But such realities have rarely stopped me in the past, so piss on it.
The top times today, particularly on the men’s side, were off-the-hook fast. The winner, Geoffrey Mutai, ran 2:03:02 and the runner-up, Moses Mosop, was only four seconds behind him. These by far were the fastest marathons ever run. However, the Boston Marathon course is not record-eligible because it is on a point-to-point course, meaning that it can in theory feature a large net tailwind, which was the case today and in an unprecedented way. Also, this particular point-to-point course drops between 400 feet and 500 feet from start to finish, and even though many argue that the configuration of the rises and falls render the course anything but aided on the basis of topography, it is still classified as such.
But it is possible to draw some conclusions outside of the context of times. For one thing, Ryan Hall has if nothing else established that he can run great marathons without the benefit of a coach and that his unyielding philosophy of running to glorify God doesn’t seem to be hurting him as an athlete. People are motivated by all sorts of goofy and even vainglorious reasons, many of them private. Seriously, is doing well largely to impress someone of the opposite sex — and I think a lot of us have done this — any more unruly than Hall’s ethos? Anyway, today he finished fourth behind a guy who ran 2:04:55 last spring, a 59:20 half-marathoner making his 26.2-mile debut, and the 2010 New York City Marathon champion, and beat the man who set the course record last year.
On the ladies’ side, Desiree Davila appears to have “officially” taken over as the United States’ pre-eminent woman marathoner in the post-Deena Kastor age, on the basis not only of her stirring runner-up finish today but also of her 2:26:20 in Chicago six months ago. Between Davila, Kara Goucher (5th today in 2:24:52, less than seven months after giving birth) Amy Hastings (2:27:03 in L.A. last month in her first marathon) and Shalane Flanagan (who debuted in New York City last fall and finished second off a very slow pace, and who can very likely run close to 2:20:00 should she make the marathon her focus), the U.S. has never had such a powerful contingent of woman marathoners, and they are a fairly young group.
Finally, it would be wrong not to complain about the terrible coverage of the race on the Universal Sports Network. Usually, on the infrequent occasions that a major running event is broadcast live, people with a running background bitch that the commentary is too dumbed-down. If that were the only problem, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. Today it was just dumb. Getting names wrong, not giving key splits, making observations about the runners and the race that show a comprehensive ignorance of the sport — if they’re just going to hand the reins to someone like Al Trautwig, who seems to have “prepared” by reading a Wikipedia entry about marathon running at about 4 a.m. this morning, then they should just drop all pretense at quality coverage and let Bill Maher and Lady Gaga sit on the press truck, as this would at least be entertaining.