Posted by: Joe English | February 1, 2008

Marathon News: January 2008 in review

It’s hard to believe that January 2008 is already in the books. It seems like we were just toasting the New Year and here we are about to be celebrating Valentine’s Day.

While many of you might have been taking a short break for the Winter, as January comes to a close we realize that the new season is right around the corner and it is time to start making our training and racing goals. But for January — usually a quiet month — it was a pretty busy month for marathoning.

Here are some items of interest that you may have missed:
Gebrselassie misses world mark in Dubai – Yes, it’s true that Haile didn’t hit a new world record in the Dubai Marathon, but he did run the second fastest time in history. That means that he now owns the two quickest times ever in the marathon. His run in Dubai suffered from some tactical errors, in particular the scorching early pace. Haile and his pacers went through the half-marathon mark about a minute ahead of his own world record pace set back in September in Berlin. He is normally known for closing with a faster second-half, so this pace was simply suicide. He did fade in the last half, but managed to keep it close. His 2:04:53 still managed to come in ahead of Paul Tergat’s old world mark of 2:04:55. Not bad.

Haile in Dubai
Haile in Dubai

Spirit of the Marathon Debuts – finally a documenatary about marathon running that really hits the mark. Runners that saw the movie in its debut on January 24th are saying that the movie is simply excellent. The documentary will play again in an encore screening around the country on February 21st. It will then come out later this year on DVD.

Spirit of the Marathon

Spreading violence in Kenya – The violence and turmoil in Kenya began to have an impact on marathon running as many of the world’s top marathon runners were prevented from travel or even training. Rogers Ropp, who paced Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin last September was absent in Dubai and unconfirmed reports suggest that the trouble at home kept him from traveling. At the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona, none of the Kenyan athletes on the bill were able to travel to the race. We’ve even heard that 2007 World Champion Luke Kibet was attacked and hit by rock, suffering a serious head injury. This important story is just starting to unfold and we’ll have to see what the impact is this year on elite marathon running. For a fantastic exposition on the impact on running, read more here.

Lance goes to Boston – It may sound like a children’s book, but the annoucement this month that Lance Armstrong will run the Boston Marathon may mean that running is more than a passing interest for the grand champion of cycling. His 2:46:43 at New York last November in his second marathon means that he’s. . . well, pretty darn fast. I still would love to see Lance make an attempt at an Ironman. He can swim, he’s scary on the bike, and he’s got some legs. That would be cool to see.

Lance Armstrong
Lance in New York

PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona: women’s race for the trials – At the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon, organizers made a real effort to bring out the ladies for a last chance to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon trials. They offered prize money for any American woman that ran a qualifying time. 32 women showed up for the race intent on qualifying. We followed the group in the press truck and it was amazing to see that many women working together at that kind of pace (2:47:00). In the end seven made the qualifying standard. It was an amazing sight to behold. For more images from PF Chang’s click here.

Sally Meyerhoff at the finish
Sally Meyeroff at PF Chang’s

So we’re off to a great start and there’s lots to come this year. The Women’s Olympic Trials in April and the Olympics in Beijing should be of particular interest. We’ll be right here to cover it all for you.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News



  1. Lance made a sizable improvement on his time on his second NYC marathon. Does any one know how typical such an improvement is for a sub-3 runner? Any predictions about what his finish time will be at Boston?

  2. Those are really interesting questions Ken.

    First, it would be hard to say what a typical sub-3:00 marathon would show for improvement. It really depends if the person is improving or has plateaued. If they’ve been racing awhile, then the gains might be slight (in the range of seconds to a few minutes). With new runners, it is not unusual to see improvements in the range of 30 seconds to 1 minute per mile or more in their second marathon – as their training comes together and they begin to build a more substantial base.

    In Lance’s case, we see something more typical of a new marathon runner in race #2 – he had a big improvement the second time out. His pace increased by about 30 seconds per mile. This most likely came from better training and the experience and base coming from the first race.

    We do know something else about Lance’s first race: he said that his longest run was something on the order of 15 miles prior to that first race. This means that he didn’t have a great training base going into that first one. The second race was probably more indicative his true capability.

    What will happen at Boston? A lot of that depends on Lance and his training. If he gets good, high quality, training then maybe well see something on the same order as New York. The course in Boston is quite tough, but everything really depends on what type of training he does to prepare. Boston’s course is not so tough that it would throw the typical marathon runner’s time way out of whack, especially if the runner does an adequate amount of hill training to prepare for the up and down nature of the course.

    I’d love to predict his time for you, but there are so many variables that come into play – from the weather to his training program and goals – that it would be hard to make such a prediction. In any case, we’ll all find out next April on race day.

    Thanks for the great questions!

    Coach Joe

  3. Thanks. I didn’t know about his longest run prior to the first NYC marathon. I guess he did some serious traning last year. Looking forward to April.

  4. I love the January recap~I can’t wait to see the documentary!

    Thanks Coach!

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