Friday, August 21, 2009

World Championship Marathon – Sunday- History to be made?

[This post was authored by Erica.]

The last World Championships were held in Osaka, Japan, where Catherine Ndereba, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medalist, won the women’s marathon in 2:30:37, under warm and humid conditions. At the same championship, Kara Goucher earned a bronze medal in her first World Championship attempt at 10,000m. Fast forward two years and the championships are being held on a much flatter, faster course with more favorable temperatures. Ndereba will not be there to defend her crown, but in her absence, Kara will attempt to win the first World Championship Marathon title for an American. But she won’t be without potential challengers. The great wildcard in this race is Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder in the women’s marathon, at 2:15:25, a full 10 minutes faster than Kara’s personal best of 2:25:53.

The last time we saw Kara race, she won the Rock N Roll Chicago half marathon, and by “won” I mean she won the race outright in 1:08:05, beating all male and female participants. Kara has had a great winter, spring and summer this year, showing unrivaled range in winning the Millrose Mile and finishing 3rd in the Boston marathon, an agonizing 9 seconds out of first. After that narrow defeat in Boston, Kara has said she is working on her ability to finish, which she displayed in the 5,000m at the US Championships, when she closed the last mile in a very quick 4:36.

Paula has raced much more sparingly this year. The last time Paula raced was last weekend in the NYC Half Marathon, where she won, uncontested, in 1:09:45. Both before and after the race Paula stated that the race was a time trial and fitness test to determine if she is ready for the marathon on Sunday. While she has traveled to Berlin, she has indicated that she will put off a decision until race time.

Kara has been very outspoken about the fact that she has chosen to put her life on hold and focus solely on the World Championship Marathon. Paula has been equally as open and honest about her recent injury cycle and her perceived lack of training. That said, Paula never lines up unless she’s ready to race but neither does Kara. Sunday should be a great race.

Universal Sports has a nice piece on Kara here.

Kara on her way to winning the Chicago Rock N Roll Half:

Postscript: The World Championship Women's Marathon was won by Xue Bai of China in 2:25:15. After being in contention early, Kara finished 10th in 2:27:48, citing stomach/hydration issues and resulting cramping. Paula Radcliffe did not start and is expected to race a fall marathon.

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