Thursday, April 21, 2011

Renato Canova on Boston

I'm now in Kenya, just arrived from Boston. I read a lot of comments about the influence of the wind, and frankly I find the nost part of these without any fundation.

At first, we go to see the difference between the times of the best men and women and their PB, with some comment for everybody.


1) Geoffrey Mutai 2:03:02 2:04:55 - 1:53
2) Moses Mosop 2:03:06 Debut
3) Gebre Gebremariam 2:04:53 2:08:14 - 3:21
4) Ryan Hall 2:04:58 2:06:14 - 1:16
5) Abraham Cherkos 2:06:13 2:07:29 - 1:16
6) Robert Cheruiyot 2:06:43 2:05:52 + 0:51
7) Philip Sanga 2:07:10 2:07:11 - 0:01
8) Chimsa 2:07:37 2:07:54 - 0:17
9) Daba 2:08:03 2:07:04 + 0:59
10) Robert Kipchumba 2:08:44 2:08:07 + 0.37
11) Peter Kamais 2:09:50 2:14:58 - 5:08
12) Cardona 2:12:17
13) Gilbert Yegon 2:13:00 2:06:18 + 6:42
14) Migidio Boirifa 2:13:45 2:09:07 + 4:38
15) Abe 2:15:48 2:13:46 + 2:02

Without calculating Mosop and Cardona (of course PB being their first marathon), we have a total time of + 15:49 for the athletes not running their PB (6 in top 15) and a total time of - 13:12 for the athletes running their PB (7 in top 15), with a balance of + 2:37 SLOWER THAN THEIR PB considering the top 15 (157.0 : 13 = 12.0 of average SLOWER THAN THE PB OF THE ATHLETES.

Of course, this mathematic calculation is ridicolous.

Infact, if we speak technically, we must cancel (because don't have any real signification) the performances of the following athletes :

PETER KAMAIS (PB of 5:08) because Boston was his second marathon, the first was NY last year, when he finished jogging after trying to stay with the leaders for 35 km. So, the PB of last year was not his real value. The expecation of his coach Claudio Berardelli was of 2:07 / 2:08 for Boston. At the end, PB slower than the expectation.

GILBERT YEGON (worse than his PB of 6:42). He tried to stay with the leaders, but his shape was not the best, and at the end he paid. His value could be about 2:08 with an even race, but in his current shape was penalized by the pace of yje race.

MIGIDIO BOURIFA - His PB is of long time ago. His current value, in any case, is about 2:12. So, he ran slower than the expecrarion, but not too much.

If we cancel the above athletes, we have a final balance of - 3:35 cumulative for 10 athletes, that means a difference with their PB of 21" each one (and I don't want to cancel Gebremariam, but of course his PB in NY last year was not his real value, being the first marathon and a difficult course).


1) Carolyne Kilel 2:22:36 2:23:25 - 0:49
2) Desirèe Davila 2:22:38 2:26:20 - 3:42
3) Sharon Cherop 2:22:42 2:22:43 - 0:01
4) Caroline Rotich 2:24:26
5) Kara Goucher 2:24:52 2:25:53 - 1:01
6) Dire Tune 2:25:08 2:22:44 + 2:24
7) Workenesh Kidane 2:26:15 2:27:15 - 1:00
8) Caballero 2:26:17
9) Alice Timbilili 2:26:34 2:25:03 + 1:31
10) Ruban 2:27:00 2:27:44 - 0:44
11) Tsegaye Tirfi 2:27:29 2:22:44 + 4:45
12) Girma 2:28:48 2:27:51 + 0:57
13) Mugo 2:29:06 2:27:16 + 1:50
14) Skvortsova 2:29:14 2:26:24 + 2:50
15) Pushkaryeva 2:29:20 2:26:14 + 3:06

This means, for the 13 athletes already with a PB in Marathon, totals of + 17:23 slower than their PB, and of 7:17 faster, with a final balance of + 10:06 distributed between 13 athletes : that's mean the average of the top 15 was 46.6 SLOWER THAN THEIR PB.

I spoke with the most part of the athletes, after the racem and EVERYBODY told me the wind was not very strong, not always id direction of the race, and the most part of time not significative (some time also against).

The numbers I wrote before seem to confirm their theory.

The PB (excluding the debutants) among the top 15 men were 6, while other 7 didn't improve. Inside the women race, the PB were 6, against 7 that didn't improve (same like men).

Of course, the direction and the strength of the wind was measured at the start, and during the race there were a lot of variations. Also, the real component in direction of the race was between 20 and 40% of the strength of the wind, and in many cases (when the athletes were in the middle of buildings) the wind didn't arrive to the runners, because, coming from one side, the buildings created a barrier for the wind itself.

So,every LINEAR calculation is a pure and, excuse me, very stupid speculation, because there is no a CONSTANT that is at the base of any physical analysis.

Of course we can find some small advantage, but to speak about 3-4 minutes is simply crazy, and has nothing to do with the reality.

I have the idea that US people were shocked by the performances of Ryan and of Desirèe, losing the contact with the reality. Of course, if in the mind of American runners you continue to look at 2:28 for a woman and 2:10 for a man like unbelievable performances (for the most part of people not possible without doping... how stupid and sad behavior !), you don't believe possible, for your runners, to have times of 2:05 and 2:22 without a lot of external aid.

But I can tell you something. I knew Mosop was in a shape of 2:04, as Geoffrey, from what they were able to do. Of course, I didn't know what Ryan Hall could be able to do, and his 63:55 in NY HM didn't authorize anybody in thinking he could be in his best shape.

Now I say my explanation for what happened.

1) In a course without rabbits, nobody supposed that one athlete (Ryan) could go from the start at so fast pace, without any mental inhibition. Ryan was wonderful as personality and as interpretation of the race, knowing his only chance is in a very fast but even pace. Of course, he didn't know the potentiality of Geoffrey and Moses, and he tried his best. Without him,probably the race could be a normal competition, with a final time about 2:05.

2) Geoffrey and Moses never looked at the watch, so were not afarid about the speed because they didn't want to know it. Honestly, we feared Gebremariam, and the tactic, involving Geoffrey, Moses and Robert Cheruiyot, was in any case to push very hard immediately after 30 km.

3) Without any mental conditioning, Geoffrey hammered in incredible way, running 28:24 between 30k and 40k. But wonderful was Moses, having a max gap of 8.0, never thinking to look for maintaining the second position only, but always concentrated on Geoffrey. His ability to stay in the race, in his first marathon, closing the gap after being 50m behind, was something really unbelievable (14:07 between 35 and 40k). And they were still able to finish last 2195m in 6:14 Geoffrey (exactly 2:50 per km) and 6:18 Moses (2:51.7).

4) They average was 2:55 per km, and this is possible only for athletes able running at the moment 10k under 27:00.

The reality is that Marathon is changing, with this type of athletes. Till 5 years ago, few athletes able running about 27:00 moved to marathon, and only when old, and no more to run faster than 27:30. The same Tergat (WR holder of 10000m in 26'27") moved to marathon when no more able to run faster than 27:10.

Instead, athletes like Geoffrey and Moses move to marathon WHEN ARE ABLE TO RUN 26:45. This fact provokes different effects :

a) These athletes are younger (so more fresh in their mind and their body) and faster than before

b) Their training changed. I use very high intensity for extensive workouts (for example, Moses ran 40k 3 weeks before Boston in 2:07:15, on rough road, start and finish in the same place, and heavy training shoes), and of course I need to give more days of recovery between one specific wokouts and the next one. In this case, Moses had the next training on track (10 x 1600m with 2' recovery in 4'35" / 4'32" with the last in 4'17") exactly 6 days after his 40k.

c) Their level of intensity NEVER goes under 85%. This is a big difference, because in Kenya and Ethiopia the post-race behavior is to relax without doing any alternative training for rebuilding speed and muscle strength, so everytime the athletes prepare a new marathon they start again from a low level. Instead, Geoffrey using competitions, Moses using training, both of them maintain a high quality also short time after the marathon. We saw this last year with Geoffrey and Wilson Kiprop, this year with Mary Keitany.

d) Physiologically speaking, this type of athletes are able running a HM near 6 mml of lactate, and their marathon is near 4 mml. In other words, if till 5 years ago the best marathon runners were DIESEL ENGINES, now are TURBO DIESEL (whar already happened with Paula Radcliffe).

So, I really think that we don't have to wait too long time for looking at the first 2:02, also if it's difficult to have all the components favourable like in Boston this year.

At least, everything has a logic explanation, and to do wrong analysis for justifying something out of the normality is an exercise that has the only effect to create limits in the mind of the athletes, and excuses for their poor performances.

Read comments on message board here