The Pro Runners Speak at 2022 New York City Marathon Media Day

Hellen Obiri Feeling Good, Keira D’Amato Ready for Marathon #4 This Year, and the Ethiopian Star Who Doesn’t Know Anything About the NYC Course (And Likes It That Way)

By LetsRun.com
November 3, 2022

NEW YORK – We’re just three days away from the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon, which means it was media day in Central Park. Galen Rupp, Keira D’Amato, Hellen Obiri, Albert Korir, and Evans Chebet were among the many pros in town today and we spoke to all of them. How healthy is Rupp? (We tackled that in a separate article here). How has D’Amato recovered from September’s Berlin Marathon? How has Obiri’s first buildup under new coach Dathan Ritzenhein been going? There’s a lot to discuss.

One other piece of news: Ben True, who finished 7th in this race in his marathon debut last year, announced today he has withdrawn from Sunday’s race due to illness. You can read his full statement here.

Now on to what we learned from talking to the pros…

Keira D’Amato is pumped to run her fourth marathon of 2022 – and her first New York and says she was fitter for Berlin than Houston

New York will be Keira D’Amato’s fourth marathon of 2022, her third in the last four months, and her second in the last six weeks after 2:21:48 to finish 6th in Berlin on September 25. That’s a lot of racing, but the effervescent D’amato is still excited to make her NYC debut.

“It’s been a really long year, but it’s also been an awesome year,” D’Amato said. “So I think that excitement through 2022 is hopefully carrying me through…The recovery from Worlds went really well and the recovery from Berlin went equally awesome.”

D’Amato felt her run in Berlin was a bit of an “off day” as she felt she was in shape to lower her American record of 2:19:12 and fell well short.

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“In Berlin I was like, if Berlin Keira would’ve raced Houston Keira, I think Berlin Keira would’ve won,” D’Amato said. 

In the weeks since that race, however, D’Amato has reframed her run as a positive. 

“I was just thankful,” D’Amato said. “I’m like, man, I’ve really grown as an athlete that that’s an off day.”

The list of athletes who have run two good marathons six weeks apart is exceedingly slim, so there won’t be massive expectations on D’Amato on Sunday even though she enters as the third-fastest woman in the field. During the last month, she focused on just maintaining her Berlin fitness, and while D’Amato said she has had a few workouts that were even better than what she did before Berlin, she won’t go into New York with any crazy expectations. Ever since breaking the AR in January, she hasn’t felt any pressure this year.

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“I don’t think anyone thought I’d make it this far,” D’Amato said. “So I feel like I’m playing with house money.”

Speaking of that American record…D’Amato no longer has it after Emily Sisson ran 2:18:29 in Chicago on October 9. But D’Amato says she’s okay with that…and that she plans on taking another run at it in 2023.

“I felt really proud [when Sisson broke the record],” D’Amato said. “For me, the journey was getting the record. It wasn’t about how long I could hold it. I knew if I didn’t break my record in Berlin, someone else was gonna break it soon…It’s a big win for American distance running in general when we can see that record broken and see us close the gap on some of those world-leading times.”

Suguru Osako talks unretiring, Japanese marathon success vs American lack of success 

While Eliud Kipchoge is clearly the fastest marathoner ever, the marathoner who has been paid the most in publicly announced prize money or bonuses is Suguru Osako. Osako broke the Japanese record in the marathon twice in the leadup to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and each time was rewarded with a 100 million yen bonus (worth roughly $900,000 when awarded, though 100 million yen is now worth roughly $670,0000 due to changes in the exchange rate).

However, trying to be the #1 marathoner in the marathon-mad Japan came with a lot of pressure and Osako announced that the Tokyo Olympics would be his final race. Yet here we are in 2022 and Osako will be toeing the line in New York after running a 61:05 half marathon PB in Newcastle in September. What happened?

Osako said that he retired because he felt there was too much pressure trying to be the #1 in Japan. He said it was “too much for me” with 50 Japanese runners under 2:10 and all vying to make the home Olympics.

But then he was watching last year’s Chicago Marathon and saw former Nike Oregon Project teammate Galen Rupp do by well finishing second. He thought it was pretty “cool” and soon was back training again. He has been running up to 140 miles a week. Speaking of high mileage, Osako said he thinks the Japanese do better in the marathon because they are used to doing higher mileage training with the collegiate season focused on Ekiden races where runners often run 20km legs.

As for his first marathon back since his retirement, Osako when asked what his goal was said, “It’s hard to say. Just be tough. Just be smart.”

The “Budweiser”* Long Shot: Daniel Do Nascimento of Brazil

Brazil has a great tradition in the marathon. Ronaldo da Costa broke the world record in 1998. Vanderlei de Lima earned Olympic bronze in 2004. And Marílson Gomes dos Santos won New York City twice in 2006 and 2008, but it has been a while since they had a contender in a World Marathon Major. Daniel Do Nascimento hopes to change that. 

The 24-year-old Do Nascimento, a Sao Paulo native, has been training in Kenya for the last few years and has shown tremendous promise and improvement in the marathon. He ran 2:09:05 in his marathon debut to make the Olympic team, where he dropped out after famously fist-bumping Eliud Kipchoge. Then he lowered his PB to 2:06:11 in Valencia at the end of 2021. He took it to another level running 2:04:51 in Seoul this year to get the Brazilian record and run the fastest marathon by anyone from the Americas.

Do Nascimento credits the simple Kenyan lifestyle, diet, and altitude for his success.

And for those of you suspicious of Do Nascimento’s rise, he was in the training group of Lawrence Cherono, who was busted for drugs this summer. But a Brazilian journalist told us once Cherono was busted Do Nascimento wanted to have no part of the group and changed groups; he now trains in Kaptagat, though not with Kipchoge’s group. We learned this info after we spoke to Do Nascimento so were unable to ask him about it.

*ESPN used to have a horse-racing show with a “Budweiser” long shot. (If you’d like to sponsor the LetsRun.com longshot, email wejo@letsrun.com)

Des Linden feeling ready to compete again

For those of you scoring at home, 39-year-old Des Linden has not run sub-2:27 in the marathon since 2019. She did run a very respectable 2:29 for 4th at the Olympic Trials in 2020 and set a 50k world best in 2021. However, since 2021 her marathons haven’t gone very well. She was 17th in Boston in 2021 and 13th this year.

Des said she had a problem with her hip that impacted her gait. She wouldn’t really call it an injury but said whatever it was, it plagued her for the last 12-18 months. She said it is behind her and her training has gone relatively well. She understands the reality of Father Time and isn’t sure how many more opportunities she’ll have to be a factor in an elite field but is ready for Sunday.

Aliphine Tuliamuk has dealt with injuries this fall, but ready to go

Aliphine Tuliamuk turned heads by winning the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020. Since then a lot has changed in the world and for her personally. COVID-19 hit and postponed the Olympics, but that was a blessing for Aliphine as she was pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Zoe in January 2021. She rushed back to run the Olympic marathon but had to drop out.

This year has been about trying to get back to the form she showed in 2020. Although her HOKA NAZ Elite team has a new coach in Alan Culpepper, she is primarily working with her old coach and HOKA NAZ director Ben Rosario. A swollen ankle caused her to miss time earlier this fall and she rushed back to race the US 10-Mile Championships, where she was 5th.  She said her recent training has been going well.

As for her goal on Sunday. “I don’t want to hold back,” she said, “I have a wish. I want to be on the podium. How do I get there? Sunday will determine.”

Tuliamuk also said she is encouraging her training partner for New York, Stephanie Bruce, to unretire. Bruce is having a strong year but is supposed to retire at the end of it.

Hellen Obiri says training for the marathon in Boulder has been “perfect”

Obiri’s plan at the start of 2022 was to focus on the roads, and through the first five months of the year, it was going very nicely. She won two of her four races on the roads to begin the year and ran a pb of 64:22 at the RAK Half to become the fifth-fastest female half marathoner in history. 

But one month before the Kenyan World Championship trials, she decided to run the Kenyan World Championship trials on a whim. She made the team and three weeks later ran a personal best of 30:10.02 to take silver – and narrowly miss gold. Obiri was very happy with the result.

“I can say I did very well at 10,000 because I had no time to prepare well,” Obiri said.

Now, four months later, Obiri is making her marathon debut. And while plenty has changed for her since Worlds – she relocated to Boulder for this buildup and changed coaches from Ricky Simms to Dathan Ritzenhein – one thing remains constant. Obiri is in monster shape.

“It has been perfect training for me,” Obiri said.

Obiri was reluctant to share splits and say exactly how well her workouts have been going, but she smiled when recalling her long runs, which Ritz will sometimes pace her for on the bike.

“I can say I’ve gone a faster pace on my long runs,” Obiri said.

While Obiri has enjoyed her time in Boulder, her family had to stay behind in Kenya for this buildup as they sort out their visa situation. She hopes that the time away will pay off on Sunday, where her goal is to win in her marathon debut.

Defending champ Albert Korir says he’s fitter than last year but that he dealt with some injuries early in his buildup

Korir said he thinks his training this year has gone better than it did in 2021 before he won New York, but he also said he battled some minor injuries in July to his hamstring and Achilles. Korir will need to be in better shape in 2021 if he is to successfully defend his title as his competition should be better this time around.

Gotytom Gebreslase doesn’t know much about the NYC course, and she likes it that way

Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase has had a very successful start to her marathon career. She won the first marathon she finished, in Berlin last year, then ran a pb of 2:18:18 in Tokyo in March and another pb of 2:18:11 to win Worlds in July. She didn’t check out the course ahead of any of those races and said she likes it that way.

“For me, it’s better not to know,” Gebreslase said through a translator.

Maybe for those three marathons, which are all flat and relatively simple. New York is anything but, but Gebreslase said she hasn’t taken a look at the NYC course yet and doesn’t plan to unless the NYRR makes everyone check it out before race day.

Word is, however, that Gebreslase and her training partner Senbere Teferi are very fit right now. We’ll see if ignorance turns to bliss on Sunday.

Shadrack Kipchirchir now with Puma and ready for his debut

Shadrack Kipchirchir was in good spirits on Thursday. First, he was sporting Puma gear after signing a sponsorship agreement with them this week. He also is ready to turn heads in his marathon debut. While Shadrack had never run a half marathon until this year, his half debut went well when he ran 1:01:16 for 4th at the NYC Half in March. He’s hoping to do one spot better on Sunday and get on the podium and has upped his long run to 26 miles to be ready for the extra distance.

Evans Chebet

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