Who is Ready? Who is Not? What the Pros Said at Boston Marathon Media Day
April 15, 2022
BOSTON – We’re three days out from the 2022 Boston Marathon and it’s time to get excited. The weather is nice, the trees are starting to bloom (well, some of them), and two dozen of the world’s best distance runners have descended upon the Hub for the most loaded Boston Marathon in race history.
LetsRun.com will have boots on the ground all weekend, and we had a chance to talk to a number of top athletes, agents, and coaches at this morning’s media availability ahead of Monday’s race. The B.A.A. announced two race updates, with 2017 champ Geoffrey Kirui scratching from the marathon and US 10,000m champ Emily Sisson scratching from Saturday’s B.A.A. 5K. Here are the other things we learned on Friday from speaking to Molly Seidel, Peres Jepchirchir, Geoffrey Kamworor, CJ Albertson, and many more.
Molly Seidel says she has had some privacy concerns with her Strava account but is feeling excited and fit for Boston
Seidel will run two marathons in the first seven months of 2022, with Boston on Monday and the World Championship marathon in Eugene in July, and she and coach Jon Green have built their strategy for the year around those two races.
“We were looking [at] Boston as coming into this with a lot of strength and using this to try and carry through and hone the speed for Worlds,” Seidel said. “Right now I feel like we’ve set it up really well like that, and I’m hoping that the speed’s gonna be there. Fingers crossed.”
Seidel will likely need that speed over the final, mostly downhill 10k in Boston, as that is where the race is often broken open. And with two top half marathoners leading the field – World Half champ Peres Jepchirchir and former HM world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei – the pace could get very hot at the end of the race.
Challenging for the overall win will be tough, but Seidel said she is excited to race the best in the world on Boston’s hallowed course.
“Obviously intimidated, they’re incredible, and I’ve gotten my ass kicked by Peres the two times I’ve raced her,” Seidel said. “But getting to be in a race with a huge amount of competition like that, women with incredible credentials, that fires me up like nothing else.”
Seidel’s buildup wasn’t perfect, as she dealt with a hip impingement about a month ago and had to miss the NYC Half as a result. But she’s logged multiple 130+ mile weeks since then, which you can tell by visiting her Strava page. And while it’s great for most of the running community to be able to see what an Olympic medalist does for training – transparency that Seidel says she values – recently, she has met with some of the Strava staff out of concerns that some people have been using the data to figure out where she lives.
“It can be a lot sometimes, realizing you’ve got 60,000 people following your every move and a little bit scary sometimes when people start tracking that,”’ Seidel said. “So it’s something that I’m still figuring out, honestly. And I’ve wavered back and forth on getting off the platform, mainly because of that.”
Geoffrey Kamworor is all-in on the marathon and ready to go in his Boston debut
For the first decade of his professional career, Kamworor developed a reputation as a man for all seasons. He ran 12:58 and 26:52 on the track and earned a silver in the 10,000 at Worlds, won World XC twice, and won the World Half three times. He also mixed in two NYC Marathon titles during that span, but the marathon was never his full focus.
That, says his agent Valentijn Trouw, has now changed. Boston will be Kamworor’s first spring marathon since 2014, and he has already committed to the World Championship marathon in July. At this point, he is all-in on the marathon.
And that could be a scary prospect for the rest of the field. Kamworor’s 2:05:23 pb may only be 10th-best in the field, but he ran that in Valencia in December in a race Kamworor had barely been able to train for due to an ankle injury. For this buildup, Trouw said, Kamworor did not miss a step.
While the deep men’s field is pretty wide-open on paper, one prominent agent we spoke to (not Trouw) said he views Kamworor as the favorite due to his two NYC wins and his killer speed in the half marathon – two assets that should help significantly in Boston.
Defending champ Benson Kipruto ready to take on some big names
Kipruto was a surprise winner last year, but will not be able to sneak under anyone’s radar this year. He gave the platitudes about being “happy to be back” this year. But he said his training has gone well and the goal is the same as last year — to win, despite the field being stronger this year. “There are some strong guys, but I don’t care…my preparation was good.”
CJ Albertson isn’t a 2:06 guy yet, but he’s trying to think of himself that way
Albertson has run some insane efforts in practice, including a 2:09 marathon on a treadmill in 2020 and a 2:10:28 “split” three weeks ago at the Modesto Marathon (his result is listed officially as 2:11:56, but the lead bike led Albertson the wrong way, causing him to run extra distance). Yet Albertson’s official marathon personal best is still 2:11:18 from the Marathon Project in 2020. Is he leaving his best efforts in practice? Albertson doesn’t view it that way.
“At some point, I’m gonna run fast,” he said. “Hopefully it’s on Monday.”
Albertson also had an interesting perspective when we asked about all those hard efforts in practice. They might seem crazy for a guy whose official pb is 2:11, but Albertson said his goal is to run 2:06 one day and that he tries to think of his training in that context.
“Whatever you want to be, you have to mentally be there first before you’re actually there,” Albertson said. “I want to work out and train like I am an American record holder. Because one day I’m going to be or I’ll have a shot to be in that position and those two weeks before aren’t gonna matter, it’s gonna be what I did the five years leading up to it…The workouts that I’m doing, if you look at me like an American record holder and it’s like, he’s going out and running 5:00 pace on the weekends, it’s no big deal.”
He had one of those workouts on Sunday, running 4:50 pace (2:06:43 marathon pace) for 15 miles and feeling great doing it.
As for Monday, Albertson, who led for the first 20 miles last year and ultimately finished 10th, said he will likely go out hard again but expects he will have more company this time given the strength of the field and great conditions in the forecast.
Colin Bennie is running Monday’s race for the Play Ball Foundation while his contract situation with Reebok is sorted out
Bennie was the top American at last year’s Boston Marathon, finishing 7th in 2:11:26. It is a bit of a surprise, then, that he will not be racing on Monday in the colors of the Reebok Boston Track Club. The reason why is a bit complicated. Reebok has been undergoing an ownership change, and in March was officially sold by adidas to Authentic Brands Group. Bennie’s Reebok contract was up at the end of 2021, and as a result he’s in limbo as Reebok did not want to offer a new contract in the midst of an ownership change. The new owners are still figuring out what to do with the Reebok Boston Track Club, but Bennie is hopeful that the group’s strong recent performances, such as Josette Norris’ 5th-place finish in the 1500 at World Indoors, are proof that the team is still worth supporting (he is still training with the team and coach Chris Fox in Virginia).
“There’s been good support throughout,” Bennie said. “These things just do take time.”
With no sponsor for the moment, Bennie, a Massachusetts native, will be running Monday’s race for the Play Ball Foundation, a local charity dedicated to providing sports opportunities to middle schoolers in underserved communities. Play Ball’s logo is the letters PB in large, blue font – good letters for a marathoner.
“It’s a very good thing to have on you on race day,” Bennie said.
Jake Riley and Jared Ward are hoping things turn a corner for them in Boston
Riley and Ward are both US Olympians, but both have hit some rough patches recently. They’re hoping Boston is a first step back in the right direction.
Riley, 34, had been struggling in practice and had an awful tuneup race for Boston, running 46:27 at the US 15K champs on March 5 to finish in 35th place. After searching for answers, Riley finally determined, with the help of his nutritionist, that he was underfueling between runs, which meant that he struggled to finish workouts and races strong.
Riley pointed out that he was able to go out with the pack at the 15K but just could not get his body to go faster over the final 5k when the racing picked up.
But Riley said that he has made some changes to his diet and that the last four weeks of training have gone very well.
“Since I’ve tried to fix that, things have finally started to come around,” Riley said. “My energy levels are better, I’ve been able to close out workouts better.
”Four weeks may not be enough to turn things around for a big race in Boston, though. Riley admitted that there is a wide range of outcomes for him on Monday.
As for the 33-year-old Ward, he was wondering, after a rough 2020 season, whether he might be nearing the end of his marathon career. Now a father of five, Ward was feeling more tired in practice and daily live and simply chalked it up to getting older
“I just kind of thought, this is just, I guess, how you feel,” Ward said.
But in marathon years, 33 really isn’t that old. So Ward endeavored to find out what was wrong. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed Levothyroxine, a thyroid-replacement drug, by his doctor. But Ward is well aware of the stigma around thyroid medication in the running world, and for two weeks, the medication sat untouched in his cupboard. Ultimately, however, he decided that he would take the supplement – which is legal under the WADA Code and does not require a TUE – but that he would be open and honest about exactly what he was taking and why ( this Instagram post has more details). So far, Ward says, the reaction has been positive from fellow athletes, who are grateful that Ward has addressed the issue in an honest manner.
“It’s around us a lot more than you might think, and for people that need it, it’s important,” Ward says.
Ward says that since taking the medication, his energy levels feel back to normal, which have made it easier for him to train – and to play with his kids. But he also said that his fatigue issues before that meant that he was not able to push as hard in practice as he would have liked, meaning he probably doesn’t have the base quite yet to get back to his best marathoning.
“I think it might take a year or two to climb back to where I’d like to be,” Ward says.
Jared Ward starting new pro group in Utah: the Run Elite Program
Utah has produced a lot of really good runners, but up until now it was not known for its pro training groups, despite being at altitude and a good place to train. Jared Ward and Isaac Wood (of the Wood Report) wanted to change that and set out to get funding for a pro running group in Utah. Mike McKell, a state senator in Utah and a big runner, said they should try to get state funding, which they did to the tune of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Wood talks about the foundation of the group below, which is designed to be shoe brand agnostic.
Peres Jepchirchir and Joyciline Jepkosgei ready to battle
Jepchirchir and Jepkosgei will battle for the title of World’s #1 marathoner on Monday. They sat next to each other in the media room and were both confident they would handle the Boston course on their first try.
Both said their preparations have gone well. While neither has run Boston, they both are New York City Marathon champions and have shown they can win non-rabbited hilly marathons.
Viola Cheptoo Lagat has found her event
Viola is the sister of 1500m star Bernard Lagat. So she naturally thought she was a 1500m runner and made the Olympic team for Kenya. But she never ran faster than 4:04. Turns out her event really was the marathon. Coming off her 2nd place finish at the New York City Marathon where she battled Jepchirchir nearly to the line, Lagat’s goal is to win on Monday, but with this tough field knows a top 3 finish would be a good accomplishment.
Ageless Edna Kiplagat discusses longevity: “This year the field is so strong, but I have no fear”
Kiplagat was born in the 1970s and she’s still a force in the pro running ranks, getting 2nd at 2021 Boston in the fall. Winning may be out of the question but it’s a strong bet Kiplagat will have a good race on Monday. She said the key to her longevity has been staying focused and not over racing. As for this year, “This year the field is so strong, but I have no fear.”
Scott Fauble doesn’t mind flying under the radar in 2022
Since Meb Keflezighi’s win in Boston in 2014, no American man has run faster in Boston than Scott Fauble’s 2:09:09 in 2019. That led to a lot of attention and expectations over the next couple of years, but also pressure.
“I sort of was the belle of the ball and I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Fauble said.
The spotlight on Fauble has faded recently, however, as he was only 16th in Boston last year and is currently unsponsored (he will race Monday’s race in a Lululemon singlet he bought himself). But it would be a mistake to sleep on him: Fauble, now working with coach Joe Bosshard, ran 61:11 in the Houston Half and knows what it takes to succeed on this course.