NYC Marathon a one-of-a-kind experience
This past weekend, the 48th New York City Marathon took place.
This race was started in 1970 and had 127 entrants. It was run entirely within the confines of Central Park (4 loops). The decision to move it out of the park and design a course that encompassed all five of the city’s boroughs has allowed it to grow into a mammoth spectacle.
It has captured the imagination of runners worldwide. This year’s race had more than 52,000 finishers. It is now one of the world’s six great marathons. The other five are Boston, Berlin, London, Chicago and Tokyo.
The vast majority of runners who ran N.Y. say it is a running experience beyond compare. They laud the organization of it, but save their most lavish praise for the energy and support of the crowds who line the streets. They comment on how it is a tour through the diversity that makes up NYC.
Runners are fascinated by all the “urban villages” they get to experience. The race humanizes the city and tears down stereotypes.
Kim Caruso, who ran on the Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie team, said “the cheering crowds were insane and one section in Brooklyn was deafening.” The excitement and the energy of it all (along with her training) helped propel her to a 36 minute personal best time. (4:21:19).
This year’s race was run under perfect marathon conditions. It was cool with temperatures in the low 50’s and no wind.
The men’s race was a battle right to the end as Kenyan Lelisa Desisa (2:05:59) outlasted Shura Kitata (2:06:01) by a mere two seconds. Geoffrey Kamworor, the 2017 champion took 3rd in 2:06:26.
The fastest women were Mary Keitany (2:22:48), Vivian Cheruiyot (2:26:02) and the 2017 champion, American Shalane Flanagan took 3rd in 2:26:22. The big news of the day was the depth and competitiveness of the American women.
Americans took four of the top seven spots and 11 of the top 18. This bodes well for America’s hopes in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The U.S. Olympics Trials in 2020 is shaping up to be the deepest and most competitive field ever.
New Paltz’s Harbert Okuti had the best performance of anyone from the area. Okuti, a native of Uganda, ran for Iona College and is coached by Mike Barnow, who lives in Alligierville.
When I first met Okuti, he was a miler. Under Barnow’s tutelage, he has made the transformation into a world class marathoner. In N.Y., Okuti came in 16th and ran a personal best 2:16:53.
Other local runners who reported their times were: Omar Perez (2:56), Dierdre Dwyer (2:59), Lisa Loughran (4:11), Danielle Mazzella (4:38), Dave Walker (4:39), Kathleen Laux (4:40), Mary Roosa (4:41), Jen Braun (4:51), Colleen Kortright (5:02), Cyndy Borzumato Cobb (5:24), Jo Blackmore (5:44) and Laura Keeley (6:10).
In October, at the Berlin Marathon, a new world best was set by Eliud Kipchoge of Ethiopia. Kipchoge ran an amazing time of 2:01:39. This time broke the record by 1 minute and 18 seconds.
This performance was the biggest drop in 41 years. Kipchoge was the 2016 Olympic marathon champion. His pace was 4:38 per mile. Kipchoge stands 5’6” and weighs 115 pounds. Interesting.
The existing world best marathon for women is 2:15:28 run by England’s Paula Radcliffe in 2003. The American records are Khalid Khannouchi’s 2:05:38 (2002) and Deena Kaster’s 2:19:36 (2006).
At the Rhode Island Marathon, Saugerties’ Rachel Meyers ran a personal best time of 3:14, breaking the 3:20 barrier for the first time. Valerie Stote, running her first marathon, clocked a 5:49 at the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.
Shawn Beresford ran the Chicago Marathon in 4:05 and the Marine Corps in 3:51. At Hartford, Doug Needham ran 3:25.
In my last column, I mentioned how more and more runners in their 60’s, 70’s and now 80’s are running and competing.
I know if I look at my race times now, they seem slow compared to what I once ran. How can an older runner evaluate their performance objectively and maintain motivation to keep pushing and training?
Thankfully, the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA), the governing body for Masters (over 40 year old) athletes, has a system called “Age Grading.”
Using statistical data based on actual performance of runners of all ages, they have come up with tables that attempt to quantify performance regardless of age and sex. The tables take your performance and come up with a percentage rating.
This allows someone to see what their rating is compared to anyone of any age.
If a 35-year-old man runs a 17:15 5k, his rating would be 74.72%. If a 63-year-old man runs a 20:56, his rating would be 76.95% and if a 41-year-old woman runs a 20:33, her rating would be 73.56% by comparing the ratings, you can see who had the better race. In this case, it was the 63 year old man.
The ratings are also categorized into four broad classes.
Ratings above 90% are considered world class, above 80% is national class and above 70% regional class. Rating under 70% is called local class. This system allows you to compare your performance against anyone.
The tables also have data that equates your time to what you would have done in your prime running years.
For example, I could take my best 5k from my 30’s and compare it to my performance in my 60’s. The raw time will of course be slower, but the quality of my race might be the same or better. This allows you to compete against your younger self and stay motivated.
Nowadays, all the tables are in computerized age grading calculators and are easy to use. Many race results now include age grading percentages and some races even give awards based on them.
With age grading, a mom can now “race” her teenage son on equal footing.
Correcting The Record
In my last column about area Turkey Trots, I said the Phoenicia Turkey Trot was a benefit for the Phoenicia Library. That was true in its early years, but it is now a fundraiser for the United Methodist Church Food Pantry.
Also, another turkey trot in the area is the Blue Mountain Turkey Trot. It happens on Thanksgiving morning and starts at the Grant D. Morse School in West Saugerties. It is an untimed 5k fun run organized by Theresa Baker and the Onteora Runners Club.
The event is free and open to all. They recommend that you bring a food item to donate to the Saugerties Food Pantry. More information is available at www.onteorarunners.org.
Just a reminder not to miss the 35th Reindeer Ramble. This 5k is organized by the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County. The race is on December 2nd and is great fun. It is a nice way to start the holiday season.
For more specific details on each of these races and more, check the race calendar.
Race directors, please submit information for the race calendar to sports@ freemanonline.com. Information should be in the form of a concise email with important details highlighted and included in the body of the email. No race flyer PDFs.
Race results should be submitted directly to me at email@example.com.
Steve Schallenkamp has been active in area running circles since 1966 as runner, race director, volunteer and coach. He is a member of the Onteora Runners Club and president of the Shawangunk Runners Club.
New Paltz’s Harbert Okuti, right, runs alongside Bernard Lagat during last Sunday’s New York City Marathon.