39) in his only Abbott World Marathon Majors appearance.

When we asked Rotich if he was concerned by the fact that he only ran 63:27 for a half-marathon in September, Rotich said he was not.

“If I run poor in the half marathon, I then go to the marathon and think I’m going to run a good one,” said Rotich who pointed out that when he won the 2015 Hamburg Marathon in 2:07:17, he only ran 64:10 for a half-marathon during his buildup. Similarly, in 2014, he was the runner-up at the Amsterdam Marathon 2:07:18 after running a 62:24 half-marathon.

Rotich said he wants to see a fast pace on Sunday.

“I need the race to go faster from the beginning,” said the former 12:55/26:43 track runner, who added that he wanted the winning time to be under 2:10. “My program has been going well. No injuries. I am fit enough for Sunday. My goal is to win. I think everybody wants to win. I can’t be here and say I want to be number 5 or number 6.”

Moses Kipsiro Ready for Crack #2 at Marathon

Moses Kipsiro has super track (12:50 5000m, 4th at Olympics) and cross country (3-time top-4 finisher at World XC) credentials but struggled badly in his marathon debut in Hamburg in April (2:15.48). He said that his debut can be discounted as he was not healthy, having suffered from typhoid and malaria. He wanted to pull out but it was too close to the race so he ran anyway. He said his training is going well. The world cross country champs are next year in Uganda, and Kipsiro may run them. He encouraged all of you LRCers to come to Uganda to watch, promising good hospitality.

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