Shalane Flanagan

TCS New York Marathon - Women's Running Roundup special

After all my hype about Mary Keitany being the fastest, but a bit of a gung-ho-hero and therefore not a predictable runner to back, of course she only went and ran a carefully measured race. Well, I suppose after a 2nd and NY last year and a bit of a blow-up at London she decided it was time to play it safe and bag a win and not only that but a 4th win at NY and a win in the second fastest time for that course.

After a steady early effort which took Keitany, Cheruiyot, Flanagan, Huddle, Tusa, Linden, Weightman & Daska all through half way within 1:15:49-53 Mary Keitany wound up the pace at 20-25k with her 17-19th miles all run at under 5'00/mile and the second half in 1:06:58 which is 27s faster than Molly Huddle's american record for the half marathon. Only Rahma Tusa really worked hard to stay with Keitany, but trying to do so led to a late fade that both Cheruiyot and Flanagan picked up on one after the other to finish in 2:26:02 and 2:26:22 respectively. A crazy-mad 8:52 negative split from shows just how much within herself Keitany must have been in those early stages. @jgault13 made an interesting point on twitter about the speed of her 10k from 25-35k of the race compared to Linden, Huddle and Flanagan.

Whilst I'm a bit sad that Flanagan couldn't retain the title it's worth noting that her 3rd place was 30s faster than her winning time last year and on balance I think a race is more interesting than a time trial (albeit that the women's race wasn't quite such and exciting finish as the men's).

Anyway - enough about the obvious stuff - you can read all about that everywhere else (RunnersWorld/ LetsRun / Fast Running). Let's work through the fun stuff lower down the list with help from my geeky spreadsheet of joy. The podium followed the pre-race ranking order but Molly Huddle had a stormer of a race, being the only one in the top 5 to run a PB and finish 4th (ranked 8th going in).

So, three Americans finished in the top six of the Women’s division for the first time since 1978: 3rd Shalane Flanagan (2:26:22) 4th Molly Huddle (2:26:44) 6th. Des Linden (2:27:51). But Des, Oh Des, I wanted you to win so bad. I'll be interested to see what she has to say about the race in the next week or so. That end-of-race speed training she's been working at paid off to some extent with her running a 3:51 negative split but not enough to chase down Tusa. So who else managed to get a PB? Well, 8 of the top 25 did do with the biggest ones being for Belaynesh Fikadu, ETH (8:14) Eva aka Caroline Almkvist SWE (8:01 PB) and Sarah Sellers, USA (7:27 PB and, hurrah!, just inside the 'A' standard qualifying time for the Olympic Trials in 2020 with 2:36:37). Sarah Sellers has already been through the 'whoooooooo?!' phase after her breakout 2nd place in Boston but it's 23 year old Almkvist who's the surprise unknown in the NYC results. She came 3rd in the Stockholm marathon earlier this year and like Sarah is not a professional runner and did not have an elite start.

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Allie Kiefer was another one to live up to her pre-race hype with a solid 7th place and a PB to boot. I particularly love that she says 'in hindsight I could have run smarter... my goal was to reach the podium...', firstly because she's just like the rest of us who always think we could have run better after the race and are filled with what-if's(just ask my coach!) and secondly because she doesn't skate over her pre-race goal of a podium place - she acknowledges that is didn't happen.

Lisa Weightman is pretty happy with an 8th place for Australia, commenting that while training she was also working 4 days a week, looking after the family and building a house. And for the Ultra-lovers out there it's exciting to see that Gerda Steyn of Two Oceans & Comrades fame is easily able to play with the big Girls in the 26.2 as well, finishing in 13th with a 6min PB.

Rank by PRRank in NYNew York 2018NameAgeCountryMarathon PRPlus or Minus PB1st half2nd halfPositive / negative split
112:22:48Mary Keitany36KEN2:17:010:05:271:15:501:06:58-0:08:52
222:26:02Vivian Cheruiyot35KEN2:18:310:07:311:15:501:10:12-0:05:38
332:26:22Shalane Flanagan37USA2:21:140:05:081:15:491:10:33-0:05:16
842:26:44Molly Huddle34USA2:28:13-0:01:291:15:501:10:54-0:04:56
652:27:13Rahma Tusa25ETH2:23:460:03:271:15:491:11:24-0:04:25
562:27:51Des Linden35USA2:22:380:05:131:15:511:12:00-0:03:51
1372:28:12Allie Kieffer31USA2:29:39-0:01:271:16:341:11:38-0:04:56
782:29:11Lisa Weightman39AUS2:25:150:03:561:15:531:13:18-0:02:35
492:30:31Mamitu Daska35ETH2:21:590:08:321:15:511:14:40-0:01:11
25102:30:47Belaynesh Fikadu30ETH2:39:01-0:08:141:16:351:14:12-0:02:23

I could go on forever poring over these stats and the happy or gritted-teeth insta posts from the after-event runners but it's time to wind this up and put away the Marathon Majors until 2019

The result leaves the leaderboard for the Abbot World Marathon Majors Series XII after Berlin '18, Chicago '18 and New York '18 as follows:

1. Brigid Kosgei KEN 25

2. Gladys Cherono KEN 25

3. Mary Keitany KEN 25

4. Rolza Dereje ETH 16

5. Ruti Aga ETH 16

6. Vivian Cheruiyot KEN 16

7. Shalane Flanagan USA 9

8. Shure Demise ETH 9

9. Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 9

Tokyo, Boston, London and Berlin 2019 are still to come.

Also of interest is the fact that by running under 2:23, Keitany was awarded $45,000 on top of her $100,000 for first place.



If there’s a tie at the end of a Series, the winner is determined using the following rules (addressed in descending order):

The athlete with the best head­-to-head record in Qualifying Races during the Series will be declared the winner. Only the fact that one athlete finished ahead of the other will be taken into account and not by how many places nor whether those athletes scored points in that head-to-head contest.

The athlete who has won the most Qualifying Races during the period.

The athlete who the majority of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors Race Directors determines to be the champion. The Race Directors may decide to award the title jointly.

TCS New York Marathon Preview

Righto, it’s the TCS York City Marathon 2018 right around the corner which means it’s time for me to have a mooch around the internet, read and listen to other people’s roundups and come up with my own little bundle of wonderings on the subject of the Womens’ Elite Field.

Firstly, here’s the offical bits and bobs:

you can find the full ‘spreadsheet of joy’ here which has all the PBs and lots of social media handles as provided by the NRR. full media guide here and info on celebrity runners here

The race starts at 9.20ET which is 13.20GMT and there’s a list of how to watch in your location HERE


But who am I backing? Have a read of this lot..

Mary Keitany, KEN (36)

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Much is said about how New York Marathon is not about who is fastest on paper. It's a much more tactical course. That could feel like it takes away from Shalane's win last year over Mary Keitany who is considerably faster than her, but I would say that kind of win is a tougher job to do. You can't just dial it in and trust the training when a race is tactical - you're racing with your mind as much as your legs. That said, Keitany is hardly one to play it safe and run an even pace, as we saw in London earlier this year when she went out at a blistering pace despite the warm conditions. She committed early on to chasing Paula Radcliffe's mixed-field world record (she already bagged the women-only one in 2017) and it backfired but I love her gutsy style. She seems to be a go-hard-or-go-home athlete. Sometimes that blows up in your face but on the occasions the it does, well, you bag a world record. Mary has previously won NY in 2016 as well as coming 2nd in 2014 and 2017, is married to runner Charles Koech and has two kids aged 10 and 5.

Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN (35)

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Cheruiyot was the tortoise that caught the hare this year at London Marathon, where she bided her time and took advantage of Keitany's gutsy but foolhardy pace in the early stages to come away with the win in a PB of 2:18:31. That has to put her in contention for the most logical winner - she has recent for AND a solid history of racing as well. It'd be tough to call anyone over her in a more straight forward race or if there weren't a world record holding crazy lady in the field..

Mamitu Daska, ETH (35)

Two time silver medalist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and winner of the Dubai and Houston Marathon I suspect she'll be looking to nudge closer to the 2:20 mark and shave a good two minutes off her PB. So far this year she's only officially race a 10k and 12k race and not to a PB either so I don't think she'll trouble things much. Perhaps a tactical or windy race could play to her favour?

Rahma Tusa, ETH

Tusa set her PB of 2:23:46 in Rome earlier this year, winning there for the third year in a row. At 25 she's one of the youngsters of the elite field and has shaved several minutes off her time every year for the last 4 years, so you can expect her to be looking for a 2:20 mark as well.

Lisa Wightman, AUS (39)

Weightman has represented her country 3 times at the olympics and will be looking to head to Tokyo in 2020. She set her PB last year at London marathon and ran in the commonwealth games on the gold coast earlier this year where she came second.

The Americans : Shalane (37), Des (35), Molly (34), Steph, Allie (31) to name just a few

For those of us who love the sport, the fact that the top five women can be identified just by their first names shows just how strong the US marathoning is at the moment.

So, Shalane: yes her fastest marathon was back in 2014 and she's only run *that* Boston this year in 2:46:31 (though at least she made it to the end) but she showed last year that age gives you a mental strength that can help as much as the training sometimes. With the launch of her latest cookbook earlier this year (it's very good - Run fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow) there's a chance that life and other distractions could knock that rock solid mind-set but it seems like she thrives of this kind of stuff. Argh, I dunno - with nothing to go on really I feel like I wouldn't 100% back her to win but then perhaps that's an advantage as the other runners won't know where she's at?

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Talking of rock-sold mental games, there's Des Linden. Like Shalane she’s got her side hustle too, co-owning Linden + True coffee.  It feels a little, ungenerous I guess, that all of the previews I've seen have pretty much written Des off a podium spot for this race in a shrug of 'well she won Boston because she's a grinder and she was able to grind out a win in those horrible conditions'. Yes, her motto of 'keep showing pup' points us to that kind of comment and yes the conditions played to her strengths but that ignores her galling 2" second place finish previously and they fact that she's gutsy enough to (amicably) leave her previous coaching setup straight after finally winning a World Major. In recent interviews she has talked about her new coach (Walt Drench who coached her for three years at Arizona State) is making some changes. She admitted that whilst she may be an excellent human metronome, able to churn out enviably equal splits, that won't help her when those with a different racing style make surges towards the end or just generally play with the pace. So, Linden has been hitting the track and running reps as short at 300s to get that turnover going and to find the speed to respond. And she sounds supremely confident in every interview I've heard her in. I can't wait to see what metronome + speed equals in Linden-land.

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And so we move onto Molly, poor molly who was a bit of a sorry mess at the end of Boston. At 34 she's a little younger than Flanagan and has a strong history in shorter distances as she is the American record-holder in the half-marathon, 5K and 10,000m, made both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. I know she's been bigged up as untapped potential for the marathon but my less logical head thinks that Allie Kieffer could finish ahead of her just from the fact that she'll be flying high from last year's break out 5th place performance and, after a stress fracture at the start of the year,  a really solid buildup this autumn including winning the Toronto Waterfront Half marathon as part of a workout. I'll be honest, Steph Bruce (another one in the food and drink game - co-owning Picky Bars) is the one of the top 5 Americans that I know least about. With a PB of 2:29:35 set back in 2011 I wasn't expect to think much about her but in August Flo track reported  that Steph was having her best year ever as she won the Peach Tree 10k, gaining her first national title so maybe she's the one whose shorter-race speed will convert into a gutsy performance, albeit not likely to be podium/ top American. Apologies that I don't have time to cover the rest of the American field, though of course it's worth mentioning Sarah Sellers (27) aka 'the one who no on knew who she was' at Boston this year where she came second without even realising! Sarah is looking to get an Olympic Trials ‘A’ qualifying time of 2:37:00.

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I thought Camille Herron of ultra running fame was due to run as well but she appears to have dropped off the start list. However, I'll give a quick nod to Two Oceans champion and 2nd place Comrades finisher Gerda Steyn. Given that comrades is a road ultra it's the closest thing to a marathon in that over-distance world and Gerda is having one heck of a year!

And there we have it. It’s clear who I’m backing to win, isn’t it? No? Oh ok then. Well, my head say Keitany - she’s just so flipping fast that if everything goes ok no one can catch her but my heart…. oh my heart wants it to be Des. I know she always says she’s the under dog and we brits love an underdog but I just think that if this speed work she’s be adding in since Boston has paid off then maybe that PLUS her dogged-stickability… just maybe? GO DES!!! (Actually it’s probably going to be steady-eddy Cheruiyot who will just do her thing and get it done and fast… yeah I’m totally hedging my bets.

See you on the other side!