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Posts Tagged ‘abderrahim goumri’

Although my running of the NYC Marathon in 2008 is  my best marathon experience to date, I still would choose spectating the race over running it. I staked out my cheering corner years ago, at 45th Road and Vernon Blvd, right before the 14-mile mark, and right after the water station and port-a-potties. (Of course this is in Queens.) I now recognize the other folks who cheer there year after year, including the couple with the golden retrievers who bring cartons of tissues to offer to snotty runners (once the fast people come through, they hardly ever get a rejection). This year I was joined by my dear friend and running buddy EN and my TeamFox teammate @nyrunningmom.

I got there at 10 AM, and EN and I passed the time before the female elites arrived cheering on the wheelchair athletes.  When we shout “Go athlete!” the wheeled competitors usually give us back a composed wave, as if they were visiting dignitaries. I always get choked up when the first few racers come by, overcome with the scope of the event and also with all the effort, planning and dreaming that most of these runners put in to prepare. These folks train for 4 months or longer–heck, I know people who don’t even date the same person for that long.

Before we knew it, the street-clearing police were whoop-whoop-ing their way past.  Mary Wittenberg followed, in the lead vehicle (she waved when I shouted “Hi Mary!”), with the motorcycle cops and the press truck in tow. Here they were, the female elites! I will never get over how quickly they pass, as if they were an apparition. Sometimes I even wonder if they hear us when we cheer for them as there is absolutely no acknowledgment. I was shouting my lungs out for Shalane, I was still yelling “Go Shalane!” when they were four blocks away. She looked relaxed and strong, and I was excited that she didn’t really have to share the spotlight with any other top-notch American marathoners. Even though it was the USA Marathon Championships, there wasn’t much noise made about Katie McGregor (who came in second among all Americans), etc. But I can tell you this: no one was looking for Edna Kiplagat– we were cheering for Christelle, Mara, Shalane, Kim and Derartu. This is what I love about the marathon–there’s no calling the winners at this distance. Who predicted Edna for the win? No one! No one was even talking about her until Mile 22!

It was so much fun to root on the American women running in the championship race, since they all had their names on their fancy bibs. This is when I realized that EN is as much of a cheer junkie as I am–to conclude an exciting round of shouting and clapping he would give his goofy laugh of enjoyment, a staccato Huh-huh, huh-huh that after an hour started to bring a smile to my face knowing my friend was getting as much out of this as I was. It felt right, cheering with the guy who had run stride for stride with me through 23 miles of this same marathon.

Soon enough then elite men were approaching. I was jittery with the excitement of seeing Haile run by me live and in person. I was also cheering for Meb, Dathan and Jorge. And I am always pleased to see Goumri on the course; he is one of my favorite underdogs along with Merga. I wish I could write you a few flowery sentences describing what it was like to watch Haile in action (when I ran the NYC Half-Marathon this spring, I followed far behind him on the course, and never clapped eyes on him), but it was all over in the blink of an eye (#twss). Little did I know that the big pack of runners would break up nearly the second they began the ascent up my bridge. My bridge, which will forever will be known as the Bridge that Broke Haile. (At least, that is how I will now refer to her.)

For the first time ever, I’d made a sign for the runners. I wanted to be as inclusive as possible, but I also wanted all my running buddies from Twitter to spot me easily. After the elites, the first runner I saw come by was my GMR teammate AN, who spotted me before I recognized him. Then @Lord_Baker sped by with a smile, then Coach Ramon, and then the river of runners started to flow. I saw dozens of familiar runners, including TNT friends, GMR teammates, and Twitter buddies both local and from out-of-town. An excellent moment was when Matt @luau stopped to give me a big sweaty hug and take an actual picture!  I was so excited when I saw my girl @MauraDeedy trot past–she looked strong and happy her first time through the distance. And another marathon debutante, @SharonPaige, ran by me in a bright green shirt, big white headphones, and a look of calm intent upon her face. I thought for sure I’d missed JG of RunWestchester.com fame, but after a while I saw him walking towards me with a half-smile on his face and his hair pleasantly disheveled. His quads had laid down the law a few miles earlier so he was run-walking until he got over my bridge into Manhattan, at which point he would DNF and head home. His plan had always been to stop running around Mile 16, but since he was run-walking it meant that I got to actually converse with him instead of clap and cheer as he ran by. An odd sort of treat–I’d have rather seen JG run by in a blaze of glory, but I was also happy to chat with him.

And so it went, EN and I clapping, cheering and clanging for nearly four hours, until we were dizzy with the ceaseless undulation of runners approaching and departing. The only thing that would snap us out of our zone was when the wind would pick up cold and strong, whipping my sign and numbing my hands. I felt for the runners, who were headed straight into it. Even though the sun was rising, it felt like the temperature was dropping. I had planned to stick it out until 2PM, but at 1:30 most of the racers coming through were walking, with only a few determined souls running. While rationally I understand that every person is on the course with their own set of goals and expectations for the race, it is difficult for me to cheer for folks walking when they are only just halfway through. My heart breaks to see them, because all I can think of is the difficulty that awaits them at Mile 22, Mile 24, or 26 if they are already walking at 14. I know this is simplistic, and I knew that several of my friends were in that walking horde. I hoped they were dressed warmly. I hoped they had brough their cameras and were treating the race as a pleasure cruise to pass the time. I would never want to be out on the course for 7 hours, which is precisely why I admire those who stick it out for that long. I admit it: my thoughts turned towards my warm apartment, and towards the four hours of TV watching I had in front of me (I had DVRed the broadcast of the pro race on NBC). And so, with a final cheer and wave, EN and I hunched into the wind and trudged down 45th Road to the 7 train to find out who had won the professional part of the race, since clearly all the folks we had cheered on this morning were their own kind of winner.

My spectating didn’t end, though, since I spent my hours watching the taped race catching up with all my friends’ race results on Twitter, and tweeting them congratulations. There were more PRs and successful debuts than their were disheartening finishes. By the end of the day, I was amazed at some of the times my friends had thrown down; I was thrilled by the racer’s ebullience and pride; I was affirmed by the achievements and effort. But most of all, I was proud to be counted among them. We were all marathoners, whether it takes us 3  hours or 7 to complete the race. We are all marathoners, whether we run the distance once, or dozens of times.

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….”And who is this upstart wearing a numbered bib? An American… with pigtails and a pink singlet… sprinting past Mikitenko and Wami… they are stunned by this runner they’ve never heard of nor seen before… wow folks, this is the sports story of the century… look at her pigtails fly behind her as she breaks the tape!!”…..

Oops, wrong post. This is my Flora London Marathon predictions post, not my fantasy post.

Yes, I am getting up at 4 AM EST to watch the live stream on UniversalSports.com.

Yes, I will probably sniffle quietly into my coffee cup as I mutter damn adductor brevis over and over again.

Yes, I will definitely wake up Husband sometime around 6 AM as I cheer from the kitchen table.

Men’s Race (updated 6:30 PM 4/25)

  1. Sammy Wanjiru
  2. Abderrahim Goumri
  3. Martin Lel Zersenay Tadese

When Wanjiru first hit my radar, I was a little put off by his boastful nature. But then, I was won over by his audacity and confidence, despite his young age (he’s 22). I was converted once & for all when he won the Olympic Marathon by training for the heat and humidity, and winning as a front runner, leaving WMM champions dropped and broken behind him. I will always root for him to win, unless he’s running against Ryan. I wish I could pick Goumri to win, as I love love the Underdog, but Sammy’s just got too much going on; I don’t know if Goumri is hungry enough to beat him. @6:30 PM–I just scratched Lel as he has withdrawn from the race due to his hip problems (Martin I feel your disappointment!). I’ve put Tadese in his place instead, who makes his debut for the distance but I like the idea of a marathon newbie taking third and leaving everyone else grumbling. I also predict that Meb Keflezighi will finish in the top ten. Based on last year’s top ten finishing times — all under 2:11:44 — Dathan Ritzenheim has a chance to finish in the top ten as well if you consider his PR (2:11:07) and Olympic showing (#9), but that’s if some of the other faster guys in the field burn out and he turns in another PR. (Also, why did I think Khalid Khannouchi was running this marathon?)

Women’s Race

  1. Irina Mikitenko
  2. Gete Wami
  3. Svetlana Zakharova

I like the idea of Irina winning London two in a row; Gete, last year’s WMM Champ, should never be underestimated; and for third place I couldn’t decide between Ludmila Petrova and Zakharova. I ultimately went with Zakharova for third primarily because I think Svetlana is a super name. Do you think her friends call her Lana for short? That’s kind of sexy. Or maybe they call her Zak. Would it be cruel or cool to name your baby girl Svetlana in today’s USA? (Sorry for this strange digression. Blame this.)

Go here for more great info on all the elite runenrs in tomorrow’s race:

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The Berlin Marathon marked the beginning of the Fall season, it being the first of the three World Majors (Chicago and my NYC follow) that occur in the second half of the year (Boston and London are in the Spring, which you should all already know)… Haile owns this race, having set the world record there last year; and now he’s gone and set another world freaking record while also ensuring himself a spot in history as the first man to run 26.2 miles in under 2:04. Hubba hubba, who needs the Olympics?… I am psyched to see Irina Mikitenko win again, I watched her win London last year on my computer…  The elite field for NYC is nothing short of spectacular, Mary & Corps have really outdone themselves this Olympic year…. As I mentioned earlier, my girl Kara will be debuting her 26.2 mile chops… Also joining will be Paula to defend her title, 2007 World Marathon Majors winner Gete Wami, 2008 Boston Marathon winner Dire Tune, the majestic Catherine Ndereba. Among the male elites, I am most excited about Paul Tergat, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, and Abderrahim Goumri (he came in second after Martin Lel last year)… With each new name the NYRR’s releases, I feel a pang that I won’t be at my usual spot in Queens to watch these inspiring athletes flash by…. I ran my last 20-miler of training on Sunday, actually logging 20.33 miles in 3:09, wow. Ideally October 12th would have been my last 20-miler before taper, but I am determined not only to run the Staten Island Half-Marathon, but to race it… As my training winds down, I can already sense the post-race blues which await me. My friend and colleague EG recommended I read A Race Like No Other to get myself psyched for race day, since oddly I’ve begun to lose enthusiasm for this race I’ve been dreaming about for over a year… Has anyone read A Race Like No Other yet? I know I sent out some free copies… The reviews have been very positive, with an excerpt in this month’s Runner’s World, and an early mention in the New York Post. Library Journal says the book “is poetry for runners; pulsing and energizing in its immediacy, and as raw and persistent as its subject.” Now if only I could get someone to say that about Pigtails FlyingBenjamin Cheever writes in his review in The New York Times that Liz Robbins “packed her book with scrumptious details…” I expect more book coverage as marathon madness heats up in the city; early last week I received my info booklet in the mail, and today I saw my first subway ad as I headed down into the E/V at Fifth Avenue to go to acupuncture… My little G was a perfect running buddy yesterday, it amazed me when I ran past the point in the route I’d always sensed, viscerally, was the 10-mile point. I looked down at little G, who told me: 9.95 miles! See, he and I already have a special connection…One of my industry contacts works support crew in ultramarathons, even though she herself specializes in 5- and 10k’s. She passed me an article by Sunny Blende from the September 2008 issue of UltraRunning magazine that explains why I sweat more now than I ever have before during my runs: “you will sweat sooner and more as you increase your miles and become more fit.” Sweet!… Husband spent the weekend at the Pennsylvania house, leaving me pining away for the mountains’ Fall foliage. Fittingly, Manhattan User’s Guide has raked together all the links we need to get our peep on… And, will someone please give me a massive pile of cash so I can redecorate my apartment entirely from West Elm? Browsing this catalog is like staring at Clive Owen behind glass–he’s right there, and so, so gorgeous, but I just…can’t…touch.

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I’ve had the Healthy Kidney 10K in my calendar for a couple months now, but not to run. Oh no.  This was one to spectate, and even though the course made it impossible for me to see the athletes except at the start and the finish, I wasn’t going to pass up my chance to see world-class athletes do their thing.  Besides, I ran this baby last year. Who was I most jazzed to see? Dathan Ritzenheim (defending champ and member of the Olympic Marathon Team), Andrew Carlson (he won the 15K Championships earlier this year and finshed a close second in the 8K here in Central Park), Marilson Gomes Dos Santos (NYC Marathon champ in 2006), and Abderrahim Goumri (second in the NYC Marathon 2007). Of course, Ritz, the defending champ and course record-holder, pulled out due to illness (I say “of course” because he pulled out of the 8K Championship race several weeks ago, too. He’s such a tease). Really, though, who can blame the dude, no use risking anything with the Olympics coming up. It was still a thrill to welcome back Marilson and Gourmi to NYC after seeing them run our marathon. As far as the people’s part of the race, I was impressed to learn that 17,000 local runners registered for the race!  While I was glad I wasn’t racing in that horde of people myself, I was also a bit glowy at the thought of belonging to such an enthusiastic community. Runners rock.

It was a beautiful day, and even though the thermometer said 50 degrees, it felt wamer given the sunshine and the humidity; the elites were verrry sweaty when they crossed the finish.  The NYRR has this sweet ceremony where each elite is escorted to the starting line as they’re introduced by one of the kids from the NYRR Foundation program. I love watching this because the kids are clearly honored, and shy, and the elites get a kick out of these aspiring young runners. In the photo to the left, you can see them all lined up waiting to be called.

In the photo below are the elites (and a few superb local runners, running for club points) lined up at the start; what a beautiful sight. (L to R: Makau, Kiplagat, Beyi, Gomes Dos Santos, ??, Zaabi, Alemu, ??, Hartmann and Carlson. Gourmi must be further to the left.) I really like this picture below of Jason Hartmann offering the intense Andrew Carlson a sportsmanly handshake.

We all know now that Makau won, 12 seconds behind Ritz’s course record in 28:19; Gomes Dos Santos came in second; and Richard Kiplagat came in third. Carlson and Goumri both finished in 29:51. Click for the official results.

I was a little bummed when the elites skedaddled off the course right away. They hung out a little more after the 8K Championships, gave some high-fives to the fans and whatnot. Kudos to Wittenberg et al for pulling together such a stellar lineup of elites (we do notice, so thank you). Anyway, I took as many pictures as I could, given the fact that my camera is slow as shit.  Click to watch the NYRR video.

Race reports from local runners:

 

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