Martin Hehir Wins Marathon Project In 2:08:59 at 7 Americans Break 2:10

December 20, 2020

It was a historic day in the desert today, as seven Americans broken 2:10 at the Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz., obliterating the previous record for most American sub-2:10’s in one race (four at the 2012 Olympic Trials). Between a deep field (11 men with sub-2:12 pbs), perfect weather (in the 30s and 40s during the race, with almost zero wind) and terrific pacemaking, and the super shoe revolution, conditions were ripe for a very, very fast day. And the race delivered.

2:09:00 pace was the goal, and nine men were on track to do that at 35k. In the end, however, Martin Hehir, a medical student in anesthesiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College (who has spent most of the last few weeks treating Covid-19 patients) and a pro with the Reebok Boston Track Club, was the only one who could hold onto the pace, gapping the field just past 35k and winning in 2:08:59 to become the 12th American under 2:09. Noah Droddy, who had to scratch from the Olympic Trials due to injury, got a measure of redemption today in finishing second in 2:09:09, chasing Hehir doggedly over the final miles but never coming within five seconds after Hehir’s initial break. Droddy was totally spent and the finish and vomited all over the place after crossing the finish line.

Hehir’s Reebok Boston Track Club teammate (and former Syracuse University teammate) Colin Bennie was third in 2:09:38 as Scott Fauble, Ian Butler, Scott Smith, and Mick Iacofano all broke 2:10 as well.

What a day for the Reebok Boston Track Club

Martin Hehir winning The Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz., in 2:08:59 (photo by Kevin Morris for RRW)

The Reebok Boston Track Club may not be based in Boston (its athletes train in Charlottesville, Va.) and its athletes may not have been wearing Reebok today (they were in adidas shoes), but the Chris Fox-coached group had itself a day today in Arizona, going 1-3 with Martin Hehir and Colin Bennie.

Both Hehir and Bennie — both of whom were key components on Syracuse’s 2015 NCAA XC title team under Fox — ran well at the Olympic Trials, with Hehir taking 6th in a pb of 2:11:29 despite stopping for a bathroom break at mile 18 and Bennie taking 9th in 2:12:14 in his debut.

While that result suggested both were capable of more today — the course was much flatter and the weather far less windy than in Atlanta — there was no guarantee Hehir and Bennie would improve on their performances. But both Bennie and Hehir knocked over two minutes off their personal bests today, finishing first and third against a deep field.

We do have to at least mention the shoes, though. While almost every brand has their own version of a super shoe now, it should be noted that Hehir and Bennie were both in adidas shoes today (adidas owns Reebok). Why is that notable? The fastest times in the Valencia Marathon two weeks ago — Kibiwott Kandie’s 57:32 half marathon world record, Peres Jepchirchir’s 2:17:16 marathon and Evans Chebet’s 2:03:00 marathon — were all run in adidas shoes. Are adidas’ Adizero Adios Pros now the shoes to beat?

A Record Number of Sub-2:10s, As Expected

Hehir pulling away from Droddy

Heading into the Marathon Project men’s race today, many were wondering if it was a foregone conclusion that with the super fast course, ideal conditions and new super shoe era, a record number of sub-2:10 marathons by Americans in a single race would be set. When 11 racers, including 9 Americans, hit 30k in 1:31:45 or faster (that’s 2:09:02 marathon pace), it was clear the record was going to go. In the end, 7 of those 9 men – and all 7 were American – ended up breaking 2:10:00.

Top 10 Full Results here

1	Martin Hehir	 2:08:59 Reebok Boston TC
2	Noah Droddy	 2:09:09 Roots Running Project
3	Colin Bennie	 2:09:38 Reebok Boston TC
4	Scott Fauble	 2:09:42 HOKA NAZ Elite
5	Ian Butler	 2:09:45
6	Scott Smith	 2:09:46 HOKA NAZ Elite
7	Mick Iacofano	 2:09:55 Idaho Distance Project
8	Benjamin Preisner2:10:17 BC Endurance Project
9	Nathan Martin	 2:11:05
10	CJ Albertson 	 2:11:18

Ian Butler Enters Race With 65:22 Half Marathon PB and Breaks 2:10:00

The biggest PB in the top 9 went to 5th placer Ian Butler, who came in with a PB of 2:16:26 but left with a pb of 2:09:45. If you aren’t familiar with Butler’s life story of how he’s overcome two traumatic brain injuries as a child and really saved himself through running, check out this Denver Post feature on him from 2013.

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Butler going sub-2:10 was a huge surprise. Yes. his 2:16:26 came in Atlanta (he was 26th at the Trials), but 2:09 is a long way from 2:16. Heck, Butler entered the race with a 65:22 half marathon pb. Today, he ran both halves faster than that as he ran the first half in 64:28 and the second in 65:17. His 10,000 pb is just 29:49.

PBs of Those Running Under 2:11

Martin Hehir (Reebok Boston TC)  2:08:59 – 2:30 PB – Previous PB of 2:11:29
Noah Droddy (Roots Running Project)  2:09:09 – 2:32 PB – Previous PB of 2:11:42
Colin Bennie (Reebok Boston TC)  2:09:38 – 2:36 PB – Previous PB of 2:12:14
Scott Fauble (HOKA NAZ Elite) 2:09:42 – No PB – PB 2:09:09
Ian Butler 2:09:45 – 6:41 PB  – Previous PB of 2:16:26
Scott Smith (HOKA NAZ Elite) 2:09:46 – 1:28 PB – Previous PB of 2:11:14
Mick Iacofano (Idaho Distance Project) 2:09:55 – 3:52 PB – Previous PB of 2:13:47
Benjamin Preisner BC Endurance Project 2:10:17 debut

And The Canadian Olympic Spot Goes To….

Today’s race was especially important for Canadians, as it essentially doubled as a second Canadian Olympic trials. The first trials race was held in Toronto last year, but only the winner, Trevor Hofbauer, was guaranteed a spot on the team. The other two spots are discretionary, and coming in to today only one other Canadian man, Tristan Woodfine, had the standard. That meant the top Canadian — assuming they got the standard — would almost certainly book their ticket to Sapporo.

Benjamin Preisner of the BC Endurance Project is that man. The 24-year-old had a fantastic debut as he ran 2:10:17 for 8th. The fact that he likely will go to the Olympics at age 24 is crazy. 

In college at Tulsa in 2019, he didn’t even get out of the West regional in the 10,000 and his best NCAA XC showing was 72nd. His pbs coming into this one were 14:04/29:08/63:08.

Today’s race was a nightmare for Canadian record holder Cam Levins. When the pacers left at 30k, Levins took the lead and appeared to be full of run. At 35k, he was only 4 seconds back of the lead and was 24 seconds ahead of Preinser, but his final 7.195km was a disaster. He only could manage 16:58 for the next 5k and was even slower on the way home – 8:18 for the final 2.195 km (that’s 6:05 mile pace). As a result, he didn’t even get the Olympic standard as he ran 2:12:15.

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