The running world regained its familiar axis Monday as two African runners,
Cheruiyot's time was the fastest in history on the venerable course, breaking the mark of 2:07:14 set by four-time champ
But perhaps more interesting than the results are the two top U.S. male distance runners,
Neither technique has proved supreme. Hall is the defending Olympic trials champion and finished the Boston Marathon in 2:08:41, while Keflezighi was the 2009 New York City Marathon champ and finished Boston in 2:09:26. But each method is worth examining.
Keflezighi paces himself by the strength of the field. Although he hangs back, he is prepared to keep up should the pace increase. He covers any move he feels is a legitimate push by one of the lead runners, but doesn't kill himself by doing so. Tucking in behind the taller runners to break any extended headwind is beneficial for Keflezighi, who starts the real race at about mile 18.
Hall, on the other hand, paces himself with his stopwatch. He is patient and doesn't feel obligated to pick up speed if the pace doesn't suit him. He sticks to his split times and the tangents at every turn. In contrast to Keflezighi, Hall doesn't worry about tucking behind people because he's too tall to benefit much from it. By starting the real race from mile one, he doesn't have to race the field until the last mile or two.
On Monday, Hall went by the mantra to run free and have fun. "I didn't feel I had to go with every move," he said. "I wanted to run my own race." He and his running wife, Sara, came up for a week in February, when four-time champ
Hall ran from the front for much of the first eight miles in the race until Ethiopia's
By the Newton Hills, shortly thereafter, Keflezighi started to drop off the pace as he began to feel the lingering effects of a leg injury that cost him valuable training time. "I was feeling great at that point," he said. "The separation happened at the firehouse [on the hills]." Hall stayed up for a while, but with a 4:37 mile at 1:30:00 into men's race, Merga and Cheruiyot started to pull away.
Hall guarded the details of his interval and tempo runs closely during his training. In the lead-up to the race, he did intervals of three times eight kilometers at 4:50 pace with a mile float in between. "I thought it would be good enough to win," he said. "At mile 24, I saw the lead helicopter off in the distance. And I didn't think it was coming back to me. At that point I was running my own race. I was checking my watch quite a bit. Those guys were throwing down 4:30 splits. I was happy with that. If I went [too fast], I was worrying about blowing up a bit."
Cheruiyot pulled away for a minute, 31-second victory, over
Still, Keflezighi, who turns 35 next month, said he'd like another shot at Boston, where no U.S. man has won since
For Hall, 27, his best days may be ahead. It will be worth watching to see if he adapts to more standard race tactics in the future or if other runners try to copy his.
On the women's side, Erkesso built a lead of almost two minutes, then watched Russia's
In contrast, Pushkareva, a former ballroom dancer, was waving to the camera on the lead vehicle as she was catching up. In the end, Erkesso clocked in four seconds before Pushkareva.
Some top runners did not take part.