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A Race Like No Other
2010 ING New York City Marathon Preview and Starter List
By Sharon Ekstrom
See Also: Starter List (bottom of page)
Photo Credit: Victah Sailer - Haile Gebrselassie at 2010 NYC Half Marathon
The New York City Marathon traditionally pulls together one of the deepest marathon fields in the world, and for the 2010 edition of the race this is undoubtedly so. The headline for 2010 will be shared between two men. The first is defending champion, Meb Keflezighi, whose Silver medal performance at the 2004 Olympics is credited for the resurgence of distance running in America. The second is Haile Gebrselassie who holds the two fastest marathon times ever run as well as a myriad of other achievements. The supporting cast consists of six other men who have run faster than 2:07 for the marathon, including three who have run sub 2:06.
The New York City Marathon is not one of the fastest in the world and speed alone does not guarantee the victory, rather heart and spirit will. In that arena, Meb Keflezighi has proven his worth. Eleven men in the field have run faster than Keflezighi's best, 2:09:15, but none other in the field has earned an Olympic medal in the marathon and only two others have been victorious in New York and none seems as brave as Keflezighi. In a remarkable comeback at the 2009 race, Keflezighi overcame setbacks due to injuries over several seasons to win his first marathon... Proof that good guys do finish first.
On the other end of the spectrum, during a career that began in the early 1990s, Haile Gebrselassie has set world records or bests more than 25 times at every distance from two miles to the marathon and multiple Olympic and World Championship gold medals at the 1,500m, 3,000m and 10,000m distances. "Geb" debuted in the marathon running a 2:06:35 at the 2002 London Marathon (3rd place). In 2007, he broke the world record at the Berlin Marathon in 2:04:26 and returned to Berlin in 2008 to break the record again and become the first and only runner to break the 2:04 barrier by running 2:03:59...making something that many considered impossible, look rather effortless. Even as one of the oldest in the field, Geb has run the fastest half marathon of anyone in the field for 2010, a 59:33 winning finish at the Great North Run. All of Geb's past marathon races have been dubbed world record attempts, so Geb's decision to run New York City for the first time is of special note. New York City will be a different type of race, not the flat, fast course that the world record holder is accustomed to. New York also chooses not to employ official pacesetters at the marathon, preferring to let the athletes determine their own strategy on the day. Following this change for Geb, we'll note that at press time he had just announced that he will run the Tokyo Marathon as his next marathon in early 2011.
Others in the field have stellar past marathon times, including Kenyan Abel Kirui who served as Geb's "rabbit", helping him at his world record attempts and successes in Berlin and Dubai. After helping Geb, Kirui has certainly come into his own, running a 2:05:04 personal best at the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon and following that up by winning the World Marathon Championships in Berlin in 2009. James Kwambai, the second fastest man in the field whose 2:04:27 shares the Kenyan national record, dropped out of the New York City Marathon in 2009 but will look for better in 2010. Abderrahim Goumri, with a personal best of 2:05:30, has been a perennial runner-up, finishing second at the New York City Marathon twice, not to mention second at the London and Chicago Marathon as well. Some thought it a fluke when the pack let the little known Marilson Gomes dos Santos run off the front and continue to victory at the 2006 New York City Marathon in a slow 2:09:58, but he was again victorious in 2008 as he outlasted Goumri to win in 2:08:43. 2007 Amsterdam Marathon champion and silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships Emmanuel Mutai (personal best 2:06:15), 2010 European Champion Viktor Rothlin (personal best 2:07:23), 2009 Frankfurt Marathon Champion Gilbert Kirwa (personal 2:06:14), and 2004 New York City Marathon Champion Hendrick Ramaala (personal best 2:06:55) round out the fastest marathoners in the field.
Also noteworthy are debuts by two men who have performed well in other New York races, 2010 New York City Half Marathon Champion Peter Kamais (KEN), who outlasted Haile Gebrselassie to finish the tough half marathon course in 59:53; and 2010 Healthy Kidney 10K winner Gebre Gebremariam (ETH), who outkicked Kamais at the shorter distance and set a record for the fastest 10K loop ever run in Central Park.
In addition to American Meb Keflezighi, another American, Dathan Ritzenhein will return to New York for the first time since the 2008 USA Olympic Trials Men's Marathon to try to better his 2:10:00 marathon personal best. Jorge Torres will also return for his second shot at New York, his only prior marathon where he ran 2:13:00 for seventh place in 2009.
Originally on the roster, but notably absent at the starting line will be Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN), runner-up from the 2009 New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon champion, and four-time Boston Marathon champion; and Martin Lel (KEN), 2003 and 2007 New York City Marathon Champion and four-time London Marathon champion. These former training partners had withdrawn from the field due to on-going injuries which have forced them to miss another marathon season.
With some incredible runners and a deep field, all will be vying for the win, but the New York City Marathon title will mean much more to many. Marilson Gomes dos Santos' second victory in 2008 at New York proved that he deserved a place among the greats of marathoning. Similarly, Meb Keflezighi's win in 2009 followed a year and a half of injuries and a time when many had written off the Olympic Silver medalist of five years earlier and proved that he was still in the game. Others will have mucth to prove at New York.
Abderrahim Goumri, always the bridesmaid and never the bride, returns to New York with four second place finishes having seen victory elude him for way too long despite being consistently near the front of every race. Similarly, Kwambai has had a number of impressive second place finishes, including runner-up at the Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon and Rotterdam Marathon (in a time that tied the winner and ties him as the second fastest marathoner of all time) - but he has been plagued by inconsistent performances (including a DNF at the 2009 New York City Marathon) and needs a win to prove his place.
2010 European Champion and Swiss marathon record holder Viktor Rothlin made great strides in and since 2008. In that year, he broke the 2:08 mark after racing the distance for the fifteenth time, winning the 2008 Tokyo Marathon in 2:07:23. He went on to finish sixth at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2:10:35; but in 2009 he suffered from a life threatening double pulmonary embolism. Rothlin rebounded and eighteen months later won the European Championships (2:15:31) on a hot and humid day in Barcelona. But the European field is certainly less robust than the New York field is and the question remains whether Rothlin can return to his 2008 levels.
Dathan Ritzenhein, lauded as one of the best three or four American marathoners currently running, has battled multiple setbacks over the years due to a recurring foot injury. After a successful year of track (including an American record at the 5,000m) and half-marathon performances (including a 60:00 Half Marathon performance), a more recent injury to his good foot has flared up. Ritzenhein will have to move past the elephant in the room and focus on a top performance.
The men's field at the 2010 New York City Marathon will certainly provide a great day of racing and a great opportunity for the athletes to prove that they truly deserve to be listed among the greatest.
|Male Elite Athletes|
|Meb Keflezighi (35)||USA||1||2:09:15, New York, 2009|| History |
|Haile Gebrselassie (37)||Ethopia||2||2:03:59, Berlin, 2008 (WR)|| History |
|James Kwambai (27)||Kenya||3||2:04:27, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Abel Kirui (28)||Kenya||4||2:05:04, Rotterdam, 2009|| History |
|Abderrahime Bouramdane (32)||Morocco||5||2:07:33, London|| History |
|Emmanuel Mutai (26)||Kenya||6||2:06:15, London, 2008|| History |
|Jorge Torres (30)||USA||7||2:13:00, New York, 2009|| History |
|Abderrahim Goumri (34)||Morocco||8||2:05:30, London, 2008|| History |
|Gilbert Kirwa (25)||Kenya||9||2:06:14, Frankfurt, 2009|| History |
|Marilson Gomes dos Santos (33)||Brazil||10||2:08:37, London, 2007|| History |
|Arata Fujiwara (29)||Japan||11||2:08:40, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Dathan Ritzenhein (27)||USA||12||2:10:00, London, 2009|| History |
|Gebre Gebremariam (26)||Ethopia||14||Debut|| History |
|Viktor Röthlin (36)||Switzerland||15||2:07:23, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Peter Kamais (34)||Kenya||16||Debut|| History |
|Hendrick Ramaala (38)||South Africa||17||2:06:55, London, 2006|| History |
|Tim Nelson (26)||USA||18||Debut|| History |
|Simon Bairu (27)||Canada||19||Debut|| History |
Martin Lel (32) Kenya | |2:05:15, London, 2008 | History |
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (32) Kenya | |2:07:14, Boston, 2006 | History |
Antonio Vega (26) USA | |2:13:47, Boston, 2010 | History |