The reception to this website’s first few weeks has been fantastic so thanks a lot for coming along for the ride. It’s been great to feel the excitement about a new tone and voice within the sport. This week’s mailbag was a little light but that’s OK since I’m answering most of these at 3 a.m. with a little Anthony Bourdain in the background. We’ll touch on the Tokyo Marathon and then a little bit on conference championship weekend, which I wish I followed more closely.
Send in your questions to [email protected] for next week’s mailbag. I’ll answer any thoughtful or funny questions on track and field or in the occasional email from the U.K…. athletics.
Email from Rubis: What are the big storylines to watch on the men’s and women’s side for the marathon? (Sent from my iPad)
This question comes to us from The Hub of Distance Running and a former teammate of The Bachelor. (Vanessa totally has this locked up.) Well, Rubis, you’re in luck if you want to see one of the greatest marathoners in history. Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang is coming off a great run in last September’s Berlin Marathon, where he was second to Kenenisa Bekele in 2:03:13. Kipsang’s career best average for his top 10 marathons is 2:05:02, which would be a great sign to try and see him challenge that 2:05:18 course record on re-designed course. Brett Larner of Japan Running News recently wrote a post observing some of the changes to the course, which included some hills at bad times in the late stages of the race. A few adjustments were made and the verdict appears to be that it’s an improvement but wind could now be the issue in the closing stages.
On the women’s side, we have a familiar name making her debut. Betsy Saina, who trains with the Bowerman Track Club and was a standout for years at Iowa State, will be making her 26.2 debut. She’ll have to face 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion Berhane Dibaba, who is not related to the other Dibaba sisters…I think.
Email from Eric: Why don’t we see more Americans contest the Tokyo Marathon or the London Marathon?
I’ve always wondered that myself. It could be the timing of some of these races. Boston is only a week before or after London and it’s easier to stick around on home soil. Tokyo also comes in February which can be a tricky time in training. One thing that Andrew Bumbalough, who will be making his own marathon debut in Tokyo, noted in a recent blog post from the Bowerman Track Club is the flurry of runners that will be in the 2:11-2:12 range. That guarantees that Bumbalough will likely have someone to run with the entire way. If I recall when Matt Tegenkamp made his marathon debut in Chicago, they enlisted Chris Solinsky to pace him most of the way. I haven’t read anything about Bumbalough having a teammate or friend pace him along the way but with the popularity of road racing in Japan, there will be a lot of runners in his range. Sara Hall, who holds a personal best of 2:30:06, will run in the women’s race.
This year, we have two example of a U.S. elite going to Japan for the marathon. Later this spring, we’ll see Laura Thweatt go to London to chase a fast time there.
Email from Jacques: What’s up with Wilson Kipsang and the sub-two hour project?
First off, I think the name Jacques is very cool and reminds me of former outfielder Jacque Jones who was good with the Twins but not so much with the Cubs. You know who is really good though. Wilson Kipsang. (Terrible transition) Kipsang is an adidas athlete so definitely has no part in Nike’s Breaking-Two team or in Paul Snyder’s Debajo Dos venture. The independent Sub 2 Hours project headed by physiologist Yannis Pitsiladis has recruited Kipsang. Unfortunately, the results for their work with Kenenisa Bekele took a little step back as he dropped out of last month’s Dubai Marathon with an injury.
Back in 2014, Kipsang told Competitor that we maybe should hold off on the sub-two hour talk until we get to 2:01. There’s still some time that has to be shaved off. The Sub 2 Hours project also does not appear to be in a rush any time soon.
We’ll see how much Kipsang’s work with this new group will benefit him in his first major marathon since Berlin. It appears he’s been working with them since January.
Email from Sam: If I have to watch just one conference championship meet this weekend, which should it be?
Sam, sorry to disappoint because I’ve personally fallen off on watching collegiate track but I’ll tune in on occasion. There’s just so much to follow and I don’t have a whole lot of time. If you want to strike a good balance go to the SEC for the incredible relays like the 4×400 and then the distance-focused races you can’t go wrong with MPSF. Keep in mind that Oregon’s women’s sprints program is looking fantastic and on their way to their seventh NCAA indoor title in the last eight years. I’m a Big East guy for everything (as you may have followed along in recent weeks for basketball) and Spencer Brown of The Athlete Special is in the men’s DMR and the men’s 3,000 there. So find a way to tune into that.
Here’s how the Citius Mag staff was divided: Paul and Jeanne (Heps, no surprise there); Nicole (Big Ten), Scott (Big Ten and then switched to say SEC)
If you’re looking for a schedule on how to watch all of the weekend’s meets: USTFCCCA has you hooked up and I’d probably recommend them for your comprehensive previews.
Email from Ari: Read your post on the men that have broken four minutes for the mile at every 100th marker. Who has the coolest name on the list so far?
Roosevelt Jackson. It reminds me of the subway station that I take every morning.
Tweet from DumbFlotrack: Is it possible to date one of the girls on the team and still be “one of the guys”
Hate to break it to you but I went to an all-guys high school and then I was not fast enough to run in college so I can’t drop any first-hand experience with you. Having come across some threads on this and having friends on different track teams, I think it’s fairly common to date someone on the team. I think it’s totally possible to still be “one of the guys” in the crew. Just earlier in the week, Scott Olberding discussed how Emily Pritt and Ryan Hill are great for each other in their relationship. There’s some famous runner couples out there like the Halls and the Gouchers. DumbFlo, do what your heart tells you. Phoebe Wright also had some advice not too long ago.