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May/June 2012 - Level Renner

May/June 2012 - Level Renner

Featured Event The

Featured Event The 2012 Boston Marathon Article and Photographs by Joe Navas / Organic Photography “Heat of blood makes young people change their inclinations often, and habit makes old ones keep to theirs a great while.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld T he predawn July air greeted the early riser with the familiar warmth of a blanket wrapped gently around the body, a meeting of atmosphere to skin that causes neither shiver nor sweat. Unfortunately for those about to run 26.2 miles, it was not July. It was, in fact, April, specifically Patriots’ Day, and that 26.2 was the infamous trek from Hopkinton to Boston. At 0500 it was already a perfect - for standing around - 68 degrees. By 0800, the sun was in full report and had heated the air to 74. All the warnings, of which there seemed to be hundreds poured forth by the Boston Athletic Association in the days leading up to the race, were being validated and quickly, as the temperature climbed to hit a race time reading of 79 degrees. In fact, the BAA was being so overzealous in sending their cautionary missives that one runner posted on Facebook: “BAA: stop sending me hate mail!” The lead women on Comm Ave. Of course, like this poster (who shall remain nameless), many runners still saw this as a manageable condition where they could perhaps even race. Could a properly trained athlete not hydrate correctly and perhaps only have to pare back the pace by a few seconds per mile, if that, to not only survive but even excel in such circumstances? Um, upon further reflection and many strident attempts, that answer would be “no.” Unfortunately, such calculation, as proven in the vast majority of cases on this day, would prove to be the beginning of the end for many runners of all ages, but seemingly especially afflicting the young. Be it for reasons of wisdom from experience or just plain mortal fear, a quick review of the results and a look at the faces coming off Heartbreak showed that the younger a racer was, the worse their race would unfold. All measures of racing must be graded relative to the condition and decision-making ability of the athlete. While the 4 hour marathoner might have run “smart” and ended up with a 4:40, and the 2:35 runner may have come away on a stretcher after having pulled up damned near dead at 22 on 2:37 pace, the elites also displayed evidence of residing in either camp— depending on their age. Sheri Piers, the unbreakable Master from Maine, did the right thing and clocked a 2:41 to take top US Honors, a feat that stands as all the more remarkable given that the race was won in 2:31 by 26 year old Kenyan Sharon Cherop. Piers said after the race that the unusually mild Maine winter and that she ran many of her runs on a treadmill in a warmer-thanoptimal room may have giv- Hartmann: only 1 calf sleeve en her the edge against her competitors. As mentioned earlier, the other camp’s existence was evidenced by none other than world best marathoner Geoffrey Mutai, owner of not only last year’s stunning 2:03 course record but also record holder of the New York City Marathon, which he set just last fall. This year, however, Mutai’s race never got off the ground as he held back throughout and still was forced to drop out midway through the hills at mile 18 due to severe cramping (wanna bet it was heat related?). Mutai’s departure opened the door for a group of men each of who likely expected to finish no higher than 5 th . Eventual winner Wesley Korir of Kenya cited his degree in biology as being the asset that he held over his fellow competitors, calling on his knowledge of hydration and physiology, concluding that it was a day to err on the side of caution. “It was survival of the fittest,” said the 29 year old Kitale born Korir, “Survive one step at a time. My biology degree helped today. I was more concerned about my 10

Featured Event Boston Marathon hydration than my position. It was really hot, and I wanted to be safe.” Korir, who at the foot of Heartbreak Hill was still a good 200 meters back and in 5 th place, worked his way up and made his move when he saw those in front on him start to slow at Kenmore Square. There, he found himself in the lead. However, the race was far from over and the heat seemed as if it might be claiming yet another victim; Korir was forced to slow as cramps seized his legs. Fortunately, he didn’t lose much time nor ground as he quickly reclaimed the lead from countryman Levy Matebo in the final mile, putting 26 seconds between them. He broke the tape for the win in a historically slow 2:12:40. While Matebo finished in 2 nd in 2:13:06 with fellow Kenyan Bernard Kiyego close on his heels at 2:13:13, the next finisher to come down Boylston surprised the crowds as he was hardly on anyone’s radar. Boulder’s Jason Hartmann brought his sizeable 6’3” 160 lb. frame through the finish in 2:14:31. That got him first Ameri- can male on a day that might not have seen any of the more household names, such as Keflezighi or Hall, do any better. I circled this on my calendar, and every day, this is what I’ve prepared for. I was motivated to beat people. I was not going to fail today. Hartmann had hung with the leaders early only to settle into the back of the top 10 as the race progressed. As the hills took their toll on his competitors, Hartmann remained strong and began to pick off those in front of him one by one, cresting Newton’s infamous final peak looking like he’d only begun and charged to the finish. Hartmann had run a 2:11 Chicago only 18 months earlier, but after a disappointing Olympic Trials marathon in which he ran Dionne and Bedoya: 2 outstanding local performances 2:16 and came in 32 nd , he was dropped by his chief sponsor (Nike) and parted ways with his coach. "This was a redemption race for me," Hartmann said. "I had a bad day [at the Trials], I circled this on my calendar, and every day, this is what I've prepared for. I was motivated to beat people. I was not going to fail today." On the women’s side, Sharon Cherop of Kenya had something to prove. Cherop was the forgotten finisher of the 2011 race, as she came in 3 rd behind winner Caroline Kilel and Level Renner fav Desiree Davila in the closest 1-2-3 finish in Boston women’s history when she essentially got caught flat not knowing how close to the finish they all were. This year, she sought to erase that mishap and looked to do so by leading early. Still, as she turned onto Boylston, she found herself in all too familiar territory as another set of feet were slapping the pavement inches away. Her company was none other than close friend Jemima Jelagat Sumgong, who ran beside her earlier in the race. After turning onto Boylston, 11

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