In winning the 2010 ING NYCM, Gebre Gebrmariam showed the cunning of a veteran road racer, which he is. He also was debuting over 26.2 miles, and he won, going away, with 64 second lead at the finish! In the process, he defeated the world record holder in the marathon.
Here is how the race was won!
What captured the attention of the world will be three stories on the Men's side:
Edison Pena, the Chilean miner who willed himself across the finish line, walking most of the last ten miles or so, waving to the crowds who encouraged him on. With 3/10 of a mile to go, Edison Pena showed his stuff and ran across the finish line, covering the course in, well, we could not tell, as the camera man did not show Edison finishing. The poor guy, exhausted after 5:40:51 on the course, listened to the wafting sounds of Elvis singing the 'Wonders of you." Mr. Pena might be looking for some quiet place after his week in the Big Apple.
Then, there was Haile Gebrselassie, the world record holder, who, showed that he was human today, and, after running for 1:19:40, withdrew after he grimaced in pain, as he started running downhill just before mile sixteen. His right knee could not hold up. At the press conference, Haile told the assembled media, " I never think about to retire. But, for the first time, this is the day. Let me stop and do other work after this. Let me do other job. Let me give chance to the youngsters. Will I miss the race? It's hard to me, hard because, you know, I want to thank all of you." The next question was, " Haile, you are not running anymore, you are retiring right now? and his response was, "Yes." This caught many of his team by surprise.
RBR asked Toni Reavis, noted TV commentator and road racing philisopher who noted about Haile, " most people want to run a marathon, and afterwards, most consider retiring. " Perhaps, Haile was just having a day where he felt human emotions, not the emotions of a 27 time world record holder.
And the final story on the men's side today was the elite race. Here is how that played out:
A very pedestrian pace was the way the men's field left the starting line. Hitting the first mile in 5:56, then 10:56 for two miles, 15:52 for three miles, the pack of 40 hit the 5 kilometer mark in 16:26.
In this pack were Emmanuel Mutai, Moses Kigen Kipkosgei, 2009 winner Meb Keflezighi, Jorge Torres, Tim Nelson, Dathan Ritzenhein, 2 time winner Marlson Gomes Dos Santos, James Kwambai and the Moroccan duo of Abderrahim Goumri and Abderrahime Bouramdane. Oh, yes, and the center of attention was one Haile Gebrselassie, who, unbeknownst to most, was having some issues with his righ knee. Haile had a MRI on Saturday and then having the knee drained. Not the usual pre race rituals. One final note,
sitting in the back of the lead pack, with a gray hat on, was one Gebre Gebrmariam. Remember that last runner, kind readers.
This dangerous pack, with Meb, Jorge Torres and Bouramdane up front hit the 5k in 16;26,
10k in 32:00, 15k in 46:54 and ten miles in 50:09. Meb was gently controlling the action, but in reality, this part of the race was all about Haile. From the TV viewpoint, it looked like Haile was totally focused, and just staying in the middle of the road, out of trouble. Meb Keflezighi noted, regarding Haile, " he was early on, probably until about nine or ten miles, fine. I could tell at probably 11, 12 miles (he was having trouble)"
The pack, now at 24, hit the 20k in 62:08, and the halfway at 1:05:20, just under 2:11 pace. Haile was still in the center of the road, but Meb, and perhaps others, sensed he was faltering.
The 25k mark was hit in 1:17:34, and the leaders were on the Queensboro Bridge, when it happened. As the lead pack hit a downhill stretch, Haile grimaced, and stopped running. " I did not know he had dropped out." noted Meb.
But, the worlds' greatest marathoner showed, that, for today, he was both human and had human emotions.
As the downhill hit, all hell broke loose, and the ING Marathon became a race. Running 14:04 for 5k between 25k and 30k, Emmanuel Mutai, James Kwambai, with Moses Kigen Kipkosgei and Gebre Gebremariam dropped the rest of the field. In that scary 5k segment, Mutai ran a 4:26 mile!
This was where Gebre Gebrmariam showed his stuff. The 2009 World XC champion, the man who took 4th in an Olympic 10,000 meter final, was, well, jogging! As Emmanuel Mutai pushed the pedal to the proverbial metal, James Kwambai started to drop, and Moses Kigen Kipkosgei started to self destruct.
The suicidal 5k between 25k and 30k was followed up by a 15:06, where Gebre and Emmanuel broke open the race, with the next dozen runners running for dear life. The strange thing was, as Mutai pushed the pace, Gebrmariam looked even better. From 35k to 40k, Mutai was next to Gebrmariam. It just before 40k that Gebre started to move away from his adversary. At 40k, Gebre had four seconds on Emmanuel Mutai.
From 40k to the finish, Gebre Gebrmariam showed some discomfort as he put 6o more seconds between him and second place. Running 2:08:13, Gebre Gebremariam become only the fourth debut marathoner to win the ING NYCM marathoner (ironically, one second faster than one Alberto Salazar who ran here in 1981.)
In second place, Emmanuel Mutai ran 2:09:18, with Moses Kigen Kipkosgei in third in 2:10:39. In fourth place, Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco had some redemption, running 2:10:51 for his position. James Kwambai paid for his tough pace, finishing fifth in 2:11:31.
In sixth place, 2009 winner Meb Keflezighi ran 2:11:38. Meb told RBR that he was happy after his run. His coach, Bob Larsen, noted that with such short training time and considering a week of activities, Meb had done remarkably well. Marlson Gomes Dos Santos had finished seventh in 2:11:51, not a bad day for the two time winner. Dathan Ritzenhein, running with a new stride, ran well, in 8th place, in 2:12:33. in 9th place, Abel Kirui of Kenya ran 2:13:01. And in tenth place, Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco ran 2:14:07.
Jorge Torres took 11th in 2:14:57, moving back into shape. Peter Kamais had his debut, running 2:14:58 for 12th and in 13th place, Tim Nelson ran 2:15:06 for his debut. Matt Downin was 17th, as the former Madison, Wisconsin resident ran 2:20:41.
Congratulations to Gebre Gebrmariam, who has won some great championships, but also lost some close ones. Today was his day.
How do I put this race, this sport into perspective. Well, I will let Meb Keflezighi do that, when asked what is special about this sport?
"The uniqueness of this sport of distance running. I mean, distance running is something that you share. If I see Haile on the trails, or Dathan or Ryan Hall or Gebremariam, or Ramaala, I say, Hey, you're going on a run, can I join you? There is no other sport where you can do that."
Enough said. Adios from the 2010 ING NYCM Marathon . Mary Wittenberg and her crew will have a hard time surpassing the 2010 experience.