Elite Athlete Interviews
2005 ING New York City Marathon
The 2005 ING New York City Marathon features an exceptionally strong field of runners - many of whom could win this prestigious event. MarathonGuide.com caught up with a few of these athletes at the press conferences and in one-on-one sessions. Here is some of what we learned about their thoughts on this weekend's marathon and on running and life in general:
Note: We will be adding interviews through Saturday, so return to this page daily...
Paul Tergat | Lornah Kiplagat | Meb Keflezighi
Coming soon: interviews w/ Susan Chepkemei, Jen Rhines, Meb Keflezighi, Grete Waitz, more...
Paul Tergat is the world record holder in the marathon with his 2:04:55 performance at the 2003 Berlin Marathon. Tergat's history is fantastic - born to a family of 17 children, he knows what it is like to go hungry and that experience has shaped his attitude and his drive.
What do you think about the field for this weekend and do you have any goals for the race?
I can compare this field to the Olympics, it is that strong and has runners from around the world. I don't want to say anything about my goal, it will depend on the weather, but probably in the 2:08 range. I will make my decision on how to run as I run the course.
This is your first New York City Marathon - will you survey the course before your run?
I know that New York is a very challenging course and this will be a very classic competition. In 2003 I rode in the lead car, so I have seen the course and know it.
What sort of training have you been doing in preparation for the marathon?
I have been running about 270 kilometers per week [about 170 miles per week], with multiple sessions during the day and focusing more on distance. I am very happy with my preparation for this race.
What has been your inspiration to run? How did you come to the marathon?
Growing up, Kip Keino was a hero - he was the father of running in Kenya. I didn't start competitive running until I was 20 and had a lot of success on the track. My first marathon was in 2001 when I was 31 and after my first three marathons I knew that I had potential at that distance. At 6'1", people told me that I was too tall to be a marathoner, but I believe that anything is possible. I came to the marathon late, but think that many of the runners who come to the marathon earlier do it because they have not had as much success on the track.
Any other inspirations or help along the way?
I know what it is like to be poor and I don't take anything for granted. When I was young there was no food, but the UN World Food Programme came to my village with its school food progam and helped provide an education and make sure that we were well fed. That changed my life.
[ed. note: the UN World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian organization and feeds more than 110 million in 80 countries. The cost to feed a child comes to $0.19/day - there are an estimated 300 million hungry children in the world. More information about the World Food Programme can be found at www.wfp.org]
Top Women (l to r): Jelena Prokopcuka, Susan Chepkemei, Lornah Kiplagat, Jen Rhines
Why did you choose to run the New York City Marathon?
I've thought about the New York Marathon since I was young. I remember when I was young I saw a newspaper headline: "Runner goes for Sunday stroll in Central Park" - describing the winner of a race in New York. The idea of a race being considered a stroll and doing that in Central Park has always been in my mind. This will be my fourth time in the New York City Marathon and I feel comfortable with this race.
What has been different about your training regimen for this 2005 NYC Marathon?
In past years I would train 140-150 miles per week with more long runs. But I suffered from injuries and felt tired as I came into a race. This year I've changed my training to include a better mix of distance, speed work and interval work and less weekly mileage, perhaps 100-110 miles per week. Since the change I've not had any injuries and feel more ready for Sunday's marathon.
How might a warm Sunday affect your race?
I won't complain if the day is warm. In 2003, we ran on a warm day and three runners finished more quickly than the previous course record [ed. note, Kiplagat was third that year]. I prefer a warm day - if it's not too warm - to a cold and rainy day.
What is your inspiration for running?
Last year I spent time with New York City school children from P.S. 69 and it was such a wonderful time. This marathon isn't about the prize money or the advertisements. It is about who you inspire in future generations. I feel that it is really important to give encouragement to children.
Meb Keflezighi is America's reigning marathon superstar. Born in worn-torn Eritrea, Keflizighi immigrated to the USA at age 12 in 1987. Critics claim that Keflizighi should not be considered American, but Meb is a true-American - this is the one home he has truly known and he has done all of his running and training in this country. The Silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics and runner-up at the 2004 ING New York City Marathon, Keflizighi is one to push his limits and push his competitors.
We understand that you had injuries over the summer, can you tell us about those?
It has been a tough year, but I am not 100% healthy, and I have prepared for the NYC Marathon as well as I could. I had plans for the summer with a number of races lined up. But in training I felt tightness in my quad and then it felt like a cramp. When I was at the world championships - August 8 - I had a full MRI and they discovered a severe injury to my right quad 11cm long and 2 cm wide. I took time off and did nothing for 3-1/2 weeks and on the fifth week started training.
[Meb's Coach added, at this point]: Meb has been Fully healthy only for the last 7 weeks. The doctors warned to be careful in Brussels and in Helsinki and not to push too hard. He has not been doing the weekly mileage - 100 plus miles - as much as we would have liked, but Meb had a strong October.
Cross-training has been great. At the facility in Mammoth where Meb trains, they have great water treadmills, but we predominantly focused on stationary bike at 90% to maintain high intensity cardio levels. Most runners don't like to cross-train in this fashion when injured, but Meb is very fresh right now.
Were you feeling discouraged when you were sidelined by the injury?
I had faith that I would bounce back and that it was part of God's plan. I've done the work, everything else is up to god.
What did you learn from last year's 2nd place finish - and mistakes?
Last year I suffered from a side ache on 1st Avenue - it was the hardest thing to catch back up to the leaders, but I did. I learned not to go fro the water in the last two miles. Ramaala made his decisive move whlie Cherigat and I were getting water and Ramaala did not.
Sunday may be hot - are you ready for the weather?
Look at me now, I'm wearing three extra layers to simulate the heat. In Mammoth when I train, I wear extra layers as well.
Besides yourself, who do you see as the top contenders?
Off the bat - Abdi and Ramalaa, of course. Paul Tergat, but he's 36 and it must take him longer to recover at that age. Abdi has a better kick than Ramalaa and it will be interesting if they are together at the end.
When did you start running?
I never ran for the publicity of it. It started in PE class in he 6th grade. I recently found out that Karen Luntz, my 9th grade teacher, is running the marathon this year. She contacted me to tell me that and to wish me luck.
Will it change the sport of marathoning if an American won our major marathons?
Of course it will and it will happen eventually. Everyone is waiting for the next Salazar or bill Rodgers.
You're getting married in 2 weeks - are you thinking about the wedding?
My fiancé is in Tampa planning everything, and I do talk to her two or three hours to her 2-3 hours each day. But I am focused on this race this weekend.
Any advice for a beginning marathoner?
Have patience. You can always pick it up at the end of a race. Make sure to finish strong.
Blow by blow coverage of the ING NYC Marathon 2005 races:
NYC Marathon 2005: The Men's Race
NYC Marathon 2005: The Women's Race
As It Happened:
2005 ING NYC Marathon Live Race Coverage
Marathon Elite Lists and Overview
Pre-Race Interviews with top competitors
A special interview with Grete Waitz
Also, Complete Results of the 2005 ING NYC Marathon