2019 TCS New York City Marathon Elite Fields Released: 4 Thoughts On This Year’s Race, Which Includes US Olympians Des Linden and Jared Ward

By LetsRun.com
August 6, 2019

The TCS New York City Marathon announced its 2019 elite field on Tuesday (full list here and at the bottom of this document). Headliners include defending champions Mary Keitany and Lelisa Desisa, 2017 NYC champ Geoffrey Kamworor, 2019 Boston champ Worknesh Degefa, and Americans Des Linden and Jared Ward. Half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei is also slated to make her marathon debut.

Neither field is deep, but there is some star power at the top, particularly in the women’s race, which features three reigning World Marathon Majors champions. Keitany, the second-fastest woman of all time (2:17:01), produced one of the finest runs in NYC history to win last year’s race by 3:14 after an astonishing 66:58 second half. She’ll be joined by Degefa (2:17:41 pb, #4 all-time), who built up a big early lead to win Boston in April, and another Ethiopian, Ruti Aga (2:18:34 pb, #10 all-time), who won Tokyo in February. Linden, Kellyn Taylor (2:24:29 pb), and Sara Hall (2:26:20 pb) lead the US contenders.

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All three men involved in last year’s dramatic finish — Desisa, runner-up Shura Kitata, and third-placer Kamworor — are back in 2019, as is fourth-placer Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia, an Olympic bronze medalist in 2016 (10k) and World Championship silver medalist in 2017 (marathon). Ward, who ran 2:09 to finish 8th in Boston in April and was the top American in NYC last fall (6th), is the top domestic entrant.

We have four thoughts on the field, which we share below.

1) These fields are pretty shallow

The men’s field only has three sub-2:06 guys and four sub-2:08 guys. That’s hardly any.

There have been 15 Abbott World Marathon Majors (not counting Worlds) held since the start of 2017 and the average number of sub-2:08 guys in each field has been nine. The lowest number of sub-2:08 guys in any of those fields has been six, and yet NY only has four.

Since Tokyo was added to the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2013, 42 of the 43 majors (not counting Worlds/Olympics) have been won by someone with an Olympic medal or a PR under 2:08 (Yuki Kawauchi won Boston in 2018 with a 2:08:14 pb and without a medal), so by that count there are only four potential winners in NY this year.

NY not attracting the fastest or deepest fields is nothing new. Of all the majors, New York has had the lowest number of sub-2:06 and sub-2:08 guys in its field every single year since we started keeping track in 2017. 

PRs of Men’s WMM Entrants Since 2017
Marathon Sub- 2:04 Sub- 2:05 Sub- 2:06 Sub- 2:07 Sub- 2:08
2019 NY 0 3 3 4 4
2019 London 2 8 10 10 11
2019 Boston 0 5 6 12 15
2019 Tokyo 1 5 8 10 11
2018 NY 0 3 4 6 6
2018 Chicago 0 3 5 9 11
2018 Berlin 2 2 5 5 6
2018 Boston 0 3 6 9 10
2018 London 3 3 7 7 9
2018 Tokyo 1 4 7 7 7
2017 NY 1 3 3 5 6
2017 Chicago 2 3 5 7 7
2017 Berlin 4 4 5 6 6
2017 Boston 1 5 7 9 10
2017 London 1 3 6 6 7
2017 Tokyo 1 5 6 10 13

One of our go-to stats in breaking down women’s WMM fields is that since the addition of Tokyo in 2013, all 43 WMM winners have entered the race with either a sub-2:24 pb or a World Championship medal (not counting Sarah Chepchirchir, who came out of nowhere to win Tokyo in 2017 and was subsequently busted for doping).

Only five women in the NYC field satisfy that criteria (by comparison, there were 10 such women in Boston this year), and one of them is Linden, whose 2:22:28 pb came on a wind-aided Boston course (her #2 time is 2:23:54) and who, barring flood-like conditions, likely isn’t winning another major.

That leaves four others: Keitany, Degefa, Aga, and 40-year-old Kenyan Nancy Kiprop, who is coming off a 2:22:12 pb victory in Vienna in April. History says that the winner will come from that small group.

That said, Keitany, Degefa, and Aga are all total studs who have been in great form recently. NYC could add a couple more 2:21 women to make the field look better on paper, but would that make much of a difference against three women who have each run sub-2:19? We’d rather see three incredible women in great form square off for the title than eight good women who all ran their PRs a few years ago. That being said if one or two of them get injured during their buildup, then New York has a real problem.

Domestically, NYC did pretty well with these fields considering the Olympic Trials will be held just 17 weeks later, but we’re surprised by the lack of international depth. If anything, we expected the international fields to be deeper than normal since some Americans are skipping the fall marathon season altogether to get ready for the Trials. 

2) There are 17 weeks between NYC and the Olympic Trials

17 weeks is the key number for the Americans here — almost all of whom we’re assuming will also be running the Olympic Trials on February 29 (though interestingly, Linden did not commit to running them in a piece published today on NBC Olympic Talk).

That’s actually a longer gap than in the past two Olympic cycles. In 2012, NYC was just 10 weeks before the Trials; in 2016, it was 15 weeks before. Both years, Meb Keflezighi finished as the top American in NYC and bounced back to make the Olympic team.

Obviously not every US marathoner is as good as Meb Keflezighi, but the relatively late date of the Trials in 2020 means that the Trials/NYC double is more doable than in past years (for comparison’s sake, Chicago was 18 weeks before the Trials in 2016 — just one week more than the gap between NYC and the Trials this year).

There are also several Americans who have shown in recent years that it’s possible to come back quickly for a second marathon. Last year, Galen Rupp dropped out of Boston and came back to run a PR in Prague three weeks later. Stephanie Bruce finished 11th in NYC last fall and ran a PR at CIM four weeks later.

In fact, two of the top Americans in this field have experience with quick turnarounds. Last year, Kellyn Taylor ran her PR at Grandma’s just nine weeks after dropping out of Boston. Likewise, Sara Hall won CIM in 2017 just five weeks after running a PR in Frankfurt.

3) Might Des Linden just skip the Olympic Trials and go for the $$$ in Boston next year?

Des Linden winning the 2018 Boston Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

We ask that because the following quote in an NBC Olympic Talk feature by Nick Zaccardi on Linden from earlier today caught our attention:

“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove and anything unfinished [at the Olympics]. Quite frankly, the last experience is a hard sell to get back out there to try to compete for medals when you’re not even really sure what the field is all about. It’s a little bit difficult to be excited about that with the way we are about the [World Marathon] Majors. People investing in anti-doping have really been solving that problem [at the majors]. It’s a little tricky [at the Olympics], but certainly representing your country is special.”

While we’re not sure if we 100% agree with Linden’s logic implying that the Olympics are dirtier than the World Marathon Majors since 2016 Olympic champ Jemima Sumgong was also the 2016 London Marathon champ and since doper Rita Jeptoo won Boston three times and Chicago twice, we certainly can understand why Linden might skip out on the Trials.

Linden has reached the point in her career where she has accomplished most of her biggest goals. She has made two Olympic teams and she has won a major marathon, 2018 Boston, the accomplishment that motivated her for most of this decade. 

Linden didn’t rule out the Trials, but one can understand where she’s coming from should she decide to skip them. Linden — no guarantee to even make the US team — is a fringe medal contender at best in Tokyo. At 36, she is nearing the end of her career and may want to pick up a few more appearance checks, particularly in Boston 2020, where she might garner six figures as a recent champion.

4) It was a little surprising to see Jared Ward on the list for NY, but ultimately the athlete makes the decisions

Jared Ward competing in the 2015 USA 12K Championships in Alexandria, Virginia (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Back in April, after he ran 2:09 in Boston, one could have easily assumed that Jared Ward wouldn’t be running a marathon this fall. He had run well in New York and knocked out the (at the time) all-important Olympic standard in Boston. His coach, Ed Eyestone, seemed to be leaning against doing a fall marathon.

Ward didn’t do a fall marathon before making the team in 2016, but it was clear that he was energized by his performance in Boston. A few hours after crossing the finish line in Boston, he was already hinting about lacing them up for another run this fall:

“I feel very much I’m on a marathoning high right now and there are a lot of fall marathons that I’m excited about entertaining running,” Ward told LRC. “The marathon is clicking right now and I’m excited about it.”

For a list of what marathon (if any) that most of the top Americans are doing before the Trials, go here: A look at the fall marathon plans for the top US Olympic contenders 

Talk about 2019 NYC on our messageboard: MB: 2019 TCS NYC New York City Marathon Field Released -Mary Keitany, Lelisa Desisa + Desi & Jared Ward Are In Included.

Complete 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Elite Fields

Men’s Field 
Tamirat Tola, ETH 2:04:06
Lelisa Desisa, ETH 2:04:45
Shura Kitata, ETH 2:04:49
Geoffrey Kamworor, KEN 2:06:12
Albert Korir, KEN 2:08:03
Yassine Rachik, ITA 2:08:05
Arne Gabius, GER 2:08:33
Abdi Abdirahman, USA 2:08:56
Jared Ward, USA 2:09:25
Michel Butter, NED 2:09:58
Yoshiki Takenouchi, JPN 2:10:01
Daniel Mesfun, ERI 2:10:06
Brett Robinson, AUS 2:10:55
Jack Rayner, AUS 2:11:06
Stephen Sambu, KEN 2:11:07
Tadesse Yae, ETH 2:11:50
Birhanu Dare, ETH 2:12:21
Tyler McCandless, USA 2:12:28
Mustafa Mohamed, SWE 2:12:28
Kiya Dandena, USA 2:12:56
Harbert Okuti, UGA 2:13:01
Tyler Pennel, USA 2:13:32
Tyler Jermann, USA 2:13:39
Joe Whelan, USA 2:13:39
Craig Leon, USA 2:13:40
Jarrett LeBlanc, USA 2:13:51
Brendan Martin, USA 2:15:30
Louis Serafini, USA 2:17:25
Matt McClintock, USA 2:18:03
Mo Hrezi, LBA 2:18:40
Mizael Carrera, PUR 2:19:29
Jamie Julia, PUR 2:20:17
Jorge Maravilla, USA 2:21:57
Connor McMillan, USA 2:23:28
Collin Bennie, USA N/A
John Raneri, USA N/A
Andy Vernon, GBR N/A

Women’s Field
Mary Keitany, KEN 2:17:01
Worknesh Degefa, ETH 2:17:41
Ruti Aga, ETH 2:18:34
Nancy Kiprop, KEN 2:22:12
Desiree Linden, USA 2:22:28
Sinead Diver, AUS 2:24:11
Kellyn Taylor, USA 2:24:29
Sara Hall, USA 2:26:20
Ellie Pashley, AUS 2:26:21
Belaynesh Fikadu, ETH 2:26:41
Yinli He, CHN 2:27:35
Diane Nukuri, USA 2:27:50
Buze Diriba, ETH 2:28:06
Allie Kieffer, USA 2:28:12
Mary Ngugi, KEN 2:28:33
Roberta Groner, USA 2:29:09
Gerda Steyn, RSA 2:31:04
Kaitlin Goodman, USA 2:32:08
Danna Herrick, USA 2:32:19
Lindsey Scherf, USA 2:32:19
Sasha Gollish, CAN 2:32:54
Kate Landau, USA 2:33:29
Katy Jermann, USA 2:33:41
Alia Gray, USA 2:34:00
Nicole DiMercurio, USA 2:36:03
Bizuwork Getahun, ETH 2:36:29
Bose Gemeda, ETH 2:39:15
Meseret Ali, ETH 2:40:41
Paula Pridgen, USA 2:41:29
Jennifer Bigham, USA 2:41:37
Margo Malone, USA 2:42:22
Ana Johnson, USA 2:43:11
Megan Foster, USA 2:43:44
Molly Bookmyer, USA 2:44:07
Joyciline Jepkosgei, KEN N/A

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