Week That Was: Were the American Men Any Good in New York? Keitany vs Radcliffe vs Ndereba for GOAT

The Week That Was in Running – October 29 – November 4, 2018

By LetsRun.com
November 6, 2018

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Questions, comments, or a tip? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post on our forum.

For full coverage of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, see our special section: 2018 New York City Marathon.

Stat of the Week

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66:58 – second half split for Mary Keitany, who won the women’s race in 2:22:48, at the 2018 New York City Marathon.

66:59 – second half split for Jared Ward, who took top American honors in sixth in 2:12:25.

The 2018 New York City Marathon By The Numbers

0 – number of Americans that finished within 1.2 miles of men’s champion Lelisa Desisa in New York. Top American Jared Ward crossed the 25-mile mark at 2:06:18 — 20 seconds after Desisa finished the race. Ultimately, he finished sixth in 2:12:24, 6:25 behind Desisa. For comparison’s sake, when Ward was sixth at the 2016 Olympics, he was just 2:46 behind Eliud Kipchoge.

Mary Keitany was amazing in New York

Mary Keitany was amazing in New York

1 – number of American men that ran the second half of the 2018 New York City Marathon faster than women’s winner Mary Keitany. After a 66:04 first half, Scott Fauble came home in 66:24 to grab 7th.

4 number of American men that finished in the top 10 in New York. That’s a stat that sounds good, but in reality doesn’t mean all that much. The reality is that only eight men on the start line had ever run under 2:10. Seven of those eight men were African (the other was 41-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, who last broke 2:10 in 2012), and five of the seven finished in the top five spots (Festus Talam of Kenya was 8th and Alphonce Simbu of Tanzania dropped out). So all of the African stars who finished wound up in the top 10. But after that, there wasn’t much international talent, which meant that it was hard for the US not to put three or four men in the top 10.

6 – number of men that ran the second half of the 2018 New York City Marathon faster than women’s winner Mary Keitany (the top 5 plus Fauble).

MB: WEJO, ROJO how many men in the top 20 ran slower than Mary Keirant 2nd half ? 

Instagram Post of the Week

While we were far from being super impressed by the US men’s showing in New York, Jared Ward was very encouraged by the US men’s showing.

View this post on Instagram

Yesterdays NYC Marathon was a team event. I ran the whole race within a few seconds of an American teammate. 1.5 miles in I found myself in front with @sfaubs, we paced the rest of the race differently but finished 4 seconds apart. I had a few encouraging words with @skiptoob early, and then reconnected with him for miles 10-24. I ran next to @cderrickrun for almost the whole race. We shared water bottles and worked together on the pace and race plan. I was motivated over and over by these guys I raced with. We are all competitors and the race to the finish line is against each other, but it is also with these guys. I took a lot of pride in having 4 American runners in the top ten, and a good handful of other American runners in this race that could be there on the right day. The “State of American Marathoning” has been knocked at lately. Skeptics claim we have Rupp and then no one else. I disagree. While Rupp is on a different level, we have guys closer than the clock has said. Shaddy has recent performances that I believe translate to 2:09 on a fast course in good condition. Derrick and Faubs have run 2 marathons a piece, and as they become familiar with this distance they are only getting better. Others yet that weren’t in this race, or had an off day. I’m looking for a healthy 2019, and to use this race as a base for the next 2 years of training. The race for the Olympic team will be a competitive race with and against friends. I don’t know who will be on that team, but when we send 3 guys to Tokyo they are going to be good. #tokyo2020 ?: @citiusmag @sportsillustrated

A post shared by Jared Ward (@jwardy21) on

MB: Jared Ward tells LRC trolls to shut it  

MB: It’s ridiculous that the East Africans at NY run about 2:06 and top American is 2:12 

Comparing Geoffrey Kamworor in New York in 2015, 2017, and 2018

2017 New York City Marathon champ Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya battled for the win late, but in the end he had to settle for his lowest finish ever in New York — third.

It can be argued that the least impressive run of Geoffrey Kamworor’s three NYC appearances came in 2017 when he won the race. Check out the stats below:

2015 2017 2018
1st Half Split 66:49 66:09 63:59
2nd Half Split 63:59 64:44 62:27
Split from 20 miles to finish 28:49 30:17 29:29
Total time 2:10:48 2:10:53 2:06:26
Finishing Place 2nd 1st 3rd

What does it mean to win a marathon? Obviously, it means you beat everyone else in the race, but just because you win a race that doesn’t mean you ran your best race ever. Similarly, sometimes you lose and run better than when you win.

Comparing the Marathon Careers of Catherine Ndereba, Paula Radcliffe and Mary Keitany

Catherine Ndereba at the 2017 World Champs

Catherine Ndereba at the 2007 World Champs

In our writeup on the women’s race in New York, we initially wrote the following about Mary Keitany:

In the discussion of the greatest female marathoner in history, it’s Paula Radcliffe, with her ridiculous 2:15:25 world record, at #1, and Keitany at #2. There is not a close third.

Veteran Olympic journalist Phil Hersh responded on Twitter, pointing out that we forgot about Catherine Ndereba — a big gaffe by us, particularly since LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson helped set the pace for Ndereba when she set her 2:18:47 WR in Chicago in 2001.

Hersh actually believes Ndereba is the GOAT (greatest of all time) of women’s marathoning.

So along those lines, we thought it would be fun to compare the three.

Before we get deep into the stats, let’s start with a question. What do Paula Radcliffe, Mary Keitany and Catherine Ndereba — the three greatest marathoners in history — have in common?

None have ever won an Olympic gold medal.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s give you the key stats for all three.

Ndereba Radcliffe Keitany
Major wins including WCs 8 (2 WC) 8 (1 WC) 7
Runner-ups at majors including OGs/WCs  8 (1 WC, 2 OGs) 0 2
Third places at majors including OGs/WCs 1 1 2
Sub-2:22 showings 5 5 3
Sub-2:20 showings 3 3
World records ^ 1 (2:18:47) 3 (2:17:18, 2:15:25; 2:17:42) 1 (2:17:01)
Win rate 33% (9/27)  61.5% (8/13) 50% (7/14)
Win rate during prime ^^ 50% (9/18) 80% (8/10) 50% (7/14)
Head to Head ^^^ 2-5 vs Radcliffe 5-2 vs Ndereba N/A

^ Keitany’s 2:17:01 and Radcliffe’s 2:17:42 were world records for women’s-only races
^^ We said their prime was all marathons recorded up until their last win.
^^^Radcliffe beat Ndereba to win 2002 Chicago (Ndereba was 2nd), 2003 London (Ndereba was 2nd), 2005 Worlds (Ndereba was 2nd), 2007 New York (Ndereba was 5th), and 2008 New York (Ndereba was 5th). Ndereba beat Radcliffe at the 2004 Olympics (Ndereba was 2nd, Radcliffe was a DNF) and 2008 Olympics (Ndereba was 2nd and Radcliffe was 23rd).

Looking at those stats, it’s clear to us that Hersh is correct in that Ndereba’s career marathon accomplishments are better than Keitany’s. At this point, Keitany should be considered to have the third greatest marathon career in history.

But in terms of who is the GOAT, unlike Hersh, we’d say Radcliffe. Her 2:15:25 world record plus her superior win rate and head-to-head record give her the edge over Ndereba.

Poor Headline Of The Week

The New England Patriots played on Sunday Night Football last week, and as a result, LetsRun.com writer Jonathan Gault spent Sunday night in New York instead of traveling home as he wanted to make sure he could watch his beloved Patriots play.

On Monday morning, he was disturbed to pick up a copy of the New York Times, which heralded Mary Keitany’s DOMINANT win as follows.

Considering the fact that “Winner” is six characters and “Keitany” is seven, it would have been nice (and easy) to call her by her name.

MB: NY Times disrespected Mary Keitany today with its marathon headline. Was it also racist? 


While the headline for the New York Times marathon coverage left something to be desired, the actual race coverage for the Wall Street Journal was off the mark. Check out how they described the men’s race.

The men's race was exciting but not quite this exciting as Desisa didn't take the lead in the final .2.

The men’s race was exciting but not quite this exciting as Desisa didn’t take the lead in the final .2. In the defense of Rachel Bachman, the WSJ reporter who wrote the story, the NYC Marathon’s media leaderboard inaccurately stated that Kitata was two seconds ahead at the 26-mile mark. But if you go back and watch footage of the finish, it’s clear Kitata was never in front at any point once Desisa took the lead during mile 26.

We often rely on the race splits on our race recaps, but we’re glad we didn’t in this case.

Recommended Reads

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

Other News Of Note

LRC Matthew Centrowitz Has Left The Nike Oregon Project After running the 5k this morning, Centro revealed exclusively to LRC that he has left the NOP. Now both its Olympic gold medalists, Centrowitz and Farah, have left the program. *Discuss

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

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