2011 ING NYCM Marathon: Firehiwot Dado wins womens in 2:23:15, by Larry Eder

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The 2011 ING New York City Marathon had 47, 438 starters on a cool and blustery Sunday morning. The day would show the strength of Ethiopian women as the absolutely frightening depth of the Kenyan men.

Dado_FirehiwotFL-Rome11.jpgFirehwot Dado, 2011 Roma Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

And as we all know, a marathon is not over until one crosses the finish line!

Here is how we saw it: (For the complete live coverage, click on Live in the navigation bar).


Virtually, from the start, Mary Keitany, who was third in 2010 ING New York City marathon ran like someone possessed. And she was. Mary Keitany was possessed with the supreme confidence that comes from running 2:19:19 and defeating the Russian phenom Liliya Shobukhova.

Thumbnail image for Keitany_MaryH-RAK11.JPG Mary Keitany, 2011 RAK Half Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

Hitting the 5k in 16:04, then the 10k in 31:54, then, the 15k in 47:59. Keitany had a 33 second lead on a pack that consisted of Buzunesh Deba, Firehiwot Dado, Ana Dulce Felix, Caroline Cheptonui Kilel and Caroline Rotich. The race was so fast that Kim Smith, the Boston leader in the 2011 race for 20 miles, let the pack go!

Mary Keitany had been told by her coach that if she was beat today, both he and Mary would congratulate the new victor. That level of confidence means many things: someone was out to rewrite the record books, or someone was going to crash and burn like no one had ever seen.

Buzunesh Deba, an Ethiopian living in Bronx, has not seen a marathon course that she did not like. In 2010, Buzunesh won 8 of nine marathons. In 2011, she started two and won two. This is not a women to trifle with.

Mary Keitany was making believers out of many as she blasted the course. 20 kilometers was passed in 1:04:21, two minutes and seven seconds on Buzunesh Deba, who, along with Firehwot Dado, kept the chasing pack focused.

Mary Keitany hit the halfway point in 1:07:56, two minutes, sixteen seconds ahead of second placer Deba. Toni Reavis and Juli Benson, TV commentators and long time students of the sport, wondered is Keitany could hold a 2:17 pace on this course. Benson said it best, " I do not know, Toni, can someone run 2:17 on this course?"

Apparently, Keitany thought so. Hitting 25k in 1:21:38, Caroline Kilel was in second, two minutes 18 seconds back.

There is a point, even in a well run marathon, where the runner starts to feel fatigue, perhaps pain, but an ominous feeling that the ease with which one ran the early miles is about to change. Such was the case for our heroine, Mary Keitany.

Even a world record holder (half marathon) and sub 2:20 marathoner has to pay homage to the marathon gods. At 30k, Mary was leading in 1:38:57, with Buzenesh Deba in second, one minute and 47 seconds down. Over the 25-30k point, Deba and Dado had begun to pull Keitany back. Not lots, but enough to give them some level of confidence.

Deba_Bizunesh-PhillyHalf11.JPG Buzunesh Deba, 2011 RNR Philly Half marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

Over the 30-35k distance, Mary Keitany still lead, but her lead was cut by 45 seconds. Keitany lead in 1:57.02, with Deba and Dado cutting the lead to one minute, two seconds. Keitany might be able to hold on, but, Deba and Dado smelt blood and were in hot pursuit.

Mary Keitany had fought bravely for just about 38 kilometers, in mile 19, she lost 32 seconds of her lead. At 40k, Mary Keitany had two seconds on Buzunesh Deba and Firehwot Dado. Keitany hit 40k in 2:15:45. twp seconds ahead!

Buzunesh pushed herself next to Mary and Keitany fought, putting in a surge that left Deba exhausted. Keitany hit 25 miles in 2:16:35, with Deba and Dado one second back!

Could Mary Keitany hold off Buzunesh Deba and a very relaxed Firehwot Dado?

Dado_Firehiwot1-Rome11.jpgFirehewot Dado, 2011 Roma Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

Buzunesh Deba looked great, but Firehwot Dado first went by Keitany, then Deba, as Keitany started to dissolve. Firehwot Dado, who had run 2:24:13, charged by, and as they went up the final hill, outside Central Park, Dado moved away from Deba, building a four second lead by the finish, which Dado hit in 2:23:15. Deba was second in 2:23:19 and Mary Keitany, who tried to become a marathon immortal through the five boroughs of New York City, learnt that, for today, she was still mortal, as she finished in third in 2:23:38.

(Firehwot Dada won the Roma Marathons in 2009, 2010 and 2011, improving each year).

1. Firehwot Dado, Ethiopia, 2:23.15, $130k Prize and $40k Bonus=$170k
2. Buzenesh Deba, Ethiopia, 2:23.19, $65k Prize and $40k Bonus=$105k
3. Mary Keitany, Kenya, 2:23:38, $40k Prize and $35k Bonus=$75k
4. Ana Dulce Felix, Portugal, 2:25:40, $25k Prize and $25k Bonus=$40k
5. Kim Smith, New Zealand, 2:25:46, $15k Prize and $25k Bonus=$35k
6. Caroline Cheptonui Kilel, Kenya, 2:25:57, $10k Prize and $25k Bonus=$35k
7. Caroline Rotich, Kenya, 2:27:06, $7k Prize and $10k Bonus=$17k
8. Isabellah Anderson, Sweden, 2:28:29, $5k Prize and $5k Bonus=$10k
9. Jo Pavey, Great Britain, 2:28:42, $2k Prize and $5k Bonus=$7k
10. Galina Bogomolova, Russia, 2:29.03, $1k Prize and 0 Bonus=$1k

Total for women, Prize purse and Bonuses: $510k

(add $38k for local NYRR members and $12k for Masters)

Jack Waitz, the husband of the late Grete Waitz, finished the marathon today in just around 3:51, a half hour faster than his goal. " I have been hurt off and on since June, and I did not run this week until Friday. I ran five miles, then walked a minute each mile the rest of the race. I should not feel so good. Grete would have told me not to run. At the start, I thought how Fred Lebow and Grete would be so amazed at how the race has grown. Back in 1978 remember, Grete grabbed Fred's sleeve, at the start and said, " Mr. Lebow, where do I go now?". After the race, Fred gave Grete and me $20 for the taxi ride to the airport..." Jack chuckled as he spoke to several reporters.

Grete Waitz and Fred Lebow would have been very happy today. The women's race has exploded and the ING New York City marathon continues to amaze and astound.....

For more on the 2011 ING NYC Marathon, please click on:

ING New York City Marathon

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