Okay, maybe it’s not THE Boston Marathon preview, but it’s certainly our Boston Marathon preview. In our view, this is the most important marathon in the world. Not the most runners, not the fastest course, nor the media center of NYC, but it’s the most seeped in tradition. There are so many layers to the Boston Marathon that it’s truly an American sporting event, not just a running one. There are the elite athletes, the other 25,000 that think they are, it’s Patriots’ Day without football, terrorists are getting convicted, endurance sports brands all make the pilgrimage to prove their relevance, and now Americans are winning the race again, and frankly East Africans are not going to take it much longer. It’s like a party and here is the only preview you’ll need.
First off, Nick Arciniaga is going to win. Well, maybe. Full disclosure: I represent Nick so I think I have to say that. I skipped that day in law school when they were covering fiduciary duty, but now I think we’re good on the legal front. For real though, he could win. After a 39-year-old won last year I suppose anything can happen. Nick is fit, took 9th at NYC and was overshadowed in a strong 7th place Boston finish a year ago. Plus, when he wins I’m pretty sure Kevin Plank will put us on some private plane headed to some NBA arena to watch Steph Curry shoot basketballs. So I’m really pulling for Nick here. However, there are other contenders that at least deserve a mention.
The East Africans. They are not happy. All of them, not happy.
Do you really believe everything is hunky dory amongst elite runners from different countries and continents? There is distrust and there is trash talking and frankly East Africans have owned the runners from the West. Yes, everyone is nice in the interviews, on panels and at the finish line. Shoot, Mo and Galen probably are really good friends because Salazar makes them play paddy cake, but when shoe rubber meets the road the Africans usually win. Now this Meb character comes in and steals their money. Oh no you didn’t girlfriend. Well, yes he did.
So now you have a gaggle of Kenyans and Ethiopians including Patrick Makau (2:03:38) and Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45). I’m not really an expert on the whole international running thing so I’m not going to pretend I know which East African is running hot right now. But I do know that there are a dozen dudes that have run faster than Mr. Meb and they want to put an end to the American running revival thing. One of them is Wesley Korir who is a Kenyan congressman. Cool factoid.
Back to the Americans.
The Boston Marathon and the John Hancock Elite field coordinator, Mary Kate Shea, have assembled another solid American field. No Ryan Hall in the line up means less pre-race hype, but more consistency on race day. Less peacocking, but more finishers.
Meb is looking good again and now he’s 40. Freaking 40. In preparation he was 8th in 1:02:17 at the NYC Half. If you know Meb, this is a good sign. Hard to believe he could win again but you just can’t count him out.
Dathan Ritzenhein: Ritz has run 2:07:47. When he is not broken, he is very good and very tough. If I was a betting man that was allowed to bet then I’d certainly consider putting monopoly money next to his name. But I’m not and I’m not, and frankly it’s monopoly money. Jeez USATF that is not even real currency.
Matt Tegenkamp: Anytime someone signs up to run five weeks from the race then you know they’re fit. Apparently he felt very strong at the NYC Half and then something bit his calf before jogging it in. Teg is an exciting late addition to the field, but I just don’t know if he’s a marathoner. Plus he’s a ginger and thus you can basically throw everything else out the window. Wildcard.
Jeff Eggleston: A bad ass. Jeff was 8th here last year and runs fearless. If the race busts open, the field dissipates and runners are going backwards then I could see Eggleston there to pick up the pieces. I don’t know what any of that means.
Fernando Cabada: He put the Central Valley on the running world map long before Macfarland USA hit movie theaters and is tough as hell. He should be right in the mix with this group.
While I don’t know much about international men’s marathoning, I know even less about the women’s side. But here is the story. Boston wants an American woman to win and that woman is Shalane Flanagan. She went for it last year, came up short and is back for redemption. The problem is that three people in the field have run faster than her including Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba who has already run sub-2:20 this year. Beyond Dibaba there are 10 women around/under 2:25 and it will be a crazy race. The women start first and it’s a great way to see their tactics in the early downhill miles.
Shalane Flanagan: Nike’s sole poster child on the distance side. Oh man she wants to win.
Desiree Devilla Linden: This woman is super tough. A few years ago she almost won this race as it came down to a sprint finish. Losing by mere seconds Desi hasn’t quite got back to that form. However, knowing her Hanson’s coaches’ temperaments, I have to assume they are patiently building her back up for 2016. This could be another notch in the come back.
Amy Hastings: You get this feeling that Hastings is the next Flanagan. Incredible talent, seems to handle the marathon training, and keeps getting faster. The problem is that I think we’ve been saying that for a couple years now. Murmerings are that she is at a new fitness level and could be the top-American finisher. What do I know? Not much.
Now lets get outside of the lines, off road and talk about the fun stuff.
Boston Marathon Party Preview
Basically read this as a list of things that I’m waiting to get invited to or I wish existed.
The Runner’s World Party: I don’t really know what happens here, but I assume it’s kind of like a Christmas office party. Bart Yasso Xeroxes his butt, maybe Galloway holding a walk/run clinic, yeah I don’t really know. There will certainly be some dudes wearing khaki dress pants and New Balance 801s.
The Adidas Party: I actually went to one of these a few years ago when it was at Cheers. I think I got drunk with Joe Rubio from Running Warehouse and former NCAA Champ Cross-Country Keith Kelly. However, knowing the three of us that might not have been the Adidas party at all. That could have been a Tuesday at Pizza Port. So while this is supposed to be a preview I’m just hoping for a repeat.
Some other weird party I don’t even know about: I’m hoping for some brand to throw an actual weird event. There is so much damn money in this industry right now from events, to mudders, to all of you beautiful people buying $150 shoes, that I hope some company puts it to good use. Elements that I’m looking for: Usain Bolt, Craig Virgin, maybe Richard Branson, live animals, ice luge shots, and foam. I mean that is what the Boston Marathon is about.
The Boston Bombings
Security was way up last year. I felt incredibly safe and this round I doubt Boston is going to let its guard down especially now that they have a 2024 Olympic Bid on the line. What is amazing is that they timed the verdict of one of the bombers around the marathon. Strange timing or perfectly placed PR.
Twitter Prize Money
Last week T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, twittered at everyone that he wanted to offer an extra $100,000 to any American that won the Boston Marathon. The marathon asked him stand down (they have a sponsorship conflict with AT&T) and instead donate his money to their BAA Elite Development team. I’m hoping that Legere sticks to his guns and just writes a fat check to an American winner. In fact, I hope he writes it to Nick while we’re on Plank’s plane headed to watch Curry shoot basketballs. Man that is going to be awesome.
Race Director Dave Finishes Another One
Every year Dave McGillivray runs the entire Boston Marathon AFTER the actual race has concluded. This act has been chronicled numerous times and it’s not much of a prediction. However, as a race director I love this tradition and last year I joined Lance Armstrong amongst others watching him finish around 9pm that night. I’m hoping to join him this year…and then kick for the win. Legere…does that count?