From Lane One, #5: On his birthday, CJ Albertson gave himself a chance to win the Boston Marathon, by Matt Wisner


CJ Albertson had an amazing day in Boston on October 11, 2021. His leading the Boston marathon for 1:40 gave the athlete and his sponsor Brooks almost two hours on the well watched global feed and the US Boston broadcast.

Matt Wisner wrote this column, on CJ Albertson and how he almost won Boston. It was great to see the Clovis community college coach, CJ Albertson, take the lead, and lead for 20 plus miles!

Doesn't everyone want to lead the Boston marathon?

Albertson_CJ-3-Boston21.jpgCJ Albertson takes the lead, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto

Matt Wisner

From Lane One #5

On his birthday, CJ Albertson gave himself a chance to win the Boston Marathon

October 11, 2021

It's Marathon Monday. The 125th Boston Marathon. It's also CJ Albertson's birthday. And he was determined to make it memorable. The gun fired, and Albertson went straight to the front. Correction: Straight past the front. He gapped the field right from the start.

Just 800 meters into the race, Albertson had established a ten second lead. He came through the mile in 4:32, 15 seconds ahead of the pack. He sped up even more and came through 5k in 14:29, now 59 seconds ahead of second place.

Boston has a downhill start, and maybe that's part of the reason for Albertson's huge lead. He wasn't afraid to push the downhill, while other runners were more careful about maintaining their composure in the early parts of the race.

"I couldn't hang back in the pack and then run slow and then sprint up the hills. You have to know the runner that you are," Albertson said to in an interview.

Albertson ran the first half in 64:08, which is nine seconds faster than his official half marathon PR of 64:17. By that point in the race, he had a 2:13 lead on the field.

That was the point in the race when he sincerely considered the possibility of winning. Coming into Boston, Albertson's marathon PR was 2:11:18, which he ran in December of 2020 at the Marathon Project in Arizona. There were a handful of men in the race with a faster PR than him, and he assumed he'd have more company through the race.

Albertson pushed forward, but his lead continued to shrink. He ran his 15th mile in 5:20 after running consistently in the 4:50s for the first part of the race.

The chase pack caught Albertson in the 20th mile. It was a pack of 12. Instead of letting them roll through him, Albertson latched on, and for the first time in the race, ran alongside his competitors. He ultimately finished 10th overall in 2:11:44. He was the second American behind Colin Bennie.

"I never in a million years thought I'd have a two minute lead. I just ran what I ran and didn't know what other people were doing," Albertson said to "Obviously it got hard running alone."

This wasn't Albertson's first risky race approach.

In 2011, Albertson performed a similar stunt at Footlocker, the most prestigious American high school cross country race. He tried to run away from Edward Cheserek and Futsum Zienasellassie in the early stages of the race and eventually faded to 36th place, only beating four people.

Albertson is clearly a tough runner, maybe even a masochistic one. He's not afraid to take a serious risk and set a pace that he might not be able to sustain. He's the former 50k world record holder (2:42:30), which he ran completely on the track, and he also has run the fastest ever indoor marathon (2:17:59), which he ran at the Armory in New York City in April 2019.

This was Albertson's first major marathon but not his first serious marathon; he finished seventh at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta in February 2020.

Today, Albertson celebrates his 28th birthday, but it's certainly not his only reason to celebrate.

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