The excitement of the trails was all too much last week and I neglected the tarmac side of things, but it’s ok. We’re back.
Fail-back to trails or a new frontier?
Whilst I was napping at the back of the room, Houston Marathon happened, at which World Championship silver medallist and two-time Boston third-place finisher Kara Goucher made her first attempt back at 26.2 after running the 2016 Marathon Trials and coming 4th place to Shalane Flanagan (see here), and that was having come back from a tear to her hamstring. Sadly, that same injury was the reason she had to pull out at 31k. Her post race interview is pretty heartbreaking and it’s no wonder that she says she’s ready to take her running in a different direction, the implication being that she’s looking to the trails.
This got me thinking - how do trail specialists feel when they hear road runners who feel that they have reached their limit on the roads are planning to move onto the trails or ultras? For some road athletes it feels like they think of trails as something to fall-back on if they can’t hit the pace on the roads any more and yet for others they seem genuinely excited. I suppose in some ways it’s no different to track athletes moving up to the marathon. Some runners will start as marathoners and always be that and others will hit their peak and track and then move up to the marathon. I suppose it probably says the most about me that I sometimes feel like track athletes are saying that they only runlong when they get slow and would really rather be running the short sharp stuff. I certainly know that I love the trails when I run them but I tend to use them to recharge my running batteries because I know I’m not strong enough to run them hard.
Houston not a problem
Elsewhere in the race, Houston proved to be a rather happy affair. Welsh athlete and recently announced London Marathon Elite starter Natasha Cockram placed 11th in 2:34:18 bagging herself a tasty 1:29 PB which should give her a great boost ahead of her local race in April as she bids to get a GB place at the Marathon Championships in Doha. Top American was local Texas lady, Kelsey Bruce who was back with a 2:31 after a shocker in New York last year. Malindi Elmore and Sasha Gollish of Canada both ran their first ever marathons (well, Gollish had to pull out in Berlin) and did rather nicely thankyou, with 7th and 8th place respectively. As Lauren Fleshman and many other pointed out, it’s easy to skip over those names but that’s big news
Biruktayit Degefa of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2:23:28 for the third time, having run it every year since 2014
Cross country wins in the UK and down under
Charlotte Purdue, who was also recently announced as another of the British women announced tas part of the London Marathon Elite field a great start, beat the aussies at the Athletics Australia World Cross trial event this weekend.
On home turf, it was the South, North and Midland Cross Country Championships with Pippa Woolven, Mhairi Maclennan and Kate Holt winning the Senior Ladies races. Having run the Southern edition of the race, I can bow down in awe at Pippa’s speed. The Athletics Weekly article says rather sniffily that the course seems to have been slightly short but with the mud and the hills (and it wasn’t even that muddy this year) it’s certainly no easy ride.
Québécoise runner Melanie Myrand was first over the very windy line at the Fitbit Miami half marathon in 1:19:12 which she was amusingly not impressed by, saying “Not a time that blew my socks off but definitely enough wind to blow my hat off in the first mile.” I know it’s a long way off her 1:15 PB but I quite like the fact that she exhibits so openly the ever-present runner’s mindset of ‘but it wasn’t that great - maybe I could have done better’.
In the full marathon, one of my much-Insta-watched athletes, Kate Landau came out top.
She also says ‘wonder what I could have done in better conditions’ but being nearly 8 minutes ahead of 2nd place that’s some pretty hard work she’s put in. She could easily have eased off even more (splits here) and let it come in closer than that.
Dubai is as fast as… a fast thing
And last but certainly not least, Dubai marathon was hitting records all over the place. The third fastest marathon time ever (behind Paula and Mary K) was run by someone you’ve probably never heard of in only her thirs marathon.
As many have noted, this marathon has no appearance fees but BIG prize money, and that’s after it cut its prize money in half to be $100,000 this year (as reported over at LetsRun.com). London pays out $55k. As a results of the $$ on offer the race attracts often unknown Ethiopian athletes and encourages an attacking style of racing. Mario Fraioli comments over at The Morning Shakeout (29th Feb issue) that perhaps it’s because these athletes have been training harder over Christmas than the rest of the world a their Christmas break is later. So, who was the women’s winner?
Runner’s world reports that
“perhaps the most exciting finish of the day came from Kenyan runner Ruth Chepngetich. The 24-year-old crushed the course record by more than two minutes and also became the third fastest female marathoner in history, clocking in at 2:17:08”. The men also set a new course record.”
That’s the third fastest
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 2:17:08
2 Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 2:17:41
3 Worknesh Edesa (ETH) 2:21:05
4 Waganesh Mekasha (ETH) 2:22:45
5 Sintayehu Lewetegn (ETH) 2:25:59
6 Rahma Tusa (ETH) 2:26:38
7 Muluhabt Tsega (ETH) 2:27:36
8 Sule Utura (ETH) 2:32:52
And in other news…
Expect to hear more about a young 19 year old track athlete called Sydney McLaughlin. In the US her name is all over the place but now that she’s gone pro she’s likely to get all sorts of publicity worldwide.
and next weekend it’s the…
Access Bank Lagos City MarathonIAAF Bronze Label Road Races Lagos
Kagawa Marugame International Half MarathonIAAF Silver Label Road Race, Japan