The hype surrounding this year’s ING New York City Marathon started earlier and was louder than ever before. Some credit social media, while others suggest it was Mary Wittenberg’s (CEO of New York Road Runners) ability to secure one of the finest elite fields in the history of the sport. Perhaps participants and New Yorkers generated some added enthusiasm when they learned of the New York Road Runner’s Opening Ceremony plans which included a cultural parade, fireworks, a dance party, and the inaugural NYRR Hall of Fame Inductees ceremony! While the aforementioned could be justly credited for the rise in hype; others will tell you this is just another indication that we really are experiencing a world-wide running boom!
The race lived up to the hype providing 47,000 runners with a magical journey from Staten Island through the streets of the big apple and into the world famous hills of Central Park. Athletes were greeted with near perfect conditions; which undoubtedly drew even more New Yorkers out of their lofts and onto the streets to applaud the ambitious harriers along their 26.2 mile trek.
Three men flew under Tesfaye Jifar’s course record of 2:07:43, set in 2001; including Tsegaye Kebede (2:07:13), runner up Emmanual Mutai (2:06:28) and the 2011 ING NYC Marathon Champion, Geoffrey Mutai who covered the course in 2:05:05! Emmanual Mutai’s (no relation to Geoffrey Mutai) 2nd place finish garnered him enough points to secure his 2010-2011 World Marathon Majors Title.
American Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2009 edition of this race finished in 6th place in a personal best time of 2:09:13, two seconds faster than his winning performance time two years ago—a true testament to the elite field assembled. Other notable American performances included Ed Moran (2:11:46) and debut marathoner Bobby Curtis (2:16:44).
Kenya’s Mary Keitany set out on a blistering 2:14 pace right from the gun, running several low 5-minute miles, leaving the rest of the elite field with nothing to do but chase. While believers in ‘frontrunning’ prayed for her to prove the “sit and kickers” of the world wrong, Keitany started paying the price for her self-destructive strategy. Buzunesh Deba and Firehiwot Dado, both of Ethiopia started closing the gap. With about 2k to go the duo caught Keitany, but it wasn’t without a nearly 4 minute battle before Keitany fell victim to Dado. Deba trailed but eventually passed Keitany for a 2nd place finish (2:23:19). Dado was victorious in a time of 2:23:15.
Top female Americans included two athletes making their marathon debut in New York. Molly Pritz, representing the Hanson’s Brooks Distance Project, and Lauren Fleshman of the Oregon Track Club finished in 12th (2:31:52) and 16th (2:37:22) respectively. Jen Rhines of the Mammoth Track Club pulled out from the competition.
The 2011 New York City Marathon saw a decline in elite American participants due to the upcoming USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14th.
About the Author: Chantelle Wilder is the Senior Editor and Co-Founder of Runners Feed. She also competes for the New Balance Silicon Valley club in the Bay Area of California. When she isn’t running, or editing she can be found enjoying the fruitful wines of nearby Napa Valley while challenging her husband to a game of Bananagrams®.