Kenyan Marathon Mastery

• I’m disappointed I didn’t get the call to help pace Kipchoge in Austria Friday. I could easily maintain 13.1 miles per hour. . . on a mountain bike.

• I’ve always said I’ll never see a sub 2 hour marathon. Now I have to acknowledge I may. Among other miscalculations, I didn’t account for the technological improvement in shoes.

• Kipchoge is a high character guy who may be on nothing more than oatmeal, his pre-race breakfast. On the other hand, Kosgei’s drastic improvement, coupled with the litany of suspended female Kenyan long distances runners, makes me highly suspicious of her performance in Chicago Sunday.  Lots of people assumed Radcliffe, the previous world record holder, was running dirty too.

• Many East African runners grow up poor with limited education making them vulnerable to exploitation by family, friends, national coaches, and managers. The sad underreported story of East African running success is one of sudden unimaginable wealth being squandered in short order. For the sake of his family, I hope Kipchoge can break the cycle of successful Kenyan marathoners mismanaging their money.

Sentence to Ponder

Monday’s London Marathon.

“Kipchoge used a 4:26 25th mile to break free of Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew, the 2018 Dubai champ, and Mule Wasihun, last year’s Amsterdam runner-up in 2:04:37, and went on to win his 10th straight major marathon in 2:02:37, lowering his 2016 course record by 28 seconds and running the #2 time in history in the process.”

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Points to Ponder

• From Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis-Finding Modern Truth in Ancient WisdomPleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.

• From The Atlantic: Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years. In one survey, the mean size of networks of personal confidants decreased from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Similarly, in 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant. [strong counter argument]

• From Sports IllustratedIt’s hard to come up with any measure sufficient to characterize the strength of the Kenyan marathon army, but try this: Sixteen American men in history have run faster than 2:10 (a 4:58 per mile pace); 38 Kenyan men did it in October.

Grit follow up. In Monday’s Boston Marathon, the dude on the far left, Michel Butter, from the Nederlands, was hangin with the Kenyans. Pre-race, the Dutch track federation told him if he finished in the top ten they’d put him on the Olympic team. He finished seventh because of training sessions like this one.

Correction from the exceptional The Science of Sport blog: Michel Butter’s requirement was either to run 2:10, or finish in the top 8 with a 2:12 or faster. He ran 2:16:38 for 7th. So he got the place, but missed the time, and hence the Olympic spot. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, because as I mentioned earlier, the elite men were 7.8% slower than last year’s times, and about 5% slower than their typical race times. Butter missed the target time by 5.1% (the 2:12 standard). Bearing this mind, and that Boston is typically a slower course than the flat races of Rotterdam, London, Berlin etc, I would use discretion and pick him anyway…