Sunday, August 12, 2012

Men's Olympic Marathon: Top 3 Inspirations and Disappointments

Like many runners, I awoke feeling like a kid at Christmas. The men's Olympic marathon was to start at 6am! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I woke up a little after 5:30, fired up the espresso machine, and go to watching. My viewing was enhanced by my running friends on Facebook, Twitter and good ole text messaging.

Afterwards, I went for a 10K recovery run and digested the morning's race. Here are my thoughts on the top three inspirations and disappointments of the morning:


1. Stephen Kiprotich

With the Kenyans being so dominant in the sport, it was quite a surprise to see Uganda take the gold, their only medal in the Olympics. Like his eastern African counterparts, Stephen Kiprotich was humble and appreciative of his victory. Watching the interview with him afterwards, I became even happier for him.

In the final stages of the race, he was with Kenyans Kirui (2nd) and another Kiprotich (3rd). The Ugandan Kiprotich grinded them down and then made his move on a turn and cruised in to victory. The two Kenyans just couldn't keep up.

2. Meb Keflezighi

Hardly anybody expected the Americans to medal and they didn't, but Meb's performance was still top notch. Wisdom and discipline showed as he patiently went from 14th, to 12th, to 10th and then continued to climb his way to finish in 4th place. Though he was relatively far behind the 3rd place finisher, it was impressive to watch him continue to pick runners off. He looked quite pleased with his performance after the race, as he should have been. His experience paid off.

3. Marilson Dos Santos

Dos Santos took the lead early in the race, and I along with many others thought he was burning the candle at both ends. But he held up well, holding on for fifth place and only getting passed by Meb late in the race. The candle had more wax than I thought. Gutsy running and a good result.


1. Ryan Hall

Hall dropped near the mile 10 mark, citing hamstring tightness. Several ripped on the guy for not toughing it out, but I don't necessarily agree with that. Hard to tell the severity unless you were in his shoes, so I don't think it's fair to judge.

I do take issue with his approach, though. I'm a borderline atheist but I still respect Hall's religious beliefs. However, I question his decision to make God his coach. I think having an actual mortal as a coach would help him improve, and being in the spotlight of success more often would enable him to speak to more folks about his beliefs, if he so chooses. He's a good guy at heart and very likable, so I would love to see him do better with his running and kick butt in his next event.

2. Abdi Abdirahman

I know very little about Abdi, but have little doubt that he's an outstanding individual and obviously a world class athlete. It was the second part of the one-two punch to learn shortly after Hall dropped that he DNF'd as well. As of now, not a lot of info out on what happened.

3. The Kenyans

Many scratched their heads at the decision by the Kenyan Olympic Committee not to include Geoffrey Mutai and Patrick Makau. When Moses Mosup dropped from the team due to a tendon injury, the hole appeared to be that much wider. While Kirui and the other Kiprotich took the silver and bronze, it wasn't the gold. For a country so dominant in the sport, that's got to sting at least a little bit, but to say the Kenyans are starting to fade would be laughable.

* Dishonorable Mention - NBC

The marathon started at 6am EST and obviously much earlier for those living out west. Only the most hardcore fans would be watching, yet NBC chose to fill the first hour or so with fluff human-interest pieces and pre-recorded interviews, only to go back to live coverage leaving viewers to quickly try and figure out all of the changes that happened in the meantime. 

In all fairness, NBC settled down the last hour and gave the race ample coverage, though it still included the usual questionable statements made by the announcers (contrary to what they said, anyone who knows anything about running hopes that Brazil does not follow suit with a route that twists and turns only for the benefit of going past scenic landmarks like London did). The relatively generous air time in the second half of the race saved them some clout. 

Their coverage as a whole has also been a disappointment. Yes, all of the events were streamed live but they were chocked full of commercials and a lot of action was missed. I understand the need to pay the bills, but it was a bit ridiculous. When questioned about the very popular #NBCfail hashtag on Twitter, NBC responded by saying they were a vocal minority and NBC was making more money than they thought. In other words, money speaks louder. Lovely. I hope NBC gives more consideration to some of the constructive criticism otherwise the pirate feeds will only become more popular.  


As for me, ran a 10K recovery run. Pleasantly surprised at how good my legs are feeling, despite the past two days. Another soupy day but plenty of cloud cover, and it even rained for the last two miles which was a real treat. 

Ran 6.3 miles @ 7:59/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Mostly flat. 
Lower 70s, overcast, humid, rain the last two miles. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts. 

1 comment:

unstrung said...

Well spoke, sir. Especially about having a mortal as a coach.