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Monday, October 08, 2007

Who is Patrick Ivuti?

By now you have heard all about the absolutely amazing finishes in both the men's and women's races at this year's 30th La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon. In case you did not, see our post below this one for the details of the races.

When we did our race preview last week, we left him out of the contenders as the field was so deep with champions such as Limo, Cheruiyot, and Gharib as Ivuti's credentials seemed paltry in comparison to his competitors:
  • 5th in Chicago 2005
  • 11th in Amsterdam 2006
  • 5th in Rotterdam 2007
However as we have written about previously, speed counts, and here we overlooked Ivuti's fast pedigree:
  • 2nd at World XC champs 1999 (NOTE: Paul Tergat won this year)
  • 4th at World XC champs 2000
  • 2nd at Word XC champs 2003 (NOTE: Kenenisa Bekele won this year)
  • 59:31 in the 2000 Lisbon half-marathon
  • 4th in 10,000 m at Sydney Olympics (Recall Gebrselassi/Tergat photo finish)
  • 59:27 in the 2007 Rotterdam half-marathon
What should have tipped us off in particular to Ivuti was his 59:27 at the Rotterdam half, which was run just four weeks ago on 9 Sept. His performance there suggests he had incredible form coming into Chicago and, heat or no heat, might have been ready for a breakthrough performance. However given the field of competitors he was up against the smart money was still on someone like Gharib or Cheruiyot or even Limo or Rutto. Innate speed aside, this was a field of proven winners and their cumulative experience trumped someone like Ivuti who had not yet demonstrated he could win even a second tier marathon.

Ivuti: A rising marathon star?
The short answer is, "Perhaps." Given that this was his fourth marathon does not bode entirely well for him. However, in 2005 he finished Chicago with a respectable 2:07:46, again demonstrating his speed. Clearly something went wrong in the months following that performance, though, as he ran only 2:14:23 one year later in Amsterdam, and although he finished 5th at Rotterdam earlier this year his time was a lackluster 2:12:24--slow for a dead flat course such as that one.

To date Ivuti has been inconsistent and his performances are not in the class of his peers from today's race. However, in one fell swoop (ok, he had help from the heat!) Ivuti slayed these giants, and now we will watch with hope and anticipation as this "young" marathon runner takes center stage. We are sure Dave Bedford of the London Marathon is calling already. . .

In other news on the marathon, the organizers closed the course at 11:45 local time due to the heat and directed everyone back to the finishing area. One runner collapsed around mile 18 and was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed on Monday, 8 October, so check back for updates on the cause of death.