Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Talk About Tough

Okay, so one of you runs the fastest ever American time at the Boston Marathon (2:08:41).  Another runs within 15 seconds of his PR (2:09:26).  And what did those efforts get Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezghi??????
How about no better than 4th and 5th place. 

That's what happens when the winner runs a course record 2:05:52 (Robert Cheruyiot of Kenya) and second place runs 2:07:23 (Tekeste Kebede of Ethiopia).  Then, the third place guy (who ran in the lead until the last 4 kilometers) "blows up" and still holds on for third in 2:08:39.

But, that's what happens when the world of elite marathoning has reached a new benchmark for excellence.  2:07 is basically the new lower threshold for elite performance.  And, you pretty much have to be ready to run 2:05 or 2:06 to be even think about winning a major marathon. 

It's a far different world than it even was just 5 years ago.

On the upside, the American men seem to be getting closer.  We now have guys "in the mix" at some of the big marathons.  We have Hall and Meb in the top 5 at Boston, and Jason Lemkuhle pulled off a 9th to give us 3 in the top 10. 

But, they're going to have to get in a whole different mid-set to be ready to take it to the next level and be prepared to hit 2:06 or 2:076 everytime that they toe the line.  5:00 pace (2:10 effort) isn't going to cut it any longer.  They're going to have to adopt a bit of the Kenyan philosophy where you go for broke.  You very well may crash and burn; but, you may also flame brilliantly, hit a flyer and have a performance for the ages.

I remain hopeful that we're making the progress we need to and that the young guns like Hall, Ritzheneheim, Rupp, Tegenkamp, Fernandez and others are going to be solid competitors on the world stage and set the tone for the up and coming generation of American distance runners.

The Muddy Buzzard

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