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Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013: Live splits, projections and commentary

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon

The 2013 Boston Marathon has been marred by tragic and senseless acts of violence.  Below you will find our race report, which is written live and in real-time during the elite men's and women's races.  During that event, we used terms that are normal for use during sporting events, but which have, in the light of the later tragedy, become insensitive and entirely inappropriate.  We would like to emphasize that this post was written many hours before the tragedy, and we regret the delivery of the post by email and circulation. We have edited the below to remove those words that now may be deemed insensitive.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the many runners, supporters, the BAA and other race and city of Boston personnel who were affected by this act of violenceA historical event has been marred by the actions of the perpetrators, but we are fully confident that the spirit of the race and the marathon will continue to unite and inspire us.

Boston 2013: Splits, projections and in-race commentary

Welcome to our coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Below you'll find splits and thoughts as the races unfolded.  They were won by Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa (2:10:22) and Kenya's Rita Jeptoo (2:26:25).  Both were tactical and overall quite slow, with dramatic changes in the second half.  Enjoy the race as it happened!


Men's Race

Additional thoughts:

From 15km to 20km, the men have resembled a training group on an easy running day. The field is entirely African, with the Ethiopians most prominent at the front. Gebremariam and Lilesa are their big dangers, but Merga is also in the group of nine.  So too are all the favored Kenyans.

At 20km, the elite field has swelled because of the comparatively easy running.  The pace really has dropped and allowed those athletes back in.  This is building to an huge surge from 20 to 30km as the hills hit the field.

At 24km, Watson of Canada is leading, and the pace has been lifted as a result.  The halfway split is slow, however, and projects a 2:09:48, and so we can expect a huge second half.  As with the women, look for a massive negative split.  I'd predict a second half in the range of 63 min, and a 2:07 to win today.  Micah Kogo, making his marathon debut, is the 10km specialist and must be enjoying the way the race has developed.

Just before 30km, the men's race has been shaken up dramatically.  We have helicopter shots of it so we don't know what is happening...typical.  It is being reported that Dixon Chumba of Kenya who has done the damange.  At the bottom of the hills, 11 men were together, and it has been thinned to two.  Chumba and Desisa of Ethiopia are clear.  The field is fragmented behind, but the hills may help keep them in contact.

The group has in fact reformed, at 30km, and we have six men together, with Merga just off the back. That 5km segment from 25km to 30km, taking in the Newton Hills, was covered in 15:28, but the damage was really, at least from the helicopter shot, done in about 1km.

The men have once again settled into a pretty conservative pace.  The group of six are not attacking one another anymore.  The final 5km will be dramatic.  They really have been jogging for much of the race.  We are so used to seeing paced efforts, it's almost funny to watch the shut down as they build to that surge.  I just hope they show the attacks because they will be incredibly aggressive.

The 5km split from 30 to 35km were covered in 15:59, incredibly slow.  Anyone bet that the final 5km could well be done in under 14 minutes?

Yes, as expected, we have missed the start of the surges in the men's race.  Well done Boston Marathon TV production, excellent decision to finally get rid of the split screen at the very moment that one of the race's decisive surges came.  Outstanding.

And of course, we will now wait to see all the top 10 women come in while a good men's race happens somewhere on the streets of Boston.  And people wonder about the waning popularity of road running...

Right, back on it.  At 40km, there are three men together.  Gebremariam, Desisa and Kogo.  The two favorites and the debutant with the most recent track pedigree.  No attacks among the three in the last five minutes.  I'm surprised that the field has been narrowed to only three at this pace, which really is slow (2:10 projected).

Desisa has it.  A break with less than one kilometer to go first shed Kogo and then Gebremariam as they turned left into the final straight.  Kogo recovered to get second, with Gebremariam in a cramping third place.  The winning time was 2:10:21, slow for a relatively cool day given what we have become accustomed to seeing, but a refreshing tactical race.

Women's Race

Additional thoughts:

At 20km, Caballero of Colombia is well clear of the chase pack.  The commentators seem to think that her lead is potentially decisive.  I'm not sure if they are trying to hype it up for the viewers, but it's very obvious that the pack have permitted her the lead.  The pace from 15km to 20km has not even increased, which tells that the gap is there because the elite women don't care to keep it down and are clearly not interested.  The break is clearly under control.  Commentary is missing a good race.

Now Ana Felix of Portugal has assumed the lead.  Similarly, she is only there by "permission" of the elite who I would expect will run the second half in between 70 and 71 minutes.  Any lead less than about 4 minutes at this stage is not enough.  Projected winning time at this stage is 2:28 but the race will be won in 2:25, and the winner will come from the chase pack.

Ana Felix's lead continues to grow, with 12km to run it is about 1 minute.  The elite field have yet to show any desire to attack one another, perhaps waiting for the hills to end.  Her lead with 10km to run will about one minute, and one would expect the top women, attacking one another, to cover that in around 33 to 34 minutes.  Can Felix run a 34 and win?  Time will tell.  Strange that none of the chasing women have shown intent.

Felix's gap is dropping.  With 7km to go it is just over 1 minute.  Major intrigue, the elite field requires 10 seconds per kilometer to make the catch.  The last 5km for Felix was slower (17:42, so 3:32/km), but it did include Heartbreak Hill.  The real action is behind, where Jeptoo has taken the lead and is driving hard.  As I expected, once the elite women woke from their slumber, the gap could fall dramatically.  You can expect 3:15 to 3:20 for the elites, and so Felix's 3:32/km will not be enough.

With 5km to go, it's pretty clear that the catch will happen.  The gap has been cut by almost a minute in the last 4 or 5 km.

Jeptoo has won the race between 35km and 40km with some impressive running.  Having assumed the lead, she stretched it out and dropped first Cherop and then Hailu of Ethiopia.  Her lead is growing all the time, thanks to a 16:56 last 5km.