In the March/April issue of NER we gave the following odds on Kara Goucher becoming the first American woman to win Boston since Michigan’s Lisa Larson Weidenbach in 1985.
Kara Goucher: Under 70 minutes in New York: 3-1; slightly over 70 minutes: 5-1; way over: all bets off.
Goucher ran 1:09:03 to place a strong third at the NYC Half Marathon on March 20, just 3-ticks behind NYC Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat. She admits to making a tactical mistake at 10 miles and allowing a three-person breakaway because she was afraid of blowing up. Despite 120 mile training weeks, Goucher exhibited plenty of leg speed as she rallied to pass one woman and just miss Kiplagat.
This was a huge confidence boost with Boston five weeks out and puts the 1:14:02 she ran at the Arizona Half Marathon on Jan. 16 (four months after giving birth to son Colt) firmly in the rear-view mirror.
Emily Raymond is doing an article on regional elite women who’ve given birth and returned to a high level of fitness (with Kara thrown in for good measure) for the July/Aug NER Women’s Issue. Here’s an outtake regarding Boston revealing Goucher’s outlook prior to NYC.
Kara Goucher pre-NYC: “I have a six-month-old son and this probably won‘t be the greatest marathon of my
life. For me, it‘s about
being as ready as I can be and then racing as smart as I can race. That doesn‘t mean I’m saying there‘s no shot I can‘t win. It‘s just being realistic that I’ve
had some more challenges probably than most of the women in that race. I just
have to be realistic of that – that I‘m not going to be in the greatest shape of my life.
To win there, which is something that I want so desperately, it might take a
few cracks at it. So I didn‘t want
that opportunity to pass me by. I didn‘t want to say, ‘well in reality, I need two more
months of training so I’m just not going to go.’ I’m like I want to go and I
want that opportunity because you never know what’s going to happen. And I want
to take advantage of that opportunity. I just didn‘t want to pass it up.”
Kara Goucher blogging post NYC: “Last weekend‘s race
not 100 percent as fit as I could be, and I made one tactical mistake. But I
came away from it pretty happy with myself. The first mile of any race is
always telling. I wasn‘t sure if
I would feel great because of my recent breakthrough in training or flat
because of the 120-mile weeks I‘ve been
logging. Turned out I felt great. And it didn‘t hurt that the pace was honest but not
crazy-aggressive. The first few miles in Central Park were hilly, and I was
happy to see that I seemed stronger on the hills than most of the girls in the
lead pack. That‘s a good
sign, considering I‘m training
for a hilly marathon in Boston.”
There you have it. In her first attempt at Boston, Goucher placed third, just 9-seconds out of first. She seems poised to make another run at the podium. Kara Goucher: 3-1
Providence, RI’s Kim Smith is in superb shape as she approaches Boston. On Feb. 13, the New Zealand Olympian ran the fastest half marathon on North American soil – 1:07:36 – on the heels of running a national record 14:59 for a road 5K in her native New Zealand.
In the 2010 London Marathon – Smith’s first completed marathon – she placed 8th in a national record 2:25:21. Preceding London, Smith ran a “workout” at the New Bedford Half Marathon in mid-March, winning the women’s division in 1:10:52. She returned to New Bedford this March 20, “didn’t push it too hard” and won in 1:09:50.
(Kim Smith at 2011 New Bedford Half Marathon. Photo by FitzFoto)
If not for an uscheduled pit stop on the Queensboro Bridge during last November’s ING New York City Marathon, Smith’s past (Providence College) and present coach, Ray Treacy, believes Smith would have been in the battle for second place. He also asserts she’s in better shape heading into Boston.
“She’s further along and she’s handling the workload a lot easier. She’s handling the 100-plus weeks much easier, she’s handling her tempo runs easier, and she’s able to recover,” said Treacy, who replied when asked if Smith would listen if he asked her to start cautiously at Boston, “I might not tell her to do that.”
Kim Smith: A solid 3-1
Ryan Hall left his coach and his training group last Autumn after a disappointing 1:03:55 at the Philadelphia Half Marathon and a subsequent withdrawal from Chicago. At the US Half Marathon Championships in Houston on Jan. 29, on a course eventual winner Mo Trafeh (1:02:17) deemed “slow,” Hall finished 3-ticks behind the winner. His most recent 1:03:53 from NYC doesn’t inspire confidence but Hall has never entered Boston on the tail of a comet. His performances at Boston exceed whatever transpires in his approach.
In his first outing in 2009, he ran 2:09:40. He was 8-seconds out of second and a shade under a minute behind winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia. Last year, he ran faster still – an American best of 2:08:41 on the Boston course to place 4th. In terms of title contention, however, Hall was left behind at halfway as Merga and newcomer Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot raced to Boylston Street. The result was an incredible 2:05:52 course record by Cheruiyot (the younger).
Hall’s dilemma is this: His 2:06:27 best from London puts him among seven athletes with sub-2:07 credentials, Hall being the only non-African. He’ll be lining up against 2010’s top road racer and winner of the ING New York City Marathon (in his debut), Ethiopia’s
Gebregziabher Gebremariam, defending champion Cheuiyot, 2:04:55 man Geoffrey Mutai…and the list goes on. The odds of Hall reaching the Place & Show positions are much better than the top rung of the podium.
Ryan Hall: 10-1
Desiree ‘Desi’ Davila is a testamount to the value of the self-sufficient elite training camps that sprang up in this country to counteract the doldrums of American distance running in the late 1980s through the ’90s. One such enterprise emerged in Michigan in 1999, fronted by brothers Keith and Kevin Hanson.
Davila made her marathon debut at Boston in the wake of a Nor’easter in 2007. She ran a Trials qualifying (2:47) 2:44:56. Courtesy of a 2:26:20 run in the warmth of the 2010 Chicago Marathon, she returns to Boston as the fastest US female marathoner from 2010. You can’t miss her in the bright red, yellow, white and black Hanson’s singlet.
Desiree Davila: 5-1