Friday, 20 January 2012


The US Olympic marathon trials were contested last weekend in Houston, Texas.  Unfortunately there was no live streaming of the race as NBC seems to think we still live in the 20th century where tape-delayed sports were tolerated.  Meb Keflezighi broke away from Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman late in the race to win the title, though all three men will toe the line in London on August 12th.  In the women's race, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in the 10,000 meters Shalane Flanagan won the title in only her second ever marathon, she'll be joined by Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher.  

Following the race, I came across a posting of the fastest 400 marathons ever run.  Kenya absolutely dominates this list - in the top 100 performances, Kenyan runners account for 62.  Sixty-two!!  Including the four fastest performances ever, and eight of the top ten.  
Geoffrey Mutai - the fastest marathon ever run, though not the world record.
Kenya's neighbours to the north, Ethiopia, have 24 performances in the top 100, and the only two places in the top ten not owned by Kenyans.  Only six other countries are represented in the top 100, four American performances, four by Moroccans, two Brazilian performances and one each for South Africa, France and Portugal (with these last two being the two slowest times in that last, both at 2:06.36...if you can call that slow). 

There were 150 Kenyan men and 50 Kenyan women who made the Olympic qualifying standard (compare that to Canada where so far we have two men and zero women who've made the cut - granted it's a super tough standard, that just shows how dominant Kenyan distance running is...) so making the Kenyan Olympic marathon team may be the toughest squad to make for the 2012 games.

Included on the short-list of candidates (the final team will be selected on April 30th following the Boston, London and Rotterdam marathons) are the following class runners:
- World record holder Patrick Makau (2:03.38 at the Berlin Marathon in 2011)
- World's fastest marathoner Geoffrey Mutai (2:03.02 at the Boston Marathon in 2011, not a world record as Boston is a point-to-point, net-downhill course that doesn't meet the IAAF criteria for a world record)
- World's second-fastest marathoner Moses Mosop (2:03.06 at the Boston Marathon in 2011, two-time world cross-country champion)
- 2009 and 2011 world marathon champion Abel Kirui (who won in 2011 by 2:28, the largest margin of victory ever)
- 2011 London Marathon champion Emmanuel Mutai (2:04.40 personal best, 9th best performance ever, silver medallist at the 2009 world championships)
- 2011 Frankfurt marathon champion Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (2:03.42 personal best, second fastest 'official' marathon ever and fourth-fastest marathon overall)
Only three of those six, which includes the four fastest men in history and five of the eight fastest men in history, will make the team.  

World record holder Patrick Makau
Despite this incredible record of dominance, only one Kenyan has won the Olympic marathon - the late Samuel Wanjiru in Beijing in 2008.  That may be why Abel Kirui is on the short-list of six runners despite having a personal best that is two to three minutes slower than everyone else on the list - he's come up big when it counts, being the winner of the last two world championships.

For those interested, Geoffrey Mutai's pace per kilometre in Boston was 2:55 - I could maybe knock out two of those in a row before falling over.

Speaking of dominance, check out Pearl Jam rehearsing for Saturday Night Live at the height of their Seattle Grunge Superpowers:

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