Thursday, November 11, 2010

NYRR Are Committed to Course, but Others Think About Changes

As the winners of Sunday's ING New York City Marathon burst across the finish line, their winning times made one fact abundantly clear: In a city known for its swift pace, its marathon route is notoriously slow.

Though the men's winner, Gebre Gebremariam posted the sixth-fastest time in course history at two hours, eight minutes and 14 seconds, his victory was still almost two minutes slower than Sammy Wanjiru's winning time at this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon: 2:06:24. The difference on the women's side was even more pronounced: Edna Kiplagat's victory in 2:28:20 was more than eight minutes behind Liliya Shobukhova's 2:20:25 win.

The challenging topography and slower times run on New York's course has prompted some of the world's greatest runners to bypass the city in favor of other faster races, and has led others to call for changes to the course itself.

merican Olympic medalist and U.S. women's marathon record-holder Deena Kastor spent her peak running years concentrating on faster times in Chicago and London. "It was a choice not to do New York and try to go somewhere and run fast," said the 37-year-old Ms. Kastor, who planned to race in New York this year but withdrew when she learned she was pregnant.

New York's comparative plodding pace provides a recruiting advantage for other marathons like Chicago, where this year spectators witnessed Mr. Wanjiru win the men's World Marathon Majors championship in a thrilling final sprint against Tsegaye Tebede, and Ms. Shobukhova set the Russian's women's record as she seized the women's title.

"You can see a point at an athlete's career where it just makes sense to bring them to our event," said Chicago's race director, Carey Pinkowski. "Tsegaye and Sammy wanted to run fast and they wanted to meet each other, so I think all those factors complemented their decisions to come here.''