Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Boston Marathon

I got home late from school last night and sat down on the couch to veg out before bed.  As a flipped through the channels, I found the Boston Marathon playing on Universal Sports.  They were rebroadcasting the race from earlier in the day, and as I hadn't seen the results yet, it was all new to me.

What made it especially interesting was the night before they played the 2010 race, so I was all caught up on the back story.  In that race Ryan Hall hung in with the leaders for much of the race, but was eventually outgunned by a swarm of Kenyans.  No surprise, the Africans have been dominating marathon racing for two decades.  Could this race be different?  I tuned in at the halfway point, and Ryan Hall was leading the race!  Not only that, he had pushed the pace so hard that he ran the first 13 miles in 1:01!  Could an American actually win the race this year?

The women's race was looking equally unlikely: American Desiree Davila was leading two Kenyans of her own, and she looked strong.  As the race continued, everyone kept picking up the pace.  In the men's race, the Kenyans surged, leaving Hall behind.  But then Hall caught back up, taking long, smooth fast strides and looking like he wasn't worried at all.  The crowd was chanting, "USA!  USA!" as the leaders went by, egging Hall and Davila on.

Eventually, the Kenyan's surged and left Hall on his own.  The women's race was even closer; Davila fought to the last 200 meters to keep the lead, and eventually was edged out by a veteran Kenyan runner.  When all was said and done, the men finished in 2:03:02, the fastest marathon ever!  Ryan hall came in 4th, but with an amazing time of 2:04:58.  To put that in perspective, if he ran that time last year, he would have not only won, but broken the course record by a minute!

On paper the race seemed similar to last year: a lone American leading at times, but eventually overtaken by the unbeatable Africans.  But watching the race, it seemed different.  Rather than the USA runners trying to hang on, it seemed like they were really competing, pushing the pace, leading, fighting.  I couldn't help but think (and hope) that this was the beginning of American runners really getting back into the mix.  We all like to root for the underdog, right?

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