Posted by: Joe English | February 18, 2008

Racing: USA bests Kenya at Austin Marathon

There’s a headline that you don’t see everyday.

With runners finishing first and second, Team USA beat Kenya in the team competition at the Austin Marathon yesterday.

Jacob Frey and Mike Sayenko outsprinted Kenya’s Joseph Mutinda in the final 600 meters to place first and second in 2:20:38 and 2:20:42. On the women’s side, Patti Rogers and Wendy Terris finished fifth and seventh.

Jacob Frey wins at Austin
Photo: Frey wins at Austin by Ralph Barrera American-Statesman

Kenyan Wesley Ochoro led the race through the half-way mark and it was Mutinda who was in control in the later half. But the two American runners worked together for the strategic victory, surging ahead in the final half mile.

Just a month ago we wondered what the impact of Kenya’s troubles would have on elite running — and not knocking the performances of Frey or Sayenko at all — we’re starting to see a bit of a pattern this year. American’s take the top two spots at the Austin Marathon. Paul Tergat decides to forego the London Marathon in April, and a New Zealander wins at the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon. It’s only mid-February folks.

Back to Austin; the Austin American Statesman has a great write-up of the play-by-play in the AT&T Austin Marathon. You can also find a photo gallery and a link to race results there.

Professional Triathlete, Austin Native and friend of Running Advice and News, Desiree Ficker won the half-marathon in 1:18:17.

Desiree Ficker at Austin
Photo: Desiree Ficker wins Austin Half-Marathon

Frey may have hit the nail on the head with the best quote in recent memory about marathon running, when he told the American Statesman:

“I think what makes a good marathoner is being about three miles into the race and knowing exactly how you’re going to feel at 24 miles. The marathon’s really about not falling apart — being the last man standing.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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



  1. The weather was excellent for the marathon last Sunday, at least for those who finished before 10:00am. The temperature ranged from 40F to 60F during that time with clear skies.

    I wonder if Kenyans are better trained for the warmer weather?

  2. That’s an interesting observation Ken.

    Some of the Kenyan runners may be better trained for warmer weather, depending upon where they do the bulk of their training. But keep in mind that many of the elite runners train in other places — including here in the United States.

    Most runners have the best success in lower temperatures – including the Kenyans. If you look at at Boston last year (2007) for example, seven of the top ten runners were from Kenya and the weather there was at record lows. In Chicago in 2006, I recall some of the Kenyan runners saying that they had “never seen snow before” (it was snowing lightly), but they still did fine.

    In any case, it is good to hear that you had excellent weather out there for the race.

    Coach Joe

  3. Chicago 2006 vs. Chicago 2007 is a good comparison for temperature. My coworker ran the 2007 one and experienced the problems the race had due to the heat (they forced runners to walk at around 11:00am). I see the temp at 8:00am that day was 72F with 78% humidity. But like you said in 2006, it was cold. In 2006, 7 of the top 10 finishers were Kenyans. In 2007, there were only 5. So perhaps they’re no better in dealing with the heat than anyone else.

  4. I think that’s very possible.

    Heat acclimitization depends most on where the athlete does their training.

    For example, we see a lot of the Ironman hopefuls head to Arizona in the summer to help get ready for the heat in Hawaii.

    Thanks for the good data point above.


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