Marathon morning is usually full of preparation, jitters, butterflies and nervousness for runners. All those months of training leading up to the big day. I was hoping to run in the Marathon today, but due to my recent injury, I instead committed to riding the lead bike for the Half Marathon Women’s race. Even though I wasn’t racing there were butterflies and jitters in regards to making sure everyone is safe, no bike issues, reporting back race splits, staying on course.
This perspective gave me a unique look into the pacing and strategies of the front runners and amazingly they are similar to our own at times.
We were all wired up with radios and we were reporting split times, leaders, pacing, etc back to the finish line where announcers including Frank Shorter and Alan Culpepper were commenting on the race as it unfolded so I got to hear updates throughout even though I didn’t know who the runner’s were. Just bib numbers.
Both women’s races were fairly uneventful for the most part. Each had a leader set from the beginning of the race. Peris Chumba who was making her US debut, had a fast strong pace through the first 4 miles of the race. Then we got into downtown and the course began with some “gentle” climbs. Between the hills and some blowing wind, the pace settled in. She was running solo really. No one was around. Then along 17th a long straight away, slightly uphill, a group of guys, packed in around here and the pace dropped slightly as she found a new stride.
I kept looking back for the 2nd place women but never saw her, even on the long straight aways.
After winding through City Park, she lost contact with a few of the men, and found her pace slipping again. But she ran tough all the way through those tough last 3 miles. Her final time was nothing close to her PR of 1:16:18, perhaps that was the day she was having.
The Men’s Half Marathon sounded like a great race. A pack of 3-4 runners stayed in contact most of the race. Not sure at what point, but Matt Levassiur surged out and was able grab the win with a time of 1:08:04 (unofficial)
The Men’s Marathon seemed uneventful for the most part until the final miles of the race.
Chris Siemers was in contact with the lead from time to time through the first few miles of the race, but then was always about 1/4 to 1/2 mile back. I rode a replacement radio to the leaders as they approached mile 24 and this is where the race got interesting. I stayed with the leader for a half mile or so. He seemed to be tired but smooth and was commanding the lead. As we headed up Santa Fe Street, a long straight slightly uphill. with no one in sight. I turned and did see the 2nd place guy back there, so I hung back a bit to get a picture. There was Chris. His vantage point was much different. He could see the leader along with the press truck just before the crest of the hill and knew what he had to do to catch him. Teammate Michael Aish was yelling encouragement from the road side “Cummon, he’s only got 19 seconds on you and he is dying!”
Chris through his glasses to the side, and focused on his new goal: Win this race.
Chris had a distinct advantage at this point, he knew how far out the leader was, and that he was closing.
Just after the turn down 13th with a mile to go, Chris was in reach and passed with a surge. At first it didn’t shake the current leader, but eventually was too much for him and within 100 meters Chris had gained a sizeable lead now turning the corner onto Lincoln to the cheer of the crowds, he knew no matter how much he was hurting, the win was now his.
More photos to come soon