Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

Consider a donation if you like what you see here!

Did you know?
We published The Runner's Body in May 2009. With an average 4.4/5 stars on Amazon.com, it has been receiving positive reviews from runners and non-runners alike.

Available for the Kindle and also in the traditional paper back. It will make a great gift for the runners you know, and helps support our work here on The Science of Sport.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boston Marathon preview

Boston on the horizon: Wind at the backs, another Mutai win?

After yesterday's spectacularly fast London Marathon, there is more in store today as the rest of the world's elite hit Boston in the 115th running of the world's oldest annual marathon.

The weather forecasts for Boston give reason for optimism for fast times.  Below is an image taken from this Letsrun article, and it shows that the forecast for Boston is about as good as one can possibly expect - cool, with a following wind that, because of Boston's point to point orientation, is basically from behind the whole way (click to enlarge)

That has led to speculation about what the elite field might be able to achieve, some even predicting a time faster than 2:03:59.  It must be pointed out that this would not be recognized as a new world record, because of Boston's point to point course, but it may make for some spectacularly quick times, or splits at the very worst.

Last year in Boston, Robert Cheruiyot achieved what no one thought possible - a sub 2:06 clocking when he scorched the relatively tough course on route to a 2:05:52.  It included an exceptional second half of 62:25 that includes the Newton Hills, and it was a performance that many suggested was worth something in the 2:03-range on one of the faster marathons around the world.  You can read our recap of that race here, just to get in the mood for later.

I can't quite see a sub 2:04, regardless of wind, but if that tailwind does deliver, then we may well see a new course record, particularly given the strength of the field - in addition to Cheruiyot, there is Geoffrey Mutai and Gebre Gebremariam, two exceptionally strong runners, who I'd make favourites ahead of Cheruiyot.  My picks would be Gebremariam to win, Mutai in second, with either Cheruiyot or debutant Moses Mosop in third.

The women's race was also exceptional last year, a real race to the line between Erkesso and Pushkareva.  Last year Erkesso did a "Keitany", in that she went hard very early and built up a big lead.  What she didn't do is hold it all the way, and Pushkareva almost caught her before losing out by 3 seconds in the final straight!  Boston has in fact produced incredible races in the last few women's events, and this year should be no different.

For race previews and to learn who the main protagonists are, check out the Men's Preview and the Women's Preview, courtesy Letsrun.com

As is now "tradition", we'll do a live post throughout the race, updating a table with splits and projected times, as well as 'play-by-play' commentary and thoughts from the race.  So if for any reason you can't get to a TV, do join us later for coverage!  (Assuming Universal Sports' feed works - it wouldn't be the first time I fail to see a marathon as a result of problem...but will do my best!)