Saturday, April 12, 2008

You Gotta See This

Just in case you guys weren't aware, one of the two best non-olympic races of the year, from the fans' perspective, is tomorrow: the London Marathon.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to find a live streaming video of the World Cross Country Championships, and even though it took me a while to find the stream and I only saw the last fifteen minutes of the men's race, it reminded me how absolutely awesome it is to see one of the greatest performances of all time, as it happens. Kenenisa Bekele had his shoe pulled off his heel about two kilometers into the twelve kilometer race, and came to a dead stop in the middle of a big pack of runners in order to put it back on. It took him a few minutes to make up the ground on the leaders, including defending champ Zersenay Tadesse, but by the time I started watching he only looked a little flustered from the extra effort.

Just as the last two kilometer lap began, Bekele swung out a bit wide from his position behind Tadesse, and wiped his brow. Moments like these are why I watch our sport on television or the internet. What most people see is just a group of guys running around in circles. What I see is the greatest middle-long distance runner the world has ever seen realizing that, in fact, he will win his eleventh senior men's World Cross title. He had been worried due to the energy he wasted dealing with his shoe, but he wiped his brow and proceded to destroy the three others who were in the lead group, a fact that was betrayed by the scant three-second winning margin.

Maybe my point in all of this is that the race is much more than the result. And tomorrow, free on the internet (visit for whatever information you're looking for) will be the London Marathon, live. That means 4:00 a.m. for most of you, but I do believe you can watch it later, whenever you want. I'll be watching live, because it starts at 10:00 a.m. my time. I'll also be watching because London never fails to have the most ridiculous field of any race. To put it into perspective, the field is as good as any field ever assembled for any marathon in the U.S., plus Paul Tergat (world record holder until last year), Ryan Hall (sixth last year, and sub-1:00 half marathoner), and Sammy Wanjiru. Now, in case you don't know who Sammy Wanjiru is, you better ask somebody. This guy has set the world record in the half marathon three times, once taking it back from the only other guy in the world who runs sub-1:00 half marathons like it's his job (and actually it is), Haile Gebreselassie. Wanjiru is a Kenyan, not from the Rift Valley, who lives in Japan, has run 58:33 for the half, and last year ran his first marathon. He and his coach decided that for his first marathon, he wouldn't push himself too hard, so they said, instead of a "fast" time, he would try the course record at the Fukuoka Marathon last December. He did just that, and snuck in just under the course record in 2:06:39. And he's only 21 years old.

So while it's always a pleasure watching the big dogs like Abderrahim Goumri, Felix Limo and Hendrick Ramaala, my eyes will be on legend Paul Tergat, a personal favorite (tactically) Martin Lel, 2007 Vienna champ and then world champ Luke Kibet, our boy Ryan Hall, and my heavy favorite, Sammy Wanjiru.

If you like running, you can't miss this one, guys. Just make sure you don't read the results before you watch the video. It's going to be SICK.

1 comment:

RM said...

Wow, long and well-spoken post. Brian's right, this is probably the best race at this distance to observe. It's a big city race, but VERY fast, very popular, and gets REAL competition taking it seriously. Something that New York and Chicago and Boston could only hope for. I was considering waking up early, but maybe I'll watch it later in the day or something. Go Ryan Hall!