You know the running news must be big if even national newspapers, like the Washington Post, are picking it up.
This year Boston Marathon was absolutely breathtaking: amazing performances both by the men and the women elites.
In the women field was the solo effort of Kim Smith (New Zealand, training in Providence, RI) to leave everybody in awe; she left the rest of the pack 30~40 seconds behind for 30km until (what I heard to be) a cramp in her calf forced her to quit. As the pack moved along, the three leaders began to stretch in what was going to become one of the most exciting finish of all times. Desiree Davila set the pace as Caroline Kilel and Sharon Cherop were following closely; many hoped in Davila to be the first American woman to win Boston since Lisa Rainsberger in 1985 — in the final half a mile, Davila tried to work the hills against Kilel, but at the end Kilel’s track speed carried her through the finish line, 2 seconds faster than Davila: absolutely breathtaking.
And then was the men race. Ryan Hall led the men pack for some time, but he wasn’t able to keep up with Mutai and Mosop, as Hall said during the press conference:
There I was running 2:04 pace and I couldn’t even see the leaders and I thought, ‘oh man.’
Let’s put this in perspective: Boston is known to be a slow, hilly course, last year Cheruiyot won in 2:05:52 breaking the previous course record by a minute and a half — Hall’s dismay is completely understandable.
This year, nobody saw it coming: the winner, Geoffrey Mutai, won in an astonishing 2:03:02, and the second, Moses Mosop, was just 4 seconds behind. Ryan Hall came fourth in 2:04:58 (American record, by the way) preceded by 5 seconds by Gebremarian. The first four runners were all under Cheruiyot’s course record by a minute, but more amazingly is that both Mutai and Mosop finished almost a minute faster than Gebrselassie’s world record of 2:03:59 set in Berlin two years ago.
The question is obvious and so is the interest of national newspapers: is 2:03:02 the new marathon world record? Despite the extraordinary performance of Mutai (and, honestly, of Mosop too), his time cannot be ratified by the IAAF since the course has a net elevation loss, approximately 450ft or 150m between Hopkinton and Boston. (The competition rules are available on the IAAF website [pdf].)
Forums will be resonating with the diatribe of world’s best vs world’s record for months to come. For all it’s worth, this year race was truly awe-inspiring (especially for me stuck at home with a stubborn Achilles tendinitis).
[update] The Science of Sport wrote a piece about yesterday’s world record that wasn’t: theirs is a thorough, scientifically and historically accurate analysis of Boston 2011 — the math and the physics look sound to me.
[ps] ovviamente sulla stampa italiana non c’è nemmeno un accenno, solo la solita, banale tiritera sul calcio.