In a truly tactical and exciting race, the women's race kept fans of the ING NYCM Marathon on their toes! Edna Kiplagat took the win, with a daring and gutty run over the last thirteen minutes, with Shalane Flanagan in second and Mary Keitany, both in their debut! Here is how the race unfolded:
The women's elite pack, down to 21 at 15k, hit that mark in 53:54, with Mara Yamauchi trying to drop the pretenders. Kim Smith was there as was Christelle Daunay, the French record holder, and Shalane Flanagan running very relaxed. Derartu Tulu, the 2009 ING NYCM champ, was right there as well.
Mara Yamauchi, a Brit who lives in Japan and had a rough time getting to Virgin London last year, was looking for redemption. Yamauchi, who is coached by her husband, hit ten miles in 57:47. While the pace had dropped from six minute pace to 5:45, and the pack was down to fourteen, Yamauchi was not getting her desired effect.
Looking very good was 2010 BAA champ Teyba Erkesso, who runs with this long, elegant stride and very little wasted effort. Erkesso, Kim Smith, Shalane Flanagan, Katie McGregor, all looked well as the pack of 14 hit the 20k in 1:11:52. Erkesso was leading, as they passed 20k and Yamauchi began her rough day, finally finishing 13th.
Erkesso, Petrova, Buzunesh Deba, Pushkareva, Flanagan were all there, as the pack, now at 11, hit the half-way point in a pedestrian 1:15:47. This meant one thing-a fast finish!
The pack was large, and that was exemplified just before 25k (1:29:58), as Caroline Rotich, who missed her bottle at an aid station, ran back to get it. Thanks to the roominess of the aid area, no one fell down, but it was close!
Right after 25k, it was quite apparent that this was proving to be a very interesting race. Teyba Erkesso, Kim Smith, Mary Keitany and Shalane Flanagan were running up front. Debut marathoners Shalane Flanagan and Mary Keitany looked great. Derartu Tulu, last year's winner began to fall off the back, finished in fourteenth, right behind Mara Yamauchi.
Flanagan, the current AR at 10,000 meters, former AR at 5,000 meters (holds 5,000m indoor AR), looked fantastic. Confident in her training, Shalane had completed a twelve week training program, starting on August 6, and finishing this past week. " My first six weeks, at Mammoth Lakes, California, were about building up my mileage, running 110-120 miles a week. I focused on volume, which was a lot of miles for me. The last six weeks started with the Philly half, which was a glorified training run with great competition. We did sixteen to eighteen mile tempo runs, and those were my longest runs over the last six weeks. I had run about 22 miles while I was up in Mammoth."
So, it was obvious this women was prepared. But, again, the marathon can be a personal journey into Dante's nine levels of hell for some, so who knew? Shalane quoted her coach,
Jerry Schumacher, who she has worked with for 18 months, " if I could keep my shit together, I could be on the podium." Jerry had prepared her to run a 2:25 effort on the course, and they both felt that would be a podium placer. How astute Mr. Schumacher proved to be...
The pack, now down to eight, consisted of Kiplagat, Flanagan, Keitany, Abitova, Smith, Daunay, Petrova and Rotich. Hitting 30k in 1:47:13, and 2:04:39, the marathon finally got down to Edna Kiplagat, Mary Keitany and the smooth striding Shalane Flanagan.
Mary Keitany is the hottest women on the roads, non-marathon distance, in 2010. Edna Kiplagat won the Honda LA marathon and Shalane Flanagan had ARs or former ARS at 5,000m and 10,000 meters. So, who would win?
The challenge with the marathon is to get your legs to do what your heart commands. There is a time, for all marathoners, where fatigue is both physical and mental. Overcoming those two challenges are faced by all marathoners, fast and slow.
With thirteen minutes to go, the complexion of this race, which had become a very gradual decent into pain, changed. Edna Kiplagat and Mary Keitany pressed, and Shalane had a bad patch, and lost thirteen seconds. This was just after 24 miles.
Edna Kiplagat started to press, her long, furious stride giving her a bit more real estate between herself the the road goddess Mary Keitany. Kiplagat had the presence of mind to realize that she was not letting either Mary or Shalane be within kicking distance with 400 meters to . Kiplagat succeeded in building a twenty second lead by the finish!
But who, dear reader, would be second! Ahhhh, that is another story. So, as Shalane fought back, at 40k, we had Edna Kiplagat at 2:21:03, Mary Keitany at 2:21:06 and Shalane Flanagan was one second back.
" I am always a fighter, " noted Flanagan later, " and I will fight to the end, yeah, there was a moment there (when I thought I was third). I just thought if I could really compose myself...I just knew I had to keep close to her.."
Just before 25 miles, Shalane Flanagan moved into second and put twenty-one seconds on Mary Keitany.
Today was Edna Kiplagat's day! Running a fine 2:28:20, Edna become the 2010 ING NYCM marathon champion. In finishing second in 2:28:40, Shalane Flanagan matched the best performance by a U.S. women since Kim Jones in 1990! Mary Keitany put a second marathon deb in the first three, running 2:29:01. In fourth place, Inga Abitova of Russia, a fierce competitor, ran 2:29:17. Kiwi Kim Smith finished in fifth in 2:29:28, holding off Christelle Daunay of France by one second, in 2:29:29.
In seventh, Russia's Ludmila Petrova ran 2:29:41, with Caroline Rotich of Kenya five seconds back, in 2:29: 46. Mexico's Madai Perez, running hard til the very end, finished ninth in 2:29:53 and Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia was tenth in 2:29:55.
Edna Kiplagat had this observation after the race, " This year has gone very well with me, starting in Los Angeles. I am happy that I have closed the year with New York success. " (This was Edna's fourth road victory for 2010.)
We will finish with some comments from the very happy second placer, Shalane Flanagan:
" I just felt so prepared to seize the opportunity. I just stayed calm and collected. I tried to stay with the women as long as I could. It came down who had heart and legs at end. My heart was there, my legs were a bit behind, but as soon as I finished second, I started figuring out what I needed to do to finish first...to be able to call myself a marathoner, it is a little too much for me.
I am going to Hawaii, and then a burger and a beer. "
While 45,660 runners started the race today, one the women's side, it came down to three women running furiously over the last thirteen minutes, to determine the winner. For 2010, Edna Kiplagat will have her name on the all the official results as the winner of the ING NYCM marathon. For Shalane Flanagan, she has, in her first marathon, shown that she will be a contender for London 2012. And for Mary Keitany, know that Mary will be racing against the two in front of her over the next few years with a score to settle. " I will go home and train a bit, with more effort." That should translate to some scintillating marathon finishes in the future...