In a marathon or in any race, most of the attention is usually focused on the men’s segment of the event.
Over the years, foreigners, including the likes of Gebre Gebre Gebremariam of Ethopia, Martin Lel of Kenya, Paul Terget of Kenya, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, Testaye Jifar of Ethiopia, and the list goes on, have shined in different years in the New York City Marathon. Fans crowded the streets in each of the boroughs and more so in Manhattan to catch and cheer on the athletes. Finishing such a race is more important than time. The better runners are usually after the course record.
Last Sunday morning under just delightful warm weather conditions, a female and not a male, went out fast in anticipation of a record performance in the 42nd annual event.
All eyes were on Mary Keitany to see if her strategy of gong out fast and running away from the field would pay off in the long run. However, she could not hold on to the lead and two main rivals gained ground during the second half of the race, especially in the closing miles. The pace setter just could not hold on in the 26.2 mile race as Firehivot Dado of Ethiopia overtook her and won the race in 2:23.15. Buzunesh Deda, now residing in the Bronx overtook the pace setter and finished second four seconds behind the winner.
Keitany dropped back to finish in third place with a time of 2:23.39. But for a long period of time, the record of 2:22.31 seemed in jeopardy. Margaret Okayo, also of Kenya, established that record.
On the men’s side, Geoffrey Mutai, also of Kenya, broke away from the field during the second half of the race in Manhattan and covered the course in a record time of 2:05.06, breaking the old mark of 2:07.43 set by Jifar.
Marathon victories are nothing new for him, for he won the Boston Marathon in 2:08.02, his personal best time. Mutai thus became the initial first place finisher of both the Boston and New York Marathons to accomplish such an honor in the same calendar year since Rodgers Rop when the latter turned in such a feat in 2002. Rop was clocked in 2:08.07. He, too, came from Kenya.
Mutai certainly enjoys competing in New York. And it marked his first time competing in the five borough event, thus making his debut a success.
Mutai turned in such a tremendous performance in both of those races.
“The course in New York was tough and the weather was so good,” the winner assessed about the grind.
In addition, the men’s race didn’t have any pacesetters. In some marathons, such as those in London and Berlin, the organizers instruct a pace setter to take ‘ it’ out.
The story of the event is not only the race itself but it was the atmosphere, and the number of spectators and runners who made the noise. People came from all over the world, and of all different occupations, as it is a true international event year in and year out. And businesses flourish during this period of time with the merchants really prospering.
Even New York City Mayor Bloomberg was on hand to help start the race in Staten Island wishing the marathoners good luck
Now comes the Olympics in 2012. And it is all up to the selection committee.