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The Monday Morning Run

The Monday Morning Run

| On 30, Sep 2013

Photo via Creative Commons


In professional running, the Berlin Marathon and Wilson Kipsang’s world record were the only stories of the weekend. I’m devoting the entire Monday Morning Run to the race. Here are 26 thoughts on the race and the record.


1) How much did Patrick Makau’s absence help Kipsang focus on the record? In the end, Kipsang had plenty of help from his rabbits, but he also ended up receiving a push from Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kipsang. With 2 kilometers left, Kipchoge was only 10 seconds behind after Kipsang began dropping the pace. Kipchoge ended up fading and finishing second in 2:04:05, not before he provided the perfect amount of competition for Kipsang.


2) At the 30-kilometer mark, I thought the record was out of reach. It was 1:15 a.m here on the west coast, and I told myself I would stay up and watch the finish only if Kipsang’s 30K split was still on record pace. After he passed 30-k, Science of Sport projected a finish time of 2:03:48. He looked to be slowing, so I called it a night. Oops.


3) The world record drought in track and field is over, and it came in the last feasible opportunity of 2013. A month ago, Jesse Squire and I debated why this year would be record free (for the first time since the founding of the IAAF). It is still telling that there were no records inside the stadium this year, but the streak lives on.


4) Does the mean we have to have the sub two-hour marathon discussion again?


5) A 2:03:23 is worth 1,283 points on the IAAF scoring tables. How does that compare with other records? 1,283 points gets you a 12:40 in the 5,000, 26:25 in the 10,000, 3:43.81 in the mile and 9.78 in the 100. Usain Bolt’s 9.58 is worth 1,356 which equates to a 1:59:34 on the table……I guess we do have to talk about the sub two-hour marathon.


6) Read this post by Science of Sport about the likelihood of anyone cracking two in the near future. An interesting stat from the post, the last few progressions of the record have been by 23, 4, 43, 29, 27, 21 and 15 seconds.


7) The gentlemen who jumped onto the course and crossed the line before Kipsang thankfully didn’t impact the outcome of the race like the defrocked Irish priest did in Olympic marathon in Athens. His presence was more like those guys who ran around the bases after Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run. The idiot in Berlin did ruin the moment a bit, and probably crashed dozens photos taken at the finish.



8) The women’s race was completely overshadowed, but Florence Kiplagat turned in a dominant performance. She finished in 2:21:13 and beat Sharon Cherop by over a minute. The best female marathoner in the world title is up for grabs and Kiplagat, only 26, will factor more and more into consideration in the next few years.


9) Also in the women’s field, Desiree Davila finished fifth in 2:29:15. The time wasn’t near her best ever, however it is a positive step after her struggles with injuries. This is Davila’s first completed marathon since the 2012 Olympic Trials last January. Expectations were measured going into this race so her next marathon should be telling.


10) The “times vs. competition” is pretty one-sided most of the times with the majority of track and field fans favoring healthy competition over a time trial. Or so they say. Kipsang’s world record made a big splash in both mainstream media outlets and with the purists of the sport. It’s an unfair comparison due to the scope of the race, but the exciting battle between Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie in the Great North Run didn’t create anywhere near the story that Kipsang did on Sunday. Granted, world records can’t happen every weekend, so relying on them is a losing proposition, but the public has shown time and again that they will eat up any headline with the word “record” in it.


11) Running, track and field in particular, is usually very good at getting races uploaded to the web. I know it is more difficult for marathons, but the best on can find on Berlin is a two minute clip on YouTube. The man ran a world record he deserves more time!!


12) Kipsang is the third Adidas athlete in a row to hold the marathon record.


13) From the race itself, Kipsang netted $132,000. This doesn’t include his appearance fee or any other non-public bonuses. He won’t catch Tsegaye Kebede for the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors championships, but he is in good position for the 2013-2014 crown. That title will earn him an additional $500,000.


14) Philemon Rono deserves a large cut of Kipsang’s payday. The rabbit paced Kipsang through 35-k and set an ambitious yet ultimately doable pace in the early stages of the race. Before the race, Kipsang was very clear about bringing his own pacemakers with him that would support his record attempt. Rono stayed in for 83% of the race distance.


15) The rabbits were on target, but the first half was still ridiculously.



16) Interesting that the public has followed the rulebooks and discounted Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 from Boston. I didn’t see any mentions of it in articles this weekend.


17) Clarity around the record is good, and there is no doubt Mutai’s run was aided, but how do you balance the weather and course features that helped Mutai in Boston with the rabbits and the flat course that no doubt were key for Kipsang on Sunday?


18) Rui Silva, bronze medalist in the 1500 in 2004, finished 9th in 2:12:16. Silva was essentially just a 1500-meter runner until 2011.


19) Kipsang’s splits compared with Patrick Makau’s from 2011. A 23-second differential from 35-40 kilometers and a 12-second gap in the final two kilometers:


Makau’s splits from 2011


20) According to race organizers, the temperature was 46 degrees at the start and 55 at the finish. Along with Rono, give Mother Nature an assist for Sunday.


21) This performance by Kipsang was several years in the making. When he ran 2:03:42 in Frankfurt with no competition and a finish line gauntlet of turns that mirrored the American Gladiators, it was clear he could shed some seconds.


22) With so much depth it the men’s marathon it is challenging to label one runner as the best in the world. Geoffrey Mutai legitimately held that title in 2011 when he smashed two course records. Since then, it has been difficult to peg. Stephen Kiprotich is the best in championship races (Olympics and World Championships), Kebede has been the most consistent and Makau and Mutai have been in the conversation because of their past credentials.


23) How much more air time would Kipsang have receive if he gave a swift punch to the gentlemen before crossing the finish line?


24) After consulting a list of famous people with the first name of “Wilson,” Kipsang can make a strong case for number one. Still a ways to go before he becomes more popular than the volleyball.


25) If Kebede wins again in Chicago on October 13th, he probably deserves to be ranked ahead of Kipsang. He won’t get the record in Chicago, but he will have a win over a deeper field and, more importantly, he beat Kipsang head-to-head in London this year.


26) I like the World Marathon Majors set-up and the idea that it creates several marquee and big money races each year. That being said, allow me to be greedy for a moment and wish that the talent pool wasn’t always split three ways in the fall. It would be great to occasionally see the top-15 in the world line up at the same time.


  1. w.r.t. the Berlin/Great North Run comparison, it’s not quite as simple as record/competition. It’s also the magic “marathon” word. Very few road races of any other distance get the public’s attention, regardless of quality.

    • Kevin Sully

      Absolutely agree. I still thought the dichotomy was interesting. One race with all the biggest names in the sport and little emphasis on time and the other where the focus was solely on the record.

  2. Matt Guilbout

    on #7, first you refer to the guy is an ‘gentleman’ and later as an ‘idiot’? and you compare it to Aaron’s 715th? wow

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