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A Race Like No Other
2011 ING New York City Marathon Preview and Starter List
By Sharon Ekstrom
See Also: Starter List (bottom of page) | Men's Bios
photo: Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
Geoffrey Mutai Wins 2011 Boston Marathon
With lots of money for appearance fees and prize money, the New York City Marathon traditionally brings in some of the best distance talent in the world - and the 2011 edition of the race will be no exception. Six men who have run sub-2:06 marathon will be running New York, including three who have run sub-2:05 and have times among the 8 fastest marathon finishes ever - Geoffrey Mutai (KEN), Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) and Gebre Gebremariam (ETH). Among these, Geoffrey Mutai (no relation to Emmanuel) has the honor of recording the fastest 26.2 miles ever run: his 2:03:02 while winning the 2011 Boston Marathon. The other two, in addition to holding some of the fastest marathon times ever are the defending champions of the London and New York City Marathons. And those are not the only important runners in the field. Other notables include the 2004 Olympic Silver medalist and 2009 NYC Champion, Meb Keflezighi (USA); 2008 Olympic Silver medalist Jaouad Gharib (MAR); 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist and 2010 London Marathon Champion, Tsegaye Kebede (ETH); 2009 European Champion Viktor Rothlin (SUI) and 2011 World Championship Bronze medallist Feyisa Lilesa (ETH). Not to mention some who might not be on the top of pundits lists for this race, but will undoubtedly perform well: Moses Kigen (KEN) who finished third at the 2010 New York City Marathon; and Mathew Kisorio (KEN), two-time champion of the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon making his marathon debut. This is a loaded field.
Breaking New Ground & Falling Behind
Major Course Records Set In 2011
Boston - 2:05:52 (2010) to 2:03:02 (2011)
Berlin - 2:03:59 (2008) to 2:03:38 (2011)
Frankfurt - 2:04:57 (2010) to 2:03:42 (2011)
London - 2:05:10 (2009) to 2:04:40 (2011)
Chicago - 2:05:41 (2009) to 2:05:37 (2011)
Los Angeles - 2:08:24 (2009) to 2:06:25 (2011/new course)
Houston - 2:07:37 (2010) to 2:07:04 (2011)
With great talent coming to New York, the New York City Marathon used to see some of the fastest marathon finishes in the USA and in the world. In New York City in 1981, Alberto Salazar ran the fastest marathon ever to that time - 2:08:13 - although the course was subsequently remeasured and found to be short by about 150m so the time would not be a record - but even so, New York was as fast as any marathon in the world. But over time, the New York course proved to difficult and when organizers recognized that they could not compete for time, they almost stopped trying and the use of pacers or "rabbits" was stopped.
While many marathons have seen course records continually fall, the New York City Marathon record of 2:07:43 set by Tesfaye Jifar (ETH) in 2001 still stands. When that record was set, the time was the 49th fastest marathon ever run behind and placed New York behind only Chicago and Boston for best American marathon times. Today, however, that record is ranked as the 277th fastest marathon ever run and places New York City Marathon behind four American marathons: Chicago and Boston as well as Los Angeles and Houston both of which saw new records in 2011. With the money and talent New York brings to bear, we'd think that the race should be able to regain its spot among the top three in the USA - and perhaps the 2011 field will elevate New York with a new course record. It's not just about "keeping up with the Joneses" - they want the best and they have it. In addition to the fast field, three of the men have the opportunity to gain an extra $500,000 bonus with the World Marathon Majors bonus and this should encourage some heroics during the race. With one of the best fields ever assembled and the additional back story .
Returning to the Big Apple
Four men from the 2010 edition of the race are returning to the field: defending champion Gebre Gebremariam, runner-up Emmanuel Mutai, third place finisher Moses Kigen and sixth place finisher and 2009 New York City Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi. To recap the 2010 race...a slow start led to a large group of fifteen through the halfway mark; but by mile 18 many of the favorites in the field fell off the pack as the race heated up. Surprisingly, those with the most experience on the course fell back, as marathon debutante Gebremariam and Mutai - who was running for the first time in New York City - battled it out. Mutai faded near mile 25 and Gebremariam took victory in 2:08:14. Mutai finished over a minute later (2:09:18) and Kigen, an unknown flying under-the-radar, finished third in 2:10:39. Keflezighi who fell back as the leaders blew out at mile 18, finished in 2:11:38.
Others in the 2011 field with experience on the New York City marathon course are Jaouad Gharib who finished third in 2009. Viktor Rothlin, who survived a double pulmonary embolism the year prior, started but did not finish the 2010 race.
2010/2011 WMM Prize Purse: And the $500,000 Goes To...
In recent years, the World Marathon Majors series winner has been decided before the New York City Marathon has run - but 2011 is different and it's likely that the three runners in contention will be thinking of the $500,000 bonus that might be theres. Patrick Makau, the world record holder from the 2011 Berlin Marathon tops the leaderboard with 60 points - but three runners at New York can top that number. Emmanuel Mutai, with 55 points, will guarantee a win of the series if he finishes either first or second in the race - after that the math and permutations get more complicated. E. Mutai will still win if he is third or fourth and neither Tsegaye Kebede or Geoffrey Mutai win the marathon. Tsegaye Kebede, with 41 points will win the series if he wins the New York City Marathon and Emmanuel Mutai is third or worse. Similarly, Geoffrey Mutai, with 40 points, will win the series if he wins the race and Emmanuel Mutai is not first or second. Gebre Gebremariam, with 35 points is not technically out of the running. With a win (and Mutai finishing fifth or worse), Gebremariam would tie Makau at 60 points and would take the tiebreaker if his average finish time for his points races were better than Makau's - a virtual impossibility.
Kebede lost the 2009/2010 prize purse in a high speed battle with Sammy Wanjiru in the 2010 Chicago Marathon in one of the most exciting marathon finishes ever. With the money for the 2010/2011 series on the line we might expect to see something as exciting as that Chicago race.
It's not uncommon to see athletes of no relation bearing the same last name in elite fields. At the Boston Marathon this was taken one step further as two Robert K. Cheruiyots, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, held sequential course records and even raced each other. The 2011 New York City Marathon field continues this trend with the two Mutais. What is especially significant about this duo of Geoffrey and Emmanuel is that they are the fastest men in the field, have both won 2011 Spring marathons and both set new course records with 2:03:02 (Boston) and 2:04:40 (London), respectively. Geoffrey and Emmanuel will race against each other for the first time, will be competing for the World Marathon Majors purse and will also be competing to be recognized by the Kenyan Federation, who will choose Kenya's Olympic team from the amazing group of marathoners in competition today.
The 2011 New York City Marathon will be highlight an interesting showdown on the roads of New York City. Whatever ultimately happens, it should be a marathon for the ages.
|Male Elite Athletes|
|Gebre Gebremariam (27)||ETH||1||2:04:53, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Emmanuel Mutai (27)||KEN||2||2:04:40, London, 2011|| History |
|Geoffrey Mutai (30)||KEN||3||2:03:02, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Tsegaye Kebede (24)||ETH||4||2:05:18, Fukuoka, 2009|| History |
|Feyisa Lilesa (21)||ETH||5||2:05:23, Rotterdam, 2011|| History |
|Jaouad Gharib (39)||MAR||6||2:05:27, London, 2009|| History |
|Meb Keflezighi (36)||USA||7||2:09:15, New York City, 2009|| History |
|Matthew Kisorio (22)||KEN||8||Debut|| History |
|Moses Kigen Kipkosgei (28)||KEN||9||2:10:12, Nairobi, 2009|| History |
|Viktor Röthlin (37)||SUI||10||2:07:23, Tokyo, 2008|| History |
|Bobby Curtis (26)||USA||11||Debut|| History |
|Ed Moran (30)||USA||12||Debut|| History |
|Abdellah Falil (35)||MAR||14||2:08:18, Daegu, 2011|| History |
|Juan Luis Barrios (28)||MEX||15||2:14:20, Torreon, 2011|| History |
|Stephen Kibet (24)||KEN||16||2:09:27, Dubai, 2011|| History |
Martin Lel (33) KEN | |2:05:15, London, 2008 | History |
|German Silva (43)||MEX|| ||2:08:56, Boston, 1998|| History |
|Greg Van Hest (38)||NED|| ||2:10:05, Rotterdam, 1999|| History |
|Antonio Sousa (41)||POR|| ||2:13:00, Hamburg, 2002|| History |
|Christian Belz (37)||SUI|| ||2:15:08, Koln, 2007|| History |
|Michael Wardian (37)||USA|| ||2:17:49, Duluth, 2011|| History |
|Koen Neven (34)||BEL|| ||2:17:53, Antwerp, 2011|| History |
|Shadrack Biwott (26)||KEN|| ||2:20:28, Los Angeles, 2011|| History |
|John Beattie (25)||GBR|| ||Debut|| History |
|Stephen Muzhingi||ZIM|| ||Debut|| History |