Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dryer Top American, Baba 7th at NYC Marathon

Elva Dryer at the 2007 ING NYC Marathon (photo by Victah Sailer)You just never know with the marathon. There are so many variables that can affect performance – the weather, a cramp, missing a water bottle. After this weekend we can add a new one to the list – running alone for 25 miles. That’s exactly what Elva Dryer did on Sunday at the ING NYC Marathon. The elite women started 30 minutes before the rest of the field, and when the gun sounded, Paula Radcliffe ran. The elite women’s field was very top-heavy this year, with a half-dozen heavy-hitters, but not much depth beyond that. When Paula set off at 2:20 pace pace from the start, Elva did the smart thing to hang back and run her pace. Unfortunately, she was the only one running that pace on Sunday. At the mile mark she was running alone, and continued to do so for the remaining 25.2 miles. It’s not an easy way to run a race, and certainly isn’t ideal for running fast. “Elva isn’t a great time-trialer,” her husband told me after the race. “She’s a competitor. Her strength is getting in a race and competing.”

Despite these less-than-perfect conditions, Elva still Baba at the 2007 ING NYC Marathon (photo by Victah Sailer)finished in 6th place and was the top American finisher. She had hoped to run sub-2:30 (she ran 2:35), but the race will give her the confidence she needs going into the US Olympic Marathon Trials next April in Boston.

On the men’s side, Baba ran a strong race through 30 kilometers, but wasn’t able to respond to and recover from all of the surges that dictated the last few miles of Sunday’s race. Martin Lel was. “I just didn’t feel strong after halfway. My legs would not go with those guys,” Baba said after the race. He was disappointed with his 7th place finish, but the following morning he was already talking about the next race. After a few weeks of rest on his farm in Meru, Kenya, Baba will start the process all over again, with his sights set on…Boston?

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