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Friday, April 19, 2013

London 2013 Marathon: Conference, race and upcoming coverage

London 2013: Back to the roads for one of the great races, and a scientific conference

I write this from London, sitting in a hotel overlooking the Tower Bridge and the halfway mark in Sunday's London Marathon.  I am here for that Marathon, at the invitation of the Marathon Medicine 2013 Conference, and will be presenting on Saturday at their annual marathon conference.

The conference programme is short, but specific to the event, and looks very interesting, so I'm looking forward to it.  The programme is as follows:

FIT TO DROP: INFECTION AND IMMUNITY IN THE ENDURANCE RUNNER  Professor Neil Walsh PhD, Director Extremes Research Group, School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK

EFFICACY OF POST-EXERCISE COLD WATER IMMERSION: IMPLICATIONS FOR ATHLETE RECOVERY AND ADAPTATION Dr Warren Gregson PhD, Senior Physiologist, Football Performance & Science Department, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar and Reader in Applied in Exercise Physiology, The Football Exchange & Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

RICE, PRICE OR POLICE? OPTIMAL LOADING AND ICE IN INJURY MANAGEMENT  Dr Chris Bleakley PhD, Lecturer in Sports Studies, Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, University of Ulster, Ulster, UK


Dr Doug Casa PhD, Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Korey Stringer Institute, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, USA

FATIGUE, INVISIBLE BARRIERS, PHYSIOLOGICAL LIMITS AND PERFORMANCE: THE ROLE OF THE BRAIN IN PERFORMANCE PHYSIOLOGY  Dr Ross Tucker PhD, Honorary Senior Lecturer, UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Unit, and Consultant Scientist, Sports Science Institute of South Africa, SA 

I will certainly put my own presentation on the website once I've given it (perhaps Monday or Tuesday, with some notes to explain it), and I'll do my best to bring you the highlights from the other speakers.

The London marathon experience - anyone offering race coverage?

Then of course, being here at the invitation of the London Marathon, I'm fortunate enough to be staying in the official race hotel, so it has been a great opportunity to take in the race build-up. Unfortunately I missed the elite men's press conference earlier this week, but it's been building towards Saturday, and should be a great race. And I'm not sure exactly how I'll be watching the race on Sunday - if anyone from the media is reading this, and you have a tip on how to get onto the official race convoy where it is possible to watch the entire race live, let me know! I'll forever be in your debt!

Speaking of, if anyone is here from the media, it would be great to meet, put a face to a name from all our interaction in the last few years, so even if I can't follow the race live, let me know and perhaps we can share a warm English beer in coming days!

London 2013: Men preview

As for the race itself, as usual, London has gathered the world's best.  They have nine sub-2:05 men in the race, and that doesn't even include the current Olympic Champion.  Gold, silver and bronze from the Games are here, three former winners including the last three champions.  The world record holder, second, fourth and sixth fastest in history are in the race, and of course Geoffrey Mutai (4th on that list) has the fastest ever recorded time, though it was in Boston with a howling tailwind.

Here are the big 10:

1 Wilson Kipsang KEN 2:03:42 (defending champion)
2 Patrick Makau KEN 2:03:38 (world record holder)
3 Geoffrey Mutai KEN 2:04:15 (world marathon majors champion)
4 Ayele Abshero ETH 2:04:23
5 Tsegaye Kebede ETH 2:04:38 (2010 champion)
6 Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:04:40 (2011 champion)
7 Feyisa Lilesa ETH 2:04:52
9 Stanley Biwott KEN 2:05:12
11 Deressa Chimsa ETH 2:05:42
12 Stephen Kiprotich UGA 2:07:20 (Olympic champion)

Then the other sub-plot is the "debut" of Mo Farah in London, though he will run only to halfway which has been requested at around 61:45.  That is world record schedule, though I would be surprised if it comes off.

Whenever a field this strong is together, and the incentive to win is large, then the racing tends to compromise the overall pace.  Last year, for instance, the pace through halfway was a decent 62:12, and then Wilson Kipsang, inspired perhaps by the crossing of Tower Bridge, attacked and dropped a 14:09 5km split which destroyed his rivals but also put paid to any chances of the record, though he held on for an incredibly impressive time of 2:04:44.  The real story was the time gaps his surge created, and a strong field (London always is) was minutes behind, with the best in the world staggering home.  One example was Abel Kirui, one of the only men to track Kipsang's surge, who covered the final 2.2km in 8:33 to finish sixth.

The other possible scenario is that the pacemakers will set the race up perfectly, perhaps all the way to 30km, but then the games begin and nobody will want to take up a world record pace when accompanied by five or six other men.  The result may be that it drops off in preparation for the final 5km.

Either way, the point is, if the men race, then the record will usually (though not always) be lost in the battle.  Let's hope that Sunday produces a similarly exciting battle and with fast times. 

The weather is often a factor.  I can tell you that having arrived yesterday, I went for a run along the last few kilometers of the marathon route, and have just returned to the hotel having done the same, and the final 8km have been into a stiff wind.  Unless that dies down or changes direction, it will also prevent records.  Temperature wise, it's been perfect but that wind along the Thames as the race heads towards Big Ben will cost valuable time.

Regardless, with a field that strong, it will be a great race, and I look forward to bringing you more over the weekend!  Right now, off to the official London Marathon Reception function.  

From London,