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Did I read it all wrong? Have I just not gotten it yet?

April 19, 2011

There are two reasons why I felt compelled to write another blog only two days after my last post.  First off, there was an historic race in Boston yesterday and secondly, IAAF finally released the 2012 Olympic standards.

I always look forward to the Boston marathon each year because there is good TV coverage (TSN) of the whole race, which is unusual for distance running. The 2011 Boston marathon was one for the record books yesterday as Geoffrey Mutai covered 42.2km quicker than anyone else in history by running 2:03:02.  Of course his time will not count as a World Record (WR) because the Boston course has a net elevation drop over the allowable limit of 1 meter per kilometre. In fact Boston’s course drops 3.1 meters per kilometre.  Also, for a point to point course to count as a WR the finish has to be within 21.1km of the start and Copley Square is more than 35km away from Hopkington.

How come everyone says Boston is a slow course if it’s a net downhill?  The uphills on the second half of the course make it slower.  How did Mutai and Moses Mosop (2:03:06) run that fast on a tough course? There was a massive tailwind (over 20kph) pushing them along as well as perfect temperatures.  It is estimated that the wind helped runners by as much as four minutes!

Ryan Hall ran under 2:05 yesterday which betters the American record, but just like the WR it will not be an official AR.  After beating Ryan by over a minute in a half marathon last month I didn’t expect that performance from him so soon.  I knew Ryan had an “off-day” in NYC and that he would have a better performance in Boston but I was surprised when he split halfway in under 1:02!  Interestingly, Athletics Canada would allow a Canadian record to be set at Boston because the race is an official qualifier for the Olympic Games.  I’m not sure how I feel about this because it’s proven that downhill courses aid runners.  You have to draw the line somewhere and the experts have drawn it at 1 meter per kilometre and it would be unfair if someone finally took down Drayton’s long-standing record on an aided course.

People typically say Boston is 1-2 minutes slower than a flat, fast course and yesterday’s tailwind helped by 3-4 minutes, so it would seem as though people running Boston yesterday got about a 2 minute boost in performance.  In no way do I think I would have beaten, or even been close to Ryan but a 2:09 in those conditions would have been more than possible.  I’m sure I would take it to the bank but it wouldn’t be the same as running fast on a “loop” course, not even close.

The other big news is the publication of the 2012 Olympic Standards.  These standards have implications for me even though I met the Canadian Olympic Standard of 2:11:29 last fall.  It turns out that the IAAF window didn’t open up until January 2011, therefore I have not fulfilled the IAAF standard to enter the Olympics.  The Olympic A standard in the marathon is 2:15:00 which means in the next year I need to beat that time in order to qualify for the Olympics.  With Gillis, Watson, Wykes and Bairu gunning for Olympic spots it seems the 2:15 is the least of my concerns if more than two of them run faster than 2:11:23. (Technically if no one else breaks 2:11:29 then I would only have to meet the Olympic B standard of 2:18 but I don’t see that situation playing out).

An interview after the 1/2 in Montreal this past weekend.

Here’s an interesting little excerpt about Canadian at Boston from an article published in the Boston Herald last week:

Canada, for instance, has won 16 titles, including a 1-2-3 finish in the 1900 race among John P. Caffery, William Sheering and Fred Hughson. Of Canada’s total, 15 of the titles came between 1898 and 1948 when Gerard Cote claimed the last of his four individual crowns (1940, 1943-44, 1948). Since Cote, the lone win for Canada came in 1977 when Jerome Drayton hit the finish tape first in 2:14:46. Drayton, who was born Peter Buniak in Kolbermoor, Germany, before immigrating to Canada, was a three-time Fukuoka Marathon winner and holds the Canadian national record of 2:10:08 from his 1975 Japan win.

Canada’s last bid for domination came in 1964 when four athletes from north of the border made it into Boston’s Top 10 in a 3-6-9-10 showing, led by third-place finisher Ron Wallingford, who was only 52 seconds out of first place.

  1. April 19, 2011 1:49 pm


    Great posting! Staying close to topic, would you personally consider a 10k pb on the Sporting Life Toronto course or is this course much too fast due to the elevation drop?

    I know you are far too busy worrying about other things for the next question, but what characteristics would you suggest Age Grouper to look for in attempts at PB’s? Should we stay away from obvious downhill courses or pick the fastest course for the quickest possible time?

    Or, am I over analyzing performance and should just run for the fun of it?

    Thanks for your time,

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      April 19, 2011 2:43 pm

      I wouldn’t consider any PB on a net downhill course (over 1 meter per kilometre) my real PB. That is why I really wanted to run faster in MTL than NYC. I don’t think it’s wrong for people to claim those PB’s, I’m just a stickler.
      I’m looking forward to Sporting Life to run a fast time, there’s nothing wrong with chasing fast courses as long as you don’t think you’re running worse on a flat course if your time is a little slower.

      • April 19, 2011 3:07 pm

        Thanks Reid! I appreciate your insight.

        Best of luck in the SL10k!


  2. Martin permalink
    April 19, 2011 2:17 pm

    Had to go look up those 64 results:

    1. Aurele Vandendriessche, Belgium 2:19:59 2. Tenho Salakka, Finland 2:20:48 3. Ronald Wallingford, Hamilton, Ontario 2:20:51 4. Paavo Pystynen, Finland 2:21:33 5. Hal Higdon, U of Chicago TC 2:21:55 6. David Ellis, Toronto Olympic Club 2:22:49 7. John J. Kelley, BAA 2:27:23 8. Osvaldo Suarez, Argentina 2:27:51 9. Paul Hoffman, Toronto A.C. 2:28:07 10. William Allen, East York TC, Ontario 2:28:19

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      April 19, 2011 2:43 pm

      Thanks for the results Martin.

  3. April 20, 2011 6:03 am

    That SL 10k will be sick!

  4. Desy permalink
    April 20, 2011 5:50 pm

    You have some good points in your post, maybe Boston is a “slow course” to some people because of the location of the hills, the crappy unpredictable April East Coast weather? I was acutally suprised to hear that Boston was a net downhill because everone runs slower times on that course compared to other courses, or they say “don’t expect to run a PB at Boston”

  5. P.R. permalink
    April 21, 2011 8:11 am

    maybe i missed it on a previous post; how many runners will athletics canada permit to qualify & attend the olympics? i’d love it if you could all get the times and all go and better the 1964 boston boys on an olympic stage!

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      April 22, 2011 7:25 pm

      In athletics each country is allowed to enter 3 athletes per event. AC will fill all three positions if athletes have met their standards.

  6. Martin permalink
    April 22, 2011 6:27 pm

    Here is an analysis of Race Time Bias for marathons:

    Here is an analysis of this year’s race:

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