The ING New York City marathon for 2008 was blessed with nearly perfect weather and superb performances. Each race was not only different, but also highlighted the differences between men and women’s elite racing at this time in our sport. Allow me, dear readers, to explain.
Paula Radcliffe lead from the start, and did not look back. The current world record holder, Radcliffe, who ran a 2;15:35 five years ago, is clearly, the best women marathoner of her era. She listens to a different drummer, one who spells success much different than most. Her Olympic disaster in Athens, followed by her injuries pre Beijing, in my mind, humanized her. But for Radcliffe, according to her confidantes, ING New York, in 2008 was the race where she won, or reconsidered her marathoning future.
Her win was brilliant, courageous and astounding television. For two plus hours, Radcliffe was on the center stage, taking challenges from Ivanova and Goucher, then, after a series of four gut wrenching miles, dropping Ivanova and running to her third victory in New York. Television announcer Tim Hutchings said it best. He noted that New York City had become a city of redemption for Paula Radcliffe and the ING New York City marathon was her race of redemption. So true, so true.
On the American side, Kara Goucher is as American as they come. In her debut, Kara followed Paula closely through seventeen miles, had a bad patch and gutted her way back from sixth to third, and came close to catching second, but her third place finish gave her an American marathon debut record, fastest ever American women’s performance, and best placing for an American women since 1994.
On the men’s side, Marilson Gomes Dos Santos and Abderhaman Goumri fought for several miles before Goumri pulled ahead. But the race is 26.2 miles for a reason and when the Brazilian took the lead at 25.4 miles, he charged up the incline and broke the race open by 24 seconds. Dos Santos took his second victory from an exhausted Goumri.
ASICS, the footwear sponsor in ING New York, upped the ante on its advertising in both print and TV in New York. If you look at the New York Runner and Runners World, you will note a special ad called Run New York featuring Ryan Hall, and in some cases, Dena Kastor, two of ASICS top athletes. The TV ads from ASICS were memorable in that they tied into the print ad campaign ASICS is using across the country.
Congratulations are in order to the ING New York City marathon team, lead by Mary Wittenberg. The race had sat on its laurels for some years and it has been revitalized over the past half decade. New York, Chicago and Boston, in the US, are the meeting places of the industry during the week prior to their events-you have to be there if you are in the industry for at least a few days. New York has now strung that few days out to a week of meetings, press conferences, luncheons on the various aspects of the sport. And that, to steal a line from Martha Stewart, is a good thing.
One more note. Two runners died this year, for the first time in New York in more than a decade. In truth, if one took the top ten marathons around the world, average size of 20,000 or so, and compared them to ten towns and villages of the same size, during the same Sunday mornings, my belief is that more people would have died sitting in front of the television, munching on ding dongs, as opposed to the healthy bunch running a marathon at the same time.
Consider this, if a fisherman dies while trout fishing, as many of the 30 million fishing geeks would dream of going, no one ever writes about them in the paper-that would be just a cool story to tell over cocktails. A runner dies in a major race, it is
likely to be on the front page of the paper.
When the late Jim Fixx died in 1985, he had lived more than a decade longer than his father, who had died in his early forties from a massive heart attack. Fixx was haunted by his father’s death, and the younger Fixx’s running kept his alive that much longer. It was with Fixx that we found runners were mortal beings.
The big city marathon is a celebration of its host city, a celebration for the runners who have taken the time to train in harsh weather for, too hot or too cold, and a celebration of our sport in general.
Again, congrats to the ING New York City marathon for such a compelling race. And congrats to the World Marathon Majors for the speed and class they used in dealing with the tie on the women’s side.
Runblogrun.com encourages you to check out the sites of Shooting Star Media, Inc.: American Track & Field (www.american-trackandfield.com), Athletes Only (www.atf-athlete.com), California Track & Running News (www.caltrack.com), MIssouri Runner & Triathlete (www.morunandtri.com), Latinos Corriendo(www.latinoscorriendo.com), Coaching
Athletics Quarterly (www.coachingathleticsq.com), and USATF Fast Forward (www.usatf.org). All of the above magazine websites can be found at RunningNetwork.com (www.runningnetwork.com).