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April 13, 2018

Lane 9: Fast Thoughts Ahead Of The Boston Marathon

With just a few days left before the 2018 Boston Marathon, Scott called for an emergency edition of Lane 9. The series is released every Monday and recaps every weekend’s best action. Check out our post from Monday. It’s opinions you didn’t know that you wanted to have from CITIUS MAG co-founders Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding.

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Have thoughts or questions about our thoughts and questions? Shoot them a tweet: @isthatsol & @ChrisChavez

Let’s get to some of the queries for Monday’s big day.

It seems like Molly Huddle is the presumed favorite by many. Agree or Disagree?

Scott: Man, I’ve been doing some thinking on that one and I’m going to go with a no. Huddle, Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Jordan Hasay each have some compelling evidence to suggest that they could win (or finish as top American). For instance, Molly hasn’t lost on the roads in six years and crushed Hasay in the Houston half. However, I just need to see a major performance in a marathon. Desi, Shalane, and Hasay have all obviously figured out the marathon. I’m not saying Molly hasn’t or won’t, but she has to show us. This is a freaking world major, after all.

Chris: I spent a few days working on my Sports Illustrated profile on her. (Shameless plug. Check it out) Basically, the numbers lean toward Huddle. I agree with the premise that ‘This is the marathon and numbers really don’t matter’ and it’s just an unpredictable race. But it’s just that I can envision her approaching this race, looking around and just thinking ‘I have beat all these women’ and you can feed off of that. I like the fact that when chatting with Molly, she doesn’t have that mindset that she’s going into this race to prove that she’s a marathoner. I guess that’s where she counters your point. She already is a marathoner and pulled off a good one while in between two track seasons. This will be her first ‘real’ marathon because it’s been a full build up. If she pulled off a third place showing on a tough course in New York like that, I think it’s really promising for Boston. Also her coach said that there’s been no hiccups.

Scott: OK, well it seems like you’re pretty sold on Molly then! Totally agree. This is her race to shine and show everyone what she can do over the distance. This is going to be an incredible race.

Do you think Hasay’s withdrawal from the Half Marathon Champs should give us pause regarding her chances of winning?

Chris: It casts just a slight degree of doubt. Then again, stay woke, Galen was banged up before his second place showing last year.  He pulled out of some races and wasn’t perfect. If one athlete under Alberto Salazar could do that, I think they must know what they’re doing in terms of recovery and being race ready.

You guys realize where Desi’s four fastest marathon performances have come, right?

Chris: Boston! Experience is on her side. Of the bunch, I think she’s got the lowest odds of winning but she thrives as a dark horse.

Scott: It also looks like the weather may be real dicey so I wouldn’t totally count her out.

When you close your eyes and picture when we know who is going to win this race, what do you see?

Scott: Wowza. Let me close my eyes for a moment…OK. Here’s what I’m seeing. If the weather is bad, I don’t think anyone will deviate from the pack until late especially if there is a headwind. I think at least 3 american women are in a pack together until after heartbreak hill. And that’s where someone like Shalane or Desi would want to maybe go earlier to try to take it out of Molly/Hasay’s legs.

Chris: Last year really soiled on the epic race I initially had envisioned because Edna Kiplagat just broke everyone right before Heartbreak Hill. I was on the women’s lead truck and we were just watching Kiplagat run alone for the last four or five miles. If I close my eyes, I think I see Huddle and Hasay together down Boylston Street. It gets hazy what happens next but it’s going to be close.

Scott: I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

The question everyone is coming here for. Do you think an american wins the women’s race?

Chris: I think the chances are good. Better than recent years. I think it depends on what kind of shape Edna Kiplagat shows up in. I think she’s probably the most dangerous international elite. Some of the others have faster personal bests but they haven’t run them recently. If she throws down like she did last year, she might win again. I’ll be optimistic though…I’m going with yes. The odds have not been this good in a long time.

Scott: Yes, an American will win the women’s race. I’m drunk on national pride, baby.

Don’t forget that there’s a men’s race. Galen Rupp has managed to get lucky in his marathon wins. What do the elites have to do to prevent him from winning?

Chris: We saw how Chicago played out. We saw how the marathon trials played out. Those two races were super similar and were just what Galen Rupp loves. Don’t do that. It’s like don’t give Aaron Rodgers the ball with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Don’t let Galen Rupp jog at 2:09-2:11 pace through the first 22 miles.

Scott: I think that the race needs to be more erratic out front. At the trials and Chicago, Rupp was pretty relaxed until he decided to go. I think the Boston field is stronger than the Chicago field. He’ll have more company than he did in Chicago. I’m sure he’s been running 130 mpw for 15 weeks so who really knows?

Chris:  It drove me crazy watching Chicago and knowing exactly that was happening. Then he really threw down. I think we could see a rivalry between him and Kirui again. What if Kirui becomes Rupp’s Henry Rono?

Scott: LOL, just looked this up, there are 16 men with faster PBs than Galen in the field. That’s not a totally fair statistic, as Galen is probably more of a 2:06ish guy, but wow! Seven of those times have come in 2016, 2017, or 2018

Chris: Oh he’s totally buried on the start list. It’s hilarious. I’m guessing these weather conditions don’t fare well for the fast time that we’re all still waiting to see from him.

Does Galen fare better or worse in 45 degrees, rain and a headwind?

Chris: Portland strong! Just check the pollen count.

Scott: For me, personally, I think that he wouldn’t do anything stupid and lead a big part of the race.

Do you see a top ten finish out of Shadrack Biwott, Ryan Vail or Andrew Bumbalough?

Chris: Definitely Shadrack. I think he’s been chipping away and this will be a good one for him. I can see Bumbalough sneaking in there.

Scott: We’d be remise without mentioning that unfortunately, Ritzenhein has dropped out.

Chris: I was looking forward to him because of the solid showing that he had at the NYC Half. He seems very serious about giving this another four-year run to take a stab at 2020 so hopefully it doesn’t sideline him for too long.

Here’s what the people want. Official Predictions. Go.

Scott: Shalane wins the women’s race. I think Shalane is gonna find it in her to win on her home course. Could retire after a win. Just connecting the dots. The women’s race is infinitely more interesting for me this year. If it plays out, it’ll be more exciting than Breaking2. On the men’s side, I’ll take Geoffrey Kirui. Honestly, I just don’t really want Rupp to win. I’m probably player hating here. It’s just hard for me to pull for him.

Chris: As I mentioned before, I’ll pick Huddle for the win. Now I’m going to toot my own horn here for a second. I wrote about Jordan Hasay before the Boston Marathon for SI and then she ran 2:20. I wrote about Shalane Flanagan before the New York City Marathon and she won. I wrote about Molly Huddle this time and then…we’ll see. No SI curse here! For the men’s race, I’m going with…Nobert Kigen for the win. I know that some of our readers love statistics. Here’s one: In the 122nd year history of the race, we have zero winners with the name Nobert. We’re due. But actually, he’s 25 and ran 2:05 in October. I like his upside.

Scott: Hard to argue with advanced sabermetrics like that.

Outside of the elites, is there any storyline that really interests you? Shout out your friends

Scott: I like that there is a fast 5K the same weekend. We have Nick Roche of the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club going up against Sam Parsons there.

Chris: There’s a guy running the entire race backwards. That’s kind of impressive. I hope he doesn’t run faster than 3:37 because that’s my personal best.

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