Monday, September 26, 1500gmt
further proof were needed of the ascendancy of Kenyan distance running over
their perennial rivals, the Ethiopians, notwithstanding the substantial
inconvenience offered by the likes of Mo Farah, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp on
the track, and Ryan Hall on the road, then it came with this weekend’s results
from the BMW Berlin Marathon.
A world record by Patrick Makau, who won
(from two colleagues) by over four minutes, while prompting the abandonment of
world record holder Haile Gebrselassie; and a first-time marathon finish and
victory for his compatriot Florence Kiplagat, who won by two and a half minutes
from, admittedly ageing luminaries as Marathon Majors’ winner Irina Mikitenko,
and world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
have been fast Kenyans in the past, notably Duncan Kibet, who ran 2.04.27 in
Rotterdam 2009, then lined up alongside Gebrselassie here in Berlin five months
later, only to be blown away. Makau is made of sterner stuff, as anyone who saw
his Berlin victory last year, in a downpour, would testify. Yesterday’s
demolition job, first of Geb, then of his world record, merely underlined
Makau’s strength. But he has a racing brain to go with it.
many Kenyans brought up in country communities, Makau is not the most
demonstrative of characters; but as well as having the build to withstand long
fast training, he thinks tactically. His manager Zane Branson reports that,
after his first two marathons, Makau told him that his opponents could now
recognise that he tended to follow, then finish strong, telling Branson, “I’m
going to have to change that”.
way he dispensed of Geb at 27 kilometres, by first spurting ahead, then weaving
back and forth across the road, prompting the Emperor’s demise, was proof of his
tactical acuity as well.
there was any sense at Athletics Kenya HQ, Makau would be inked onto a squad
sheet for London 2012 right now. But, given that ascendancy referred to earlier,
at least among the men, perhaps the Kenyan ‘suits’ are waiting for better. And
Makau himself did tell us post-race that he wasn’t the only man capable of going
got the impression he wasn’t talking about anyone other than his colleagues
though. And, albeit one has to be wary of statistics, you can’t argue with eight
of the world’s current top ten men’s marathoners (and 18 in 25!); and five of
the top eight women. That includes the first seven men and first two women (the
only sub-2.20s this year), and the two world title winners
Makau nor Kiplagat intends to add to that embarrassment of riches for a while.
At today’s press conference Kiplagat said, “I don’t have any plans for another
marathon at present. I have just completed a marathon for the first time so I
want to think about that”.
gave scant solace to potential rivals, albeit he did concede that even he
suffered on Sunday. “If Haile had been able to stay in the race longer, say to
35km, I think I could have run even faster.
have no plans at present for other races. I shall first spend two weeks
recovering. Today I got up, had a shower and my muscles felt stiff so I shall
not run today.
for the Olympic marathon would be different to the big city races such as
Berlin. Firstly, there are no pacemakers so, if I am selected, I think I would
train a little differently to how I prepared for Berlin. Here I knew I was
preparing to run against the world record holder. In the Olympics it would be
so, but you get the impression that, whatever happens, Makau is going to be
ready for it.