Wilson Kipsang wins New York, but is it Kipsang, Kipchoge or Kimetto as Marathoner of the Year? by Alex Mills

Kipsang, Lelisa, photo by PhotoRun.net

Thumbnail image for Kipchoge_EluidFV-Carlsbad10.jpg
Eliud Kipchoge, photo by PhotoRun.net

Dennis Kimetto breaks Emmanuel Mutai, photo by PhotoRun.net

Alex Mills wrote this piece on Wilson Kipsang winning the TCS New York City Marathon, but even with that fantastic win, does that give him the unofficial Marathoner of the Year ! 

It was fitting that the 2014 marathon season should draw to a close in such a dramatic fashion in New York City; the place where theatre is second nature and celebrities are commonplace. 

Not even the adverse weather conditions, doing their best to to act as the pantomime villain this Sunday, could stop the imperious superhuman star that is Wilson Kipsang, from claiming victory on the day and ultimately the 2014 World Marathon Majors title. 

Playing up to his role as the principal in NYC's latest hit show, Kipsang showed why he has come to be one of the greatest runners of the 21st century. Kipsang battled through the wind and past Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, 300 metres before the end, to ensure he took third consecutive title over the distance, and in turn added yet a third marathon title, in a third different marathon,  to his name.

What made Kipsang's victory more special was that he had to work for it. 

Despite the Kenyan running incredibly hard for the times he has won with in the past, he hasn't always necessarily been pushed hard enough by his rivals; with the former world record holder often having to settle for only having the clock for company in the final stages of his races, rather another competitor. 

So how refreshing it was to see Kipsang have to cope with having Desisa on his shoulder, as he headed onto the final stretch in Central Park needing to produce the goods in the final moments of a cold November morning in North America. By doing so, the Kenyan showed just how good a racer he can be without the comfort of pace setters, banishing at least a sliver of the memory of the disappointment of London 2012, the last time her set off without them over 26.2 miles.

After a season of super fast times on almost every possible occasion, it is invigorating to see a real battle not just for Kipsang but in general. Yes Kimetto's run in Berlin was beautiful, awe inspiring and all the rest, but how much greater would it have been had Emmanuel Mutai been that teeny tiny bit closer at the climax?

Ultimately, the aim of competitive running is to race, with times a secondary additive in the mixing bowl; admittedly no one wants to see professional runners run at snails pace, but neither is it much fun to have the outcome decided with 20 minutes still to run and the competition become diluted. Especially when the race organisers have payed so much for the athletes to be there.

Having said that, Kimetto's performance in Berlin could ultimately be revolutionary for the sport and so it deserves to be seen as the achievement of 2014 road racing. However, such is the regularity that we are seeing brilliant times these days, he may not even quite merit the title of marathon runner of the year. A claim that both Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge can feel they are almost equally deserve to have.

With all three Kenyans  plus Mutai, performing so well this year, it could be assumed that the marathon success at the very top of the event is starting to become almost exclusive to the East African nation with even the traditional Ethiopian powerhouse being slightly left behind, yet Desisa's performance today shows just how dangerous they remain especially as underdogs. 

If he and a few others like Kenenisa Bekele and Tsegaye Mekonnen can continue progress then things may however be a little closer by 2015 with at least one of them getting within 20 seconds of Haile Gebreselassie's national record.

Aside from that, huge plaudits both on the day and for the year must go to Meb Keflezighi, who at 39 continues to prove that he poses both the drive and ability to race among the best in the world and in turn, engrave his namer ever deeper into the hearts of the American public.

How much longer he'll be racing at the top remains to be seen, although the fact that it's probably a question that has been asked for at least the last three or four years suggests that 2015 may not even be his last season.

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