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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paris Marathon: Splits and Commentary

Paris Marathon 2012: Live coverage, splits and comment

Stanley Biwott has won the 2012 Paris Marathon to kick off the spring marathon season, and it has started the same way that 2011 left off - with a course record 2:05:11 (unofficial, from TV times).  Biwott, who came into the race with a 2:07:03 PB, broke clear as early as 29km, when the group thinned dramatically and he was left with a solo pursuit for the finish line.

At that stage, he was on course for a sub-2:04 finish, courtesy a super fast first half (1:01:51), and an even quicker section from 25km to 30km (14:24 for the interval).  That surge, off that pace, saw a group of about ten become three within minutes, and soon after, Biwott went clear of his Ethiopian rivals Assefa and Jisa.

From that moment, it was Biwott against the clock, and though he slowed (15:30 from 30 to 35km, though I must confess I'm not confident in the splits I was getting on TV), the damage had been done and Biwott hung on to break the course record of 2:05:47 by 36 seconds, and smash his own PB by just under 2 minutes.

Behind, there were big gaps. Having been bunched at 25km, the time gaps illustrate how attritional the early pace was. First to second was 1:12, a gap created entirely in the final 12km.  Tenth place was over 2:09, so that's almost 5 minutes over the final 15km.  The closest athlete to an even split was Biwott, who went through halfway in 1:01:51, and closed in 1:03:20:  For everyone else in the top 10, the second half was over 3 minutes slower than the first.

Just as testament to the emergence of talent in these big city marathons, the man who finished third, Jisa, came into the race with a reported half-marathon PB of 64:33.  He ran 2:06:26 today, which means a 61:51 first half, followed by a 64:35 second half.  In other words, he basically equalled his previous half-marathon PB during the second half of a marathon, in which he broke it by almost three minutes in the first half.  Talk about a breakthrough day!

So a course record in Paris to go with course records galore in 2011, and now it's Rotterdam, and Mosop's (and other Kenyan's) assault on the world record!)

Comments and splits at 5km intervals are below...

Live splits as the race unfolded

The Paris Marathon kicks off what was recently called "8 days for Glory" by our Letsrun.com colleagues!  That's a reference to what could be one of the greatest weeks in the history of the marathon, driven by the intense competition between the Kenyans to nail down one of three spots on the Olympic team for London.  Either side of the Atlantic, the greatest marathon runners in history will be tackling, in order, Paris, Rotterdam, Boston and London.

Paris is first, and below are the splits and comments from the men's race.  Rotterdam comes later, and it has the better field with Moses Mosop touted to challenge the world record.  That race is not televised in SA, but I'm looking into live streams (which usually don't work in South Africa either!), but no matter what, I'll post those splits later today!

Paris splits

5km - 14:56

Conservative start by today's marathon standards, but that's probably par for the course in Paris - the field has some good names, but not the spectacular sub-60 min half marathoners or the 2:04-marathon men of the other races.  Paris has often been a springboard for first time big city marathon winners, and it's not a major, so perhaps the course record of 2:05:47 is a good target for today.  Although, there is a 2:05:25 man in Albert Matebor, but it's a sign of the times that we view him as "only" a 2:05 man in this era of marathon running!

10km - 29:21 (14:25 for the last 5km)

Super fast five kilometer split, which puts the projected pace below 2:04, so that is interesting.  Certainly we're seeing aggressive marathon running more and more.  Whether this is sustainable, we shall see!

15km - 43:58 (last 5km in 14:37)

Still very aggressive, a group of about 12 or 13, which doesn't include defending champion Benjamin Kiptoo, who dropped off at about 11km.

Half-Marathon - 1:01:51

The halfway split projects a 2:03:42, so it's not slowing down.  Yet.  The group is thinning out, down to about 10 men now, including three pace-makers still.  Some of the men have just run half-marathon PBs by more than 2 minutes, on route to running a marathon!  If wheels are going to come off, they'll start slowing now...

25km - 1:13:40 (29:42 last 10km)

The pace has slowed somewhat and it's now on course for a 2:04:20.  Two of the pacemakers are also gone, and the pace is at something of a dangerous crossroads, and may continue to slide to below 2:05 pace.

30km - 1:28:04 (14:24 for the last 5km)

The pace has increased again, and it's caused big splits in the lead pack.  In fact, it's now down to only one - Stanley Biwott, who is running towards a sub-2:04 again.  His projected time at 30km is 2:03:52, but he's now all alone with 12km to go.

Eric Ndiema has gone off the back.  He ran 2:06:07 in Amsterdam last year. Tariku Jefar, winner in Houston this year (2:06:51) is also losing contact with the lead group.  The final pacemaker dropped out at about 28km, and it became a race between three men over 12km.   Those mean were Biwott of Kenya, against Jisa and Assefa of Ethiopia.  Jisa is the man who came into the race with a reported half-marathon PB of 64:33, and he has improved that by almost 3 minutes, and is still running at 30km!

Just short of 30km, Stanley Biwott, who won the Paris Half Marathon, has moved clear and split the three.  Jisa is in second, about 20m back at the 30km, with another 30m to Assefa in third.

35km - 1:43:34 (last 5km in 15:30)

The pace has now slowed considerably - the last 5km in 15:30 is easily the slowest of the race.  So perhaps not surprisingly, the solo effort off the very fast pace is taking its toll.  Biwott still leads, the gap to Jisa in second is now around 30 seconds (a guess), so the race really has exploded since 25km.  That when the pace was ramped by to 14:24 for the 5km interval, off a pace much, much faster than all the men had ever run, so it is no surprise that having been bunched at 25km, there are now 2 minute gaps there!

The bigger challenge may come from those in third and fourth, Assefa and Cesar, who are together and chasing Jisa.  Stanley Biwott, incidentally, has a PB of 2:07:03, so he's looking at 2 to 3 minutes' improvement today.  If he can hang on for 7km.  At the current pace of 3:06/km, he'll come home in a 2:05:30

40km - 1:58:10 (last 5km in 14:36)

Biwott has now sped up, but I must confess I'm skeptical about the accuracy of these splits.  Nevertheless, the time at 40km is 1:58:10, and it means that Biwott can close in 6:30 and he'll run a mid-2:04, and so the course record in Paris is definitely going to fall, and now it is a race for Biwott to see if he can claim the world-leading time for 2012.  That's currently 2:04:23 from Dubai...

Behind him, Jisa is continuing to run an incredible race, and he's locked in a battle with Assefa for second.  Eric Ndiema has done a yo-yo, first catching and passing those two, and then being caught and passed with 3km to go.  He then fought back and reclaimed second at about 41km.

Finish line - 2:05:11

Biwott gets the course record, but not the sub-2:05 that seemed on at 40km.  He definitely slowed considerably, it was visible even on the coverage that he was grinding out the final kilometers, and he closed in 7 minutes.  Nevertheless, it's a course record by 36 seconds, a PB by almost 2 minutes, and a good start to the spring season.

Rotterdam later, join me after that one!  Not sure I'll be able to do live splits, but I'll certainly get something up later today