It was a great finish in the men’s 2008 New York City Marathon, as Marilson Gomes dos Santos took his second title on the streets of New York, winning in 2:08:43. Until the final kilometer, however, the race was Abderrahim Goumri’s, as he opened up a nine second lead with 3km to go. But the elastic was stretched, but never broken, and the Brazilian dos Santos hung on and then closed Goumri down before moving ahead inside the final kilometer.
It was a dramatic turn-around, because at the 35km mark, Goumri had moved into the lead, and gradually opened up a lead, first to three seconds, and then to nine seconds. It looked for all the money in the world that Goumri was going to put an end to his run of second-place finishes in Major city marathons. I had almost written the headline to this post, proclaiming Goumri’s first Major title!
But dos Santos clearly didn’t get the memo! He held on, kept the lead at 9 seconds, and the reeled in the Moroccan inside the final mile. Truth be told, once dos Santos had bridged the gap, the race was over in a flash – having been held at about 7 to 9 seconds, dos Santos opened a big leap and eventually won by 24 seconds, Goumri’s resistance well and truly broken. The size of the final victory margin was deceptive – it was far closer to that.
How the race unfolded
The table and graph below show our usual post-marathon analysis:
As for the women’s race, the early pace was slow – 16:20 through 5km and projected 2:17:50 was never going to last! In the graph above, the grey line shows the splits from last year’s race, and you can see how the first half was much slower. Halfway was reached in 1:06:06, and a large group with all the main contenders was still present.
That’s where it got interesting – a progressive increase in pace, as seen in the graph, saw the pace drop below 3:00/km for the first time, and by a huge margin. Between 25 and 30km, the pace was incredibly fast – 14:24 (2:53/km), driven by attack and counter-attack, primarily by Goumri, Rono, Kirui and dos Santos. All the while, Paul Tergat, at 39, the elder statesman of the race, shadowed the move and the chances of a dream return after 18 months out were alive.
However, eventually the intensity of the surging told on the two Kenyans, Rono and Tergat. The 10km interval between 25km and 35km was run in 29:12, and that split the race wide open. Only Goumri and dos Santos remained. First it was dos Santos who pressed, and opened up a small lead of about 6 m on Goumri. But that was just sparring, the real move was to come, and it would be by Goumri, who surged just before 35km to open up his nine second lead.
That lead held, as mentioned, for the next 5 or so kilometers, until eventually, in Central Park, he faltered. The splits in the table are those of Dos Santos, but if you were to look at Goumri’s, you would see that he covered the 5km from 35km to 40km FIVE SECOND FASTER than dos Santos (15:02 vs. 15:07). His final 2.2 km were run in 7:08, 32 seconds SLOWER than dos Santos, though once passed, he certainly threw in the towel.
So Goumri, then, edged again, and his run of second-place finishes continues. He must have thought (as did we), that with Martin Lel out and the race relatively open, this was his great chance to claim that first title. But it ended in heart-break, and perhaps he got carried away with 7km to run and pressed too soon? Given his much vaunted speed (a sub-13 minute 5000m PB), he might have backed his finish over the final kilometer. Then again, having been dusted twice by Lel in the final 400m, one can hardly blame him for wanting to finish alone! Still, he’ll look back on NYC 2008 with fair regret.
Take nothing away from Dos Santos though, he ran a brilliant race – the first half was 1:06:06. His second half was 1:02:37, and that’s brilliant running in New York. So he bags his second New York title, proving that the first was no fluke, and confirms him as a major marathon name, especially in competitive races (as opposed to paced time-trials like Berlin)
As for Tergat, he came in fourth, behind Daniel Rono in third, and probably doesn’t quite have the speed he needs to challenge seriously in these big races. Then again, Petrova held Radcliffe for 35km, maybe he’ll be back? I can’t see it happening, however, and maybe New York is the curtain call on his magnificent career.
So that brings and end to the Marathon season for 2008. Your champions are Martin Lel and Irina Mikitenko. But in our opinion, the “real” world number ones are Sammy Wanjiru and Paula Radcliffe.
2009 should be a great year – will we see another world record? And who will break it? Wanjiru? Lel, if he can return from malaria and a broken foot? And most importantly, how will Sammy Wanjiru fare wearing his Olympic crown?
Join us for all that analysis! Thanks for reading this year race analyses!