Boston 2009-Update 6, Men-Merga, Rono, Hall learns a lot, by Larry Eder


Lots of pressure on the Americans, but the marathon is a difficult master. On the men's side, while the pace was pedestrian, the men's race went out at world record or better pace, in fact, much better than world record.

Ryan Hall took the lead, hitting the mile in 4.40 and Hall lead for six of the first ten miles. Five miles was hit in 23:38 and ten miles lead in 48.07. Hall, Robert Cheriuyot, four time Boston winner and Deriba Merga, 2009 Houston marathon champ, were up in the pack of twelve.

The pace was very tough, hitting the half marathon in 1:03.38, and by this, the men were feeling the pain of the early pace. Coach Bill Squires told us that the wind was in the runners' face most of the race.

Deriba Merga and Daniel Rono were the guys who made the move after the half way point and just past route 128, Deriba Mergo took off. By this time, Robert Cheruiyot fell back and Ryan Hall had dropped to eleventh place. Hall fought back, moving to ninth, then seventh, then fifth. At fifth, he was 39 seconds back, as Deriba Merga pushed the pace, running the miles in the four hills in the 4.45-4.48 range. Merga, who had won the Houston Marathon in January was pushing. Perhaps, just perhaps, he remembered his 2006 race, when he stopped at twenty-two miles and walked. He was not walking today.

In fact, Boston is about bold moves. Good runners, great runners learn to respect the course and come back to find victory. Deriba Merga pushed himself up the hills, broke Rono and did not stop.

Daniel Rono and Ryan Hall were in their own cold corner of hell as they fought from miles twenty-three to the finish. In the end, Deriba Merga took his biggest win, with a fine 2:08.42. Daniel Rono, fifty seconds back, in 2:09.32, held off Ryan Hall by eight seconds.

Ryan Hall is just a class act. " I was excited to throw out a pitch, as my dad was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. I tried to throw a heater (laughs), but I did not get to warm up."

Consider the final comments by two long time observers of the sport. Coach Bill Squires, who has coaches Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers and Greg Meyers: " Hey, Kara and Ryan took third in their first Bostons. They will come back and win some day. Third in your first time, on this windy day? Fantastic."

Mark Bossardet, long time running footwear executive and now a sports consultant, who has run a 2:17 marathon, made the best observation of all: " Kara Goucher is the first women I have ever seen run with Alberto Salazar's mental toughness. The race had me screaming at the television! Both races were great races! I believe that Kara is inspiring another generation of women distance runners in this country! And Ryan-he will be back! "

Boston Marathon, Top Ten Men:
Deriba Merga, Ethiopia, 2:08.42, Daniel Rono, Kenya, 2.09.32, Ryan Hall, USA, Tekeste Kebede, Ethiopia, 2.09.49, Robert Cheruiyot, Kenya, 2:10.06, Gashaw Asfaw, Ethipia, 2:10.44, Solomon Molla, Ethipia, 2:12.02, Evans Cheruiyot, 2.12.45, Stephen Kiogora, Kenya, 2:13.00, Timothy Cherigat, Kenya, 2.13.04.

Earlier in the week, Deriba Merga said that he wanted to be "the last Lion Standing." Deriba achieved his goal!

So long from Boston, time to run to the airport and get back home!

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