A view from the press truck, by Carolyn Mather/Running Journal



   The TCS New York City Marathon was held today with winds blowing a steady 31 mph with 43 degrees officially at 9am. The tent at the start threatened to blow down with the gusts and several events had to be altered but the women's race started at 9:10am in very chilly conditions. A pack of thirteen quickly took control of the race passing the mile in about 6:30 as the marker blew away. The second mile was covered in again about 5:34 as the second marker was gone. You could actually see the women's legs blowing against each other as they battled the strong crosswind. The pack was composed of the favorites including Desi Linden, Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, Edna Kiplagat, Ana Dulce Felix, Buzenesh Deba, Valeria Straneo, Firehiwot Dado, Jelena Prokopcuka, Jemina Sumsong, Mary Keitany and Rkia El Moukim and Sara Moreira making their marathon debuts. Sara immediately took the lead as they passed 5K in 17:32. They reached the 10K mark jockeying for position in 35:01.

   The wind was swirling and the volunteers were struggling to keep the special fluid bottles standing on the tables every 5K. Several missed their bottles at 10K and took water at the next stop. Buzenesh and Firehiwot  were sharing a bottle several times. Deena was the first to fall off the pack shortly before 15K. A couple of the ladies would lose a little ground when they got their bottles then climb back into the pack. Ana fell back next and there were eleven. Kara lost touch before 20K. Those who got off the pack struggled mightily to fight the elements by themselves and get back in the hunt. Edna lost contact on the Queenborough Bridge.

   Nine women were greeted by the screaming crowds on First Avenue. Strangely many sections of the course that usually have cheering crowds, were vacant this raw morning. The race went blocks at a time with no one on the course. It was a very eerie feeling with the unusual quiet.

   The pace picked up after the bridge into Manhattan and the next three miles were faster-5:32, 5:23 and 5:30.  Desi lost contact after mile 19 as Mary threw off her arm warmers. Things were heating up!! At 35K only six remained and Firehiwot was dropped before 22 miles as miles 21 and 22 were 5:35 and 5:22 respectively. 

There remained five: two past champions (Mary and Jelena), a second place Boston finisher (Jemima) and the two debutantes (Sara and Rkia). Mary and Jemima ran the next three miles at 5:115:24 and 5:12 which quickly separated it into a two woman race. They traded leads several times in Central Park and with about a half mile to go it looked like Mary was done. 

Apparently Jemima made her move into the lead too soon as Mary rallied to best her rival by three seconds (2:25:07 to 2:25:10).It was an incredible comeback for Mary who has been out of racing for nearly two years while having a baby. First time marathoner Sara Moreira, 29 of Portugal held off Jelena Prokopcuka to claim a podium finish in 2:26:00. She was ecstatic to do so well in her first attempt.

  Desi passed several ladies in the last 10K to become the first American finisher in 2:28:11. The big surprise was the tenth place finish by Annie Bersagel. Annie is a Stanford educated lawyer who lives in Norway and was never in the lead pack. She ran a 2:33:02.

  Today was certainly a day for the record books with the strong winds and biting cold. I suspect it might have been a different race with better weather but everyone had the same conditions and every finisher deserves congratulations for braving the elements and getting it done.

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