Race Recap: Men's Championships | Women's Championships
Results: Men's Results | Women's Results
What To Expect: MarathonGuide.com's Preview |
IAAF's Men's Preview | IAAF's Women's Preview
Race/Athlete Profiles: The Men | The Women
Facts/Figures/Lists: Men's Past Athlete Performances | Women's Past Athlete Performances | Men's Starting Lists | Women's Starting Lists
Extras: Video Coverage | Course Map
2009 World Championships Marathon Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
The 2009 IAAF World Championships in Athletics has brought the best athletes in the world to Berlin.For the first time in history, the men's and women's championships marathons will be held on the same weekend, creating a viewing extravaganza for marathon fans. Like the Olympics, each country has its own selection process, but unlike the Olympics each country can send up to six athletes instead of just three - and a few countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Japan and China have taken advantage of that to send deep teams. While nothing can rival the Olympic Games for prestige - or an Olympic Gold for glory - a World Championship title is nearly as great. In some years, the depth of the Championships fields is not nearly the same caliber as an Olympic field, but the 2009 field is exceptionally strong. For the 2009 championships, we see many of the most familiar names in marathoning: Merga, Kebede, Kipkoech Cheruiyot, Dos Santos, Goumri and Gharib for the men's race and Tune, Goucher, Radcliffe, Chunxiu, Kirop, Shibui, Biktimirova and Zakharova for the women's race - to name a few.
The Men's Preview
The 2009 World Championships Men's Marathon will see strong teams from Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco and Eritrea. This is no surprise as these African nations turn out the best distance runners in the world. For 2009, the athletic federations from each of these nations are sending their top performers many of whom are also racing for points in the World Marathon Majors series. Deriba Merga (ETH), Tsegay Kebede (ETH), Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN), Daniel Rono (KEN), Abderrahim Goumri (MAR) and Jaouad Gharib (MAR) are among the men who can be expected to lead the field and who may also take this opportunity to move up the 2008/2009 leaderboard in the series. Absent will be two of the fastest and most promising marathoners Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) and Duncan Kibet (KEN) will be sitting out preparing for a world record attempt in Berlin, while Sammy Wanjiru (KEN), who tops the Marathon Majors leaderboard with 63 points, will be absent as he prepares for the Chicago Marathon.
The fastest man in the field is Abel Kirui with a 2:05:04 from the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon. Despite his only victory being the 2007 Vienna City Marathon (2:07:38), his second place finish at the 2007 Berlin Marathon behind Haile Gebrselassie's first world record was impressive and ranks him as sixth fastest man in the world. Three other men on the roster have run a sub 2:06 marathon: Jaouad Gharib (2003 World Championships), Tsegay Kebede (2009 London Marathon) and Jaoud Goumri (runner-up 2007 London Marathon, 2007 and 2008 New York City Marathon). A host of others have run sub-2:09 and are known as superb race strategists and strength runners and have been champions where it matters, at some of the toughest marathons in the world: Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Boston Marathon, 2006 Chicago Marathon), Deribe Merga (2009 Boston Marathon), Benjamin Kiptoo (2009 Rome Marathon), Marilson Dos Santos (2008 New York City Marathon), Daniel Rono (2007 Toronto Waterfront Marathon) and Yared Asmeron (2004 San Sebastian Marathon). With a course like Berlin, the race is bound to be fast and with a roster such as this expect an incredible event.
The American team is missing its strongest marathoners (Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein) and will not expect to place its runners in the top 5, although we may hope to see strong performances from Dan Browne, Justin Young, Nate Jenkins, Matt Gabrielson and Edwardo Torres. While Olympian Browne remains the veteran on the team, he has the fastest personal best in the US field with a 2:11:35 win from the 2002 National Championships. He came in 6th place at the 2008 US Olympics men's Marathon Team Trials with a 2:13:23 finish, not bad for a runner whose specialty was 10000M. Young, Jenkins, Gabrielson and Torres whose personal bests range between 2:14-2:17, may gain much insight from racing in such a high caliber field.
The Women's Preview
The women's race at the 2009 World Championships has a number of runners who could place strongly - and it will be an exceptional women's race. Among the women who typically run in the USA and Europe, we look to see a rematch of some of the women who ran the Boston Marathon: Salina Kosgei will not be in the race, but finishers two through five from Boston will be in attendance including: - Dire Tune (ETH), Kara Goucher (USA), Bezunesh Bekele (ETH) and Helena Kiprop (KEN).
Surprisingly, two expected champions will not be in the field. Reigning champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, the two-time winner in 2003 and 2007, will not be on hand to defend her title. Irina Mikitenko, a German National Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain would be our next favorite in the field. Radcliffe who had a number of setbacks around the 2008 Beijing Olympics has recovered from a complex surgery to her foot. Yet, this world record marathon holder remains on the fence about her participation in the race, despite her win of the 2009 New York City Half Marathon as a test to herself against a competitive field, one week before she was scheduled to race in Berlin.. Then, there are rumors swirling that Chinese powerhouse Zhou Chunxiu's levels of fitness have been inadequate all season to compete in such a competitive field. Two-time winner of the London Marathon (2008 and 2009) Irina Mikitenko, a German national, withdrew from the field following the death of her father less than one month ago.
2009 Boston Women's Marathon Redux
The Women's World Championships Marathon Championships looks much like the 2009 Boston Marathon - and there will be a rematch of sorts at this race. Tune, 24, is a two-time Houston Marathon winner (2007, 2008) and a Boston Marathon champion (2008); but she has not previously performed well at a marathon championship. At the 2005 World Championships she was 37th and at the 2007 World Championships she did not finish and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics she finished a poorer than expected 15th. Bekele's debut marathon - 2:23:09 at the 2008 Dubai Marathon - remains her fastest at 2:23:09, but she proved no match for Tune and Goucher in Boston wehn both finished more than 30 seconds before her. Despite being beaten by Tune at Boston, we expect Goucher to have an explosive performance following two third place finishes - and two learning experiences - her debut at the 2008 New York City Marathon and followup at the 2009 Boston Marathon. While a favorite of all Americans, Goucher will have to battle it out against the best of the rest of the world with Ethiopia, Russia, Japan, China and Kenya entering strong teams.
Top Asian Contenders
While American and European fans are most familiar with the runners who dominate their races: Africans, Russians and the occasional American or Brit, there are a number of female Asian runners from Japan and China who are top performers that rarely race outside of Asia. Top asian contenders are Zhou Chunxiu (CHN), Bai Xue (CHN), Yoshimi Ozaki (JPN) and Yoko Shibui (JPN).
2008 Beijing Olympic marathon bronze medalist, 2007 World Championships silver medalist and 2007 London Marathon champion, Zhou Chunxiu of China, is one of the fastest in the field - one of nine women to ever run sub-2:20. Rumor has it that Zhou is not in her best shape and her "qualifying" marathon for the Championships was a 2:27:07, while her Spring 2009 marathon finish was a 2:29:02.
China's Bai Xue who is the youngest marathoner in the field at 20 years old. A marathon debut at the 2003 Beijing Marathon in 2:37:07 at age 15 was an incredible feat. In 2008 she has shown improvements with a personal best and second place finish of 2:23:27 at the Chinese National Championships in Xiamen.
Another up-and-comer, Ozaki of Japan debuted at the 2008 Nagoya Marathon (2:26:19) finishing in second place. She next won the 2008 Tokyo Marathon (2:23:30) in the only other marathon she has run. With the 4th fastest time in the field, Ozaki will be racing internationally for the first time.
The second fastest woman in the field, Yoko Shibui, has been a wildcard since she won the 2001 Osaka Marathon in (2:23:11), the fastest female debut at that time. Shibui, the 7th fastest woman in the world, won the 2004 Berlin Marathon in 2:19:41 setting a Japanese record. And despite inconsistencies in her performances for the past nine years, she still is running strong - winning the 2009 Osaka Marathon (2:23:42).
Goucher will certainly be a major star of the event. Sorely disappointed in her performance at the 2009 Boston Marathon, she carefully planned her race calendar and the Berlin World Championships is what she decided on. After a spring/summer season of personal bests in the one mile (4:37.58) and 2000m (5:41.28) along with a win at the National Championship 5000m (15:20.94), Goucher could be ready to blow away the competition. Also representing the USA are Desiree Davila, Paige Higgins and Tera Moody, all 2:30 marathoners competing in their first world championships marathon.