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
November 6, 2018
Stat of the Week
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.
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).
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
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:
|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|
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
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.
@letsrundotcom Have you already forgotten about Catherine Ndereba? Two world titles and a silver. two Olympic silvers. Four Bostons. Two Chicagos. World record.
— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) November 4, 2018
Hersh actually believes Ndereba is the GOAT (greatest of all time) of women’s marathoning.
1 / I wrote in 2008 that Catherine is the GOAT, and I still believe that. I weigh performances in global championships highest because racing people, not the clock, is the essence of the sport. Keitany has no world or Oly mara medals.
— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) November 5, 2018
3/ I admit Radcliffe case as GOAT is strengthened by her having beaten Ndereba in 05 worlds and 02 Chicago. But Ndereba finished far ahead of a physically subpar Radcliffe in both the 04 and 08 Olympics. Getting to the big race in good health is part of the deal.
— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) November 5, 2018
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.
|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|
|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.
“Winner Leaves the Pack Out of the Picture”
Running has a problem with publicity because of headlines like this.
That winner is not a faceless African. Her name is Mary Keitany, she has won NYC 4x and she is one of the greatest marathoners of all time. pic.twitter.com/BUWsjUPM7V
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) November 5, 2018
If some unknown golfer won the Masters by 10 strokes, the headline would be "[Golfer's Name] Leaves the Pack Out of the Picture."
So what if not everyone knows Keitany? Teach us.
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) November 5, 2018
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. 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.
- Runner’s World: Where Are the Sub-2:10 U.S. Marathoners? Besides Galen Rupp, not American has gone sub-2:10 since Meb Keflezighi did in 2014. However, that could change this weekend in NYC where the field has eight Americans with PBs 2:13 or faster.
- The NY Times: NAZ Elite – Where Training For The NYC Marathon Is A Reality Show
- NY Times: After Boston, Des Linden Tries To Conquer New York Talking about leaving the Hansons and being coached by Walt Drenth she said, “I felt like I’m at the point where I’m at a plateau, and this is a chance to really take a risk and see if I can’t hit a little higher peak. Let’s see if there’s something else we can squeeze.”
- Runner’s World Catching Up With Shock Runner-Up At Boston Sarah Sellers Ahead Of The NYC Marathon Since finishing 2nd in Boston, Sellers has picked up a sponsor, but is still working full-time as a nurse. She thinks if she has a good day she can run in the 2:30s.
*MB: Sarah Sellers: “No matter what I do next, I’m going to be a disappointment to people.”
- RunWashington.com: After Getting Lost And Going To The Hospital With Heatstroke Last Year, Jeff Stein Bounced Back In 2018 To Win The Marine Corps Marathon Stein, a 32-year-old public defender won the race in 2:22:49 and said he could only got to do real marathon training the last three weeks because his time has been taken up by a quadruple murder case.
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
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