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A Race Like No Other
2011 New York City Marathon - Men's Pre-Race Quotes
On paper, we know who should do what on race day - or so we think. Nonetheless, we like talking with the runners - trying to gauge how they are feeling and what they might do. Sometimes that doesn't tell us much - Moses Mosop continually told us he was injured before smashing the field and breaking the course record at the 2011 Chicago Marathon - it's good we didn't listen to him.
Here is some of the information we learned from the athletes on the days ahead of the New York City Marathon. Sometimes that is about their running, sometimes it's just about who they are.
Q. How is this year's New York City Marathon different for you?
A. Last year, I just came to New York prepared to finish and had no expectations. This year, everyone else has expectations for me to win. At last year's race I ran through 25K, 35K and I felt okay, so I said to myself: "Maybe I'll be top 3.... at 24 miles, I saw that Emmanuel Mutai was very, very tired and I knew it would be good."
Q. How did you feel about the Boston Marathon race?
A. In Boston, my race was so tough - and when I saw my time, I couldn't believe it - 2:04! I'll run my best at New York - but i don't think we'll be able to run 2:04 [said with a smile on his face]. After Boston, I went back to my country to train for the World Championships. But the problem at the time was that it was the rainy season, so we weren't able to prepare as well as we could.
Q. Any concern with the fast Kenyans going out too fast?
A. Whatever they want to do, I mean... you can't stop them. But by the same token, I'm healthy and my training has been going well. If they run 2:05, there's nothing I can do about that - but hopefully they'll drag me to a PR. I think I'll be able to run to be competitive, hopefully the pace is nothing crazy. The beautiful thing about New York is that it forces you to slow down for the first mile. I was looking back at my races: 4:58 or something like that last for the first mile last year. It's nice to be able to have that versus running 4:40 or 4:30 or something like that in the first mile and accumulating lactic acid right away. I'm just hoping to be in the mix and if I can be in the mix and get to Central Park, who knows...
Q. What do you think about the course record? Could it fall?
A. It is a soft record and based on the number, it can be broken, but I don't konw the course. But I'd like for us to go for the record.
I don't think the course will be that hard, given what we train on in Ethiopia with the uphill and downhill.
Q. How did you react to the death of Sammy Wanjiru?
A. I don't know how to express it. It's hard to say how I felt. I remember how sad I felt when I heard it. I think if he had a lot of close advisors and friends, it should not have happened. We ran together many times, in the Olympics and in London twice and in Chicago. I am still very sad about it.
Q. The 2011 London Marathon was difficult for you -
A. At the 2011 London Marathon, I wasn't feeling well and hadn't had sufficient training. I just couldn't manage in that race.
Q. There are many Kenyans in the field - is there a real rivalry between the Kenyans and Ethiopians
A. The rivalry is nothing different than a friendly, brotherly rivalry. It really just shows our mutual love of the sport.
Q. How does it feel to be the fastest?
A. It makes me happy. But it is a challenge - when you are the fastest, you have to maintain your position. Now everyone is watching me.
Q. Where have you raced against Emmanuel Mutai and Gebremariam?
A. I raced Emmanuel Mutai at the 10000m this year at Castelbuono and I beat him there and I beat Gebremariam in Boston. But even though you've beaten someone doesn't mean that it's easy to beat them again. The next time he may have trained differently and that might.
Q. How do you like races without a pacemaker?
A. Without a pacemaker you can't go outside of your range, you will run your own race. If the pace is too slow, I will try to push it.
Q. What do you think about the WMM bonus? With a win, you might walk away with $700,000.
A. For now I can't say anything about that. The most important thing is just to think about Sunday.
Q. What do you think about the pace for this year?
A. For me, I will want to run my own race. I can't say I will stay behind, but I am not sure if I will be the person to push the pace. Last year I was looking for Haile, but this year I don't know who, Maybe Gebre.
Q. How has your time improved over your racing?
A. Several times I was running 2:06, but in London I was just hoping to... I was thinking I would improve my personal best to 2;06, 2:05. The 2:04 was somewhat surprising.
Q. What do you think about the 2:07:43 course record?
A. I think it is possible that the course record will be broken. If the weather is good, then probably the course record will be broken.
I've started doing marathon-specific training now. I feel like I'm where I need to be. I have Mo and Galen to train with.
I didn't want to do the traditional Half Marathon in the middle of marathon training. It's been a year since I've raced, and I just wanted to get a race in.
I've done 3 or 4 24-mile runs. The next run will be a marathon simulation run. I think I'll start training at altitude in Alburquerque.
I'm ahead of where I was last year. I think I'm ahead of any marathon I've been for any of the other marathons that I've done. With ten weeks to go, I don't see why I can't be in the best shape that I've ever been in.
I like the feeling of being an elite athlete - being able to run 20 miles at 5 minute pace anytime.
There's no such thing as a "cost" with Alberto.
If people can run mid 2:03 on a flat fast course, then I don't see why they can't run 2:06 in New York. Of course you can only go out as fast as the race goes - last year when they went out at 65 minutes, there is only so much faster they could run in the second half of the race.