Derartu Tulu, RAK Half marathon, photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net.
If there is an equivalent to Paula Radcliffe in modern women’s distance running, it is Derartu Tulu. 1992 Olympic gold at 10,000 meters, 2000 Olympic gold at 10,000 meters, bronze in 2004 at 10,000 meters. On the World champs side, Derartu took the silver in Goteborg at 10,000 meters, and five years later, is victorious in Edmonton at 10,000 meters.
Here marathon career dates back to 1997, with a fifth in Boston in 2:30.28. On the World Champs scene, Derartu had a tough fourth in Helsinki in 2005, with her personal best of 2:23:30. Then, Derartu started her family..
Getting back into shape was quite hard. ” I gained over twenty five pounds and it was discouraging as I began to train,” noted Derartu in the post race conference. On September 20, Derartu showed her fitness with a fabulous 1:10:33 at the ING Philly Half marathon, a very swift course.
This is the story of her victory at the ING New York City marathon, not only one of the greatest upsets in marathon history, but also, finally, a clear reasoning noting that this women should be considered the Paavo Nurmi of female distance running: her breadth of racing, from road racing to track & field to cross country are inspiring….
Perfect weather for a marathon day..except for the wind. While most eyes were on Paula Radcliffe, a few in the media knew that Paula had dealt with some “twinges”. For a women who has taken the marathon to the storied heights of a 2:15:25 marathon, it is distressing, that like most of us, Paula has human frailties. In a teary eyed, and very honest conversation with print media after the race, Paula noted that she had rested the past couple weeks and discounted the fact that she had run here not 100 percent. That fact is, Paula Radcliffe is human-she has good days, and bad days. Today would prove to be problematic.
Paula took the lead early, hell, from the first steps. Head bobbing, but it is all, dear readers about, the foot placement, and economy of running style. Radcliffe is a running machine. Radcliffe kept the tactics simple, she hit the 5k in 17:55, the 10k in 35:16 and 15k in 52:39.
The elite women’s field numbered 29, but it was down to six by five kilometers. The pack included Ludmile Petrova, 2008 ING silver medalist, Derartu Tulu, Christelle Daunay of France, the French record holder, Salina Kosgei, the Boston champion, Yuri Kano of Japan, and Magdelana Lewy Boulet of the U.S., the 2008 Trials silver medalist.
Radcliffe’s pace is relentless, but today, in the face of 14 mph winds in the face, it was human, but still the attrition began. Just before the six kilometer mark (four miles), Kosgei and Kano went down for the count, HARD, and Lewy Boulet stayed up, using all that core training she does to good effect.
Hitting 10k in 35:16, it was Lewy Boulet, Kosgei, Daunay and Radcliffe in the lead, with Tulu and Petrova tucked in behind Radcliffe. Kano dropped off after the fall, never to reappear in the lead pack.
Christelle Daunay had run a three minute personal best at Paris in April, running 2:25:43. Her cross country racing plus a 31:47.49 and a fifth in the roller derby Euro Cup 10k (32:02;03) showed her talent. This women could handle the pace, in fact, this race was built for her.
Radcliffe lead the gang of six, Lewy Boulet, Daunay, Kosgei, Tulu and Petrova, through ten miles in 56:27.
The pack hit the half marathon in 1:14:05, and Tony Reavis, one of most well educated road commentators, quickly asked when the race was going to start. Julie Henner, on the motorcycle watching the women’s race for TV, noted that Daunay looked good, but also made reference to Tulu, who looked like she was out for a jog. Magdelana Lewy Boulet fell off the back right about eleven miles, and ended up finishing sixth in 2:32:17, as first American.
Radcliffe lead through 25k in 1:28:16, 30k in 1:45:34. At this time, Daunay, Tulu, Petrova were there and Salina Kosgei could not stay with the pace, her fall had caused her some discomfort. Kosgei ended up fifth in 2:31:53.
It was down to four….Paula Radcliffe looked fine, but it was about this time, between 35 and 40k that Paula could no longer hide her physical issues–she started to fall back as Ludmila Petrova made a slight move, with Tulu and Daunay covering.
Paula was having cramping issues and she would not be back, finishing fourth in 2:29:27. She did not give up, as she was down as much as twenty seconds and cut her difference between fourth and third to eleven seconds. Radcliffe is tough anytime she races….
It was not down to three, with Christelle Daunay under some distress. As the trio reached 40k, Tulu and Petrova, who was pushing the pace, hit the mark in 2:21:22. Daunay was five seconds back.
All this time, Derartu Tulu was bidding her time. Having raced at this level since 1992, when she won her first gold medal at the ripe old age of 18, Tulu was and is, a master of strategy. Today was a lesson in simplicity: attrition, then take the lead and run boldly for home.
Derartu Tulu took the lead just after 41 kilometers and built up 7.7 seconds in the last mile, winning in 2:28:52. In second for the second year, Ludmila Petrova of Russia ran 2:29:00. Christelle Daunay of France was third in 2:29:16, with Paula Radcliffe in fourth in 2:29:27. Fifth was Salina Kosgei in 2:31:52. Sixth placer Magdelena Lewy Boulet was first American in 2:32:17. In seventh, Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia ran 2:35:54. In eighth, Serkalem Biset Abrha of Ethiopia ran 2:37:20. In ninth, Yuri Kamo of Japan held on in 2:39:05, with Desiree Ficker of the US in tenth in 2:39:30.
Truly inspiring, in seventeenth position was one Joan Benoit Samuelson, all of 52, in the twenty-fifth year anniversary of her win in Los Angeles. Joan hit the halfway in 1:22:13 (she ran in the 9:40 start, not the elite women’s start), and held on for a fine 2:49:09, breaking the 50 and over record. Joan made a fascinating comment: ” Twenty-five years ago, I did an ad for Nike, stating that there was no finish line, I never knew what that meant until today. I have finished every race that I have started and never run over three hours…at the Nike womens race, I ran the half marathon with a women trying to run her best, it was truly inspiring…I am not sure if I will run the 50th anniversary race, but we shall see!”
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