ING New York City Marathon 2006 - Men's Race
As always, the ING New York City Marathon attracted a world-class field. Sixteen men in the field had run sub 2:10 marathons. The world-record holder and Olympic Gold and Silver Medalists were in attendance, and that was just the beginning. Kenyans, as is so often the case, were well represented among the elites with Paul Tergat, Rodgers Rop (2002 champion) and Stephen Kiogora leading that contingent. Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, the 2004 winner and 2005 runner-up by just 0.3 seconds, was considered a favorite. Americans, still a longshot for a win, had a shot and were expected to be well represented in the top ten. Meb Keflezighi, the Olympic silver-medalist, 2004 runner-up and 2005 third place finisher was ready to make a run for it, with backup by Alan Culpepper, Peter Gilmore and Dathan Ritzenhein creating one of the strongest American contingents in years.
From the beginning of the race, it was clear that the goal was a win and not necessarily a fast time - the field stayed large and intact following a slow pace. The main pack reached the halfway point in 1:05:35 and twenty-eight men were still in the group. On a perfect day for a record, the pack was nearly two minutes behind the course record pace and on track for a 2:11:10 finish, which would be the slowest finish in more than a decade. In the previous year, the pack was seventeen runners, that would seem more reasonable at this point. Later, Peter Gilmore would report that he had planned to run his own race, with a 65:30 first half which he thought would put him 1:30 behind the leaders at that point, that he was still in the lead pack was a major surprise to him. Meb Keflezighi would call the pace crazy slow. With such a deep field, no one was making a move early - this was about a win and nothing else - very conservative.
A couple of runners started tentative breaks: Youssef Galmin, Rodgers Rop and Hendrick Ramaala all moved away from the pack, but each was quickly absorbed back in. The runners knew these men and would not let them get away. By sixteen/seventeen miles - up and over the Queensborough Bridge, the pack declined to nine runners, with all of the Americans shed from the lead. These nine were running alone up First Avenue: Rodgers Rop of Kenya, William Kipsang of Kenya, Daniel Yego of Kenya, Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, Stephen Kiogora of Kenya, Paul Tergat of Kenya, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, Hailu Negussie of Ethiopia, Nephat Kinyanjui of Kenya - and one of them would become the winner. Most of the favorites were here - and in the end this group would hold on to fill eight of the nine top spots.
The first runner to make a decisive move was Marilson Gomes dos Santos, who at mile 18 pulled away from the pack. Perhaps because this Brazilian was less well known to the others - all Africans - and/or because they measured the number 15 on his bib and decided that he was not a major threat, the pack let Gomes dos Santos run alone to the front as they focused on each other. Four miles later - by mile 22, Gomez dos Santos had built his lead to nearly forty seconds and the Africans, Tergat in particular, realized that the attack might have been for real. Tergat began a chase and if the course had been two miles longer, he and Kiogora might have caught the Brazilian, but it was not to be.
Marilson Gomes dos Santos
Tergat and Kiogora at Mile 25.5
What the rest of the field did not know was that Gomes dos Santos was a real threat. Gomes dos Santos holds the Brazilian records at the 5000m and 10000m, a marathon best of 2:08:48 achieved at Chicago in 2004 and had beaten Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot by nearly one minute at the annual Sao Silvestre 15K road race in Brazil on New Year's Eve 2006. And although their chase yielded some result, Gomes dos Santos held on to win the 2006 New York City Marathon with eight seconds to spare in 2:09:58.
Stephen Kiogora was the only runner who could hang with Paul Tergat in the final miles and in the final 200 yards of the race was able to move ahead to finish in second place in 2:10:06. Paul Tergat took third place in 2:10:10.
The Americans did not fare as well as they might have. Up and coming American Peter Gilmore improved on his fourth-American status at the 2006 Boston Marathon to arrive as the first American in New York and tenth overall in 2:13:13. Dathan Ritzenhein in his debut marathon finished eleventh after hitting the wall hard, arriving across the finish line in 2:14:01. Joe Driscoll was third American in 2:18:40, Meb Keflezighi was fourth in 2:22:02 and Alan Culpepper was DNF. Both Keflezighi and Culpepper were reported to have suffered from stomach problems and food poisoning which slowed them down in the second half of the marathon.
Peter Gilmore - 1st American
1. Marilson Gomes dos Santos 2:09:58 $155,000 + Smart Car
2. Stephen Kiogora 2:10:06 $80,000
3. Paul Tergat 2:10:10 $55,000
4. Daniel Yego 2:10:34 $35,000
5. Rodgers Rop 2:11:24 $20,000
6. Stefano Baldini 2:11:33 $10,000
7. William Kipsang 2:11:54 $7,500
8. Hailu Negussie 2:12:12 $5,000
9. Hendrick Ramaala 2:13:04 $2,500
10. Peter Gilmore 2:13:13 $21,000
Continuing coverage of the ING NYC Marathon 2006 races:
The Overview - What Happened?
NYC Marathon 2006: The Men's Race
NYC Marathon 2006: The Women's Race
As It Happens:
2006 ING NYC Marathon Live Race Coverage/ Mile-By-Mile
Marathon Elite Lists and Overview
Pre-Race Interviews with top competitors (additional writeups still in progress)
Also, Complete Results of the 2006 ING NYC Marathon