The ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6 gave us two truly exciting races in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Three runners shattered—and I mean shattered—the course record in the men’s competition. And one runner gave a guts-on-the-floor performance that likely cost her the race in the women’s competition. Scroll down for athlete interviews, stats and more as I was ringside in the Timex Media Center at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Columbus Circle, giving a behind the scenes play-by-play of what it’s like in the press room as a New York Road Runners Social Media Reporter. Here’s how it went:
2011 ING New York City Marathon Live Blog
8:30 am: Good morning! I’m here in the Timex Media Center at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City. We are one minute away from the wheelchair start of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon!
8:38 am: Here in the media center, we’re watching the race on 5 jumbo screen TVs, each with a different live feed: the men’s race, men’s leaderboard, women’s race, women’s leaderboard and the central TV with the live NBC coverage of the race.
8:40 am: The wheelers are off and climbing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn. Having run this race three times I can tell you this–it’s a long one mile-climb up and a then a delightful sail down into Brooklyn, where some big crowds are waiting.
8:43 am: Under the 5 jumbo TVs are 10 smaller table-top screen that duplicate all the various live feeds. The media center is slowly filling up. We’ve got journos from Universal Sports, New York Times, Running Times, Runner’s World, USATF, and lots of other organizations.
8:51 am: Since we’ve got so many live feeds, the TVs have no sound. New York Road Runners has an official announcer who shouts out (well, not shouts–he has a microphone) info of interest to the press. He just gave us an official welcome!
8:57 am: We have sound on the NBC feed. It must be race time soon! The professional women go off at 9:10 a.m.
9:05 am: Just had a chat with Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports @JoeBattaglia1. He’s got his eye on the two Mutais in the men’s race: Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Mutai, both of Kenya. With just one men’s marathon spot left on the Kenyan 2012 Olympic team, it should be a hot battle.
9:08 am: The professional women are on the starting line. While NBC is showing an interview with Mark Messier, our women’s race feed shows the pros getting introduced. They’re starting in just two minutes!
9:10 am: The pro women are off!!
9:16 am: The media center is packed now. It’s a sea of computers and low-buzzing conversation. Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports is paying special attention to Mary Keitany of Kenya and Kim Smith of New Zealand, who after dropping out of the Boston Marathon in the spring still needs an Olympic qualifying time.
9:19 am: Our friendly NYRR announcer gives up updates during commerical breaks in the NBC coverage, though we can still watch the race on the live feeds. His latest update gave us the celebrity runners in the race: Apolo Ohno, Jennie Finch, Mark Messier, and Edison Pena among others.
9:29 am: The women just passed the 5K. We’re waiting for the official split here in the media center. Mary Keitany of Kenya is out running in front with a 12 second lead, the announcer just told us.
9:31 am: Keitany finished third in the 2010 ING NYC Marathon, but won the 2011 Virgin London Marathon. She’s running crazy fast right now!
9:36 am: At 4 miles Keitany was 27 seconds ahead of the lead pack. Her split: 20:35. Is she going to pay for this later??? Or is she going to just run a one-woman show for 26.2 miles?
9:40 am: Just got chills watching an amazing women’s race already unfolding! Marathon Sunday has got to be one of my favorite days of the year!
9:43 am: All eyes here in the media center are on the center screen as the men’s pro field is announced. So many heavy hitters.
9:44 am: The men are on the starting line, the national anthem has been sung, and they’re off!
9:45 am: The first wave of “regular” runners goes off with the professional men as Frank Sinatra croons “New York, New York” over the loud speaker.
9:48 am: Ah, I’m so excited for all those runners out there. Being here in the media center is pretty cool, but there’s nothing like being one of those 47,000 runners on the course. I’ve done it 3 times and I hope to do it many more times.
9:51 am: Poll: Who are you most excited to watch in this race?
Pro Athletes (60%)
9:55 am: The men are still running in a pack, unlike the women where Keitany has lengthened her lead by over a minute. Lots of eyes on the TV screens here in the media center.
10:02 am: All of the usual faces are in the men’s lead pack: Meb Keflezighi of the U.S., Geoffrey Mutai and Emmanuel Mutai, both of Kenya, Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia and 15 other guys running in the lead pack.
10:07 am: There’s a perpetual buzz here in the media center. Everyone is talking Mary Keitany. There are about 100 journos here, most with laptops popped open watching and typing away.
10:10 am: The chase pack of women who will try to catch Keitany have fallen to five women almost an hour into the race. They’ve got another full hour and then some of running ahead of them.
10:12 am: Poll: Do you think Mary Keitany will keep her lead for the win?
10:17 am: Just checked in with Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports. I asked him if Mary Keitany is going run away with the win: “Yes,” he said. “Unequivocal, yes.” He thinks she’ll come in around 2:16, which would be a course record!
10:20 am: Keitany is the half-marathon world record holder. She crossed the half-marathon mark here in 1:07:56, just two minutes slower than her world record.
10:25 am: Just had a chat with Jaime Harris of New York Amsterdam News. He’s following the men’s race with an eye on Meb Keflezighi in particular. His take on Keitany? She’s looking strong and is going to win without a doubt in course record time.
10:28 am: The wheelchair races are all wrapped up! Masazumi Soejima of Japan wins the men’s race and Amanda McGrory of the U.S. (and from my home state of Illinois!) clinched the women’s race in course record time of 1:50:24 (unofficial).
10:28 am: In the men’s race, Meb Keflezighi is in second place at the 9 mile mark. Meb won in 2009. Can he do it again? It’s a tough field.
10:33 am: I wonder what it’s like to run all by yourself for an ENTIRE marathon like Mary Keitany has done this whole race. Wow.
10:36 am: The men’s lead pack is down to nine men. Meb Keflezighi is still in it, as is last year’s winner Gebre Gebremariam and favorites Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya.
10:37 am: Keitany makes the turn off the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Having run this race three times, I’ve got to say, that’s the most exciting part of the course. The crowds are insane! In a good way. They will carry you for a solid two miles right up First Avenue into the Bronx.
10:46 am: At Mile 17, Keitany has a lead of 2:05. She’s lost 9 seconds on her lead in each of the last two miles. Her biggest lead was 2:23 ahead at the 15 mile mark. Even if she loses 9 seconds a mile for the rest of the race, she’ll still win with 45ish seconds to spare, but anything can happen!
10:49 am: The men are running under course record pace. Could be a record breaking day here in NYC!
10:54 am: Who is going to win the men’s race? It’s a battle of Champs!
Meb Keflezighi, 2009 NYC Champ (0%)
Emmanuel Mutai, 2011 London Champ (33%)
Gebre Gebremariam, 2010 NYC Champ (0%)
Geoffrey Mutai, 2011 Boston Champ (67%)
10:57 am: Reader Question: I bet the weather is fabulous for a run… As a runner how much does the weather affect a race? I would think all runners would prefer crisp and cool, but do some like it really cold or really hot?
Answer: Weather affects a race a lot. The ideal running weather is between 50 and 55 degrees. Any warmer or colder than that, and your body has to work harder to keep you warm or keep you cool. The fastest times are run in conditions just like today–low 50s and sunny!
10:57 am: Reader Question: Do I recall hearing correctly that NYCM discontinued use of “rabbits”? Does the media center have windows looking out to the Central Park entrance at Mile 26?
Answer: The media center doesn’t have windows and there are NO “rabbits,” aka pacers allowed in the NYC Marathon.
10:58 am: Reader Question: What is the percentage of females in the field of the ~47,000 runners? GO ladies!
Answer: The ING New York City Marathon is 38% women! The 2010 race had a record number of female finishers: 16,155. This year there are 22,340 women entered.
10:58 am: Can’t help think of the late Sammy Wanjiru when you see a guts-on-the-floor performance like Mary Keitany is running today.
11:12 am: Mary Keitany is looking strong. She’s lost some time but she’s hanging tough!
11:18 am: Keitany’s lead is down to a little over a minute with 3 miles to go.
11:20 am: The men’s lead pack is down to seven runners. Meb is still in it at the 19 mile mark!
11:21 am: Mary Keitany just entered Central Park! She’s got about 10 minutes to go!
11:24 am: So much happening. Geoffrey Mutai made a move and dropped a few runners, including Meb.
11:26 am: Keitany has been caught by Deba and and Dado! It’s now a three woman race!
11:28 am: Keitany has pulled ahead again at the 25 mile mark! This looks like it will be a sprint finish!
11:29 am: Geoffrey Mutai has pulled ahead in the men’s race!
11:30 am: Keitany and Dado are running shoulder to shoulder…
11:30 am: Dado has pulled ahead!
11:32 am: Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia is now the clear front-runner, ahead of Keitany
11:33 am: Keitany has dropped to third. Deba is in second.
11:34 am: Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia wins the 2011 ING New York City Marathon! Mary Keitany, who lead with a shocking performance for most of the race, dropped to third.
11:36 am: Dado won the Rome Marathon earlier this year and now she’s got a World Marathon Majors win under her feet. 2:23:15 (unofficial) in NYC.
11:37 am: Well, Dado proved all the journos here in the media center wrong. An hour ago, everyone thought Keitany was going to pull off a coup. But the ING NYC marathon proves once again that it’s a killer course.
11:38 am: Meb is back in second place!! We just got update here in the media center. Geoffrey Mutai is still in first.
11:38 am: Reader Question: Wow – as a non runner I have to ask, how do you keep the lead so long only to lose it in the last minutes…
Answer: It just goes to show that in the marathon anything can happen. It would have been more amazing had Keitany actually won. It’s incredibly rare to lead an entire race like this. Most runners can’t pull it off.
11:42 am: Geoffrey Mutai has a 55 second lead over Tsegaye Kebede and Emmanuel Mutai.
11:43 am: Reader Question: Are Geoffrey and Emmanuel related?
Answer: Great question. No they’re not related! But they are countrymen. Both of them are vying for the last spot on the Kenyan Olympic marathon team in London 2012.
11:45 am: In the women’s race, that was the second closest finish in ING New York City Marathon history. The closest? 2004, when Paula Radcliffe won. Gotta love the announcer in the media center.
11:48 am: Women’s unofficial results: 1) Firehiwot Dado 2:23:15. 2) Buzunesh Deba 2:23:19. 3) Mary Keitany 2:23:19.
11:49 am: Geoffrey Mutai just won the 2011 ING New York City Marathon!
11:51 am: Geoffrey Mutai likely just earned a ticked to the 2012 Olympics for Kenya. He won the 2011 Boston Marathon in a world best time of 2:03:02 (not a world record because Boston is not a world record course).
11:51 am: Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya takes second.
11:52 am: And Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia finishes third. All three of the top runners shattered the course record of 2:07:43.
11:55 am: Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. (and the 2009 champion) finished sixth. Last year’s champion Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia finished fourth.
11:55 am: Each of the top three runners who beat the course record will win a $70,000 bonus! Not too shabby.
11:56 am: All together, Geoffrey Mutai will take home $200,000 today. $130,000 for the win and $70,000 for beating the course record.
11:57 am: Reader Question: Was Meb the first American to finish?
Answer: Yes, Meb was the first American across the finish in the men’s race. Ed Moran of Virginia finished tenth.
11:58 am: Stay tuned for more from the media center! Lots of “everyday” runners and celebs still on the course. Plus, the top three men and women will be having press conferences here in the media center.
11:59 am: With today’s second place finish, Emmanuel Mutai win’s the World Marathon Majors, a 2-year race series that inlcudes the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons.
12:00 pm: I’m stationed in the Timex Media Center at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Columbus Circle. We’re just a few steps from the finish line!
12:03 pm: The men’s wheelchair winner, Soejima Masazumi, just came into the media center!
12:07 pm: Poll: What celeb runners are you most excited about?
Apolo Ohno (20%)
Edison Pena (40%)
Jenny Finch (0%)
Christy Turlington (30%)
Mario Lopez (10%)
Ryan Sutter (0%)
12:29 pm: Just had a quick, 20-minute lunch break. Up here at the Timex Media Center at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Columbus Circle, we are treated to a lovely catered lunch of caprese salad, soba noodle salad, beef tenderloin, salmon, chicken breast and some rather tasty mac-n-cheese.
12:30 pm: Jennie Finch, the last runner to start the race, just passed mile 10.
12:33 pm: Heading off to the press conference with the women’s winners!
12:35 pm: Unlike the main room of the media center, the press conference room has a spectacular view of Central Park from the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
12:35 pm: The top three women have just taken the stage!
12:38 pm: We’ve got Mary Keitany (3rd), Buzunesh Deba (2nd) and Firehiwot Dado (1st).
12:39 pm: Dado has a HUGE smile on her face.
12:39 pm: “It was a tough race and I didn’t expect this result,” Dado says through a translator. “I’m very happy.”
12:41 pm: We’ve got about 50 journos in the room, shooting questions at the runners.
12:42 pm: “When I was going fast, I felt a bit fatigue in my legs,” Keitany says. “My legs got me.” Keitany led the race until the last few minutes when Dado and Deba caught and passed her.
12:45 pm: Deba lives in New York City. One reporter asks if her local knowledge of the course helped her. “Yes, the people is cheering me and that’s good for me. I know the course. I train it two times a week in Central Park.”
12:48 pm: “I felt much more confident when I was running in the Bronx, so if more of the course was in the Bronx I’d be very happy,” Deba says. The room laughs. Deba lives in the Bronx, naturally.
12:51 pm: “It was okay at first because my body was okay,” Mary Keitany says about her early fast pace. “But after the 25K is where I feel the fatigue in my leg. That’s why I slow a bit.” “Maybe if I come next year, my body will be okay. I would run the same. I would not change,” she says about her daring race strategy.
12:55 pm: Apolo Ohno is 2 miles from the finish!
12:57 pm: The women’s winners are leaving the press conference. They’re bringing in the men next!
12:59 pm: Jennie Finch just passed Mile 11…
1:00 pm: Geoffrey Mutai is still wearing his laurel crown in the press conference. “Although I won, it was not easy,” he says.
1:02 pm: Emmanuel Mutai, who finished second, won the World Marathon Majors title today, nabbing a $500,000 prize purse for that series. “Maybe the weather was so favorable today for us,” he says. “I’m happy about it. I tried my best.”
1:05 pm: “The course here was tough, but the weather it was so good,” Geoffrey Mutai says. He adds that he wants to prove to himself that he is the fastest runner in the world (his time from the Boston Marathon is the fastest in the world, but not a world record).
1:08 pm: A question about the fact that the race has no pacers. “In terms of pacing, it is more challenging (without paces),” Emmanuel Mutai says. “A race like New York, you have to have more concentration and use more skill.” He adds: “Because I’m used to being in front always, I don’t care if the race uses pacemakers. Your training matters.”
1:12 pm: We’ve got lots of talk and questions about the Kenyan Olympic team. Right now, there’s potentially only one spot left on the team with both Geoffrey Mutai and Emmanuel Mutai as top contenders for that spot.
1:12 pm: Reader Question: Mutai says it takes more concentration and skill to run in New York. What about Boston or Chicago?
Answer: He says it takes more skill in New York because the race doesn’t allow pacers, runners who set a pace for the leaders and then drop out later in the race. Any race without pacers is tougher for the pros.
1:17 pm: A question about the late Sammy Wanjiru for Tsegaye Kebede. “Last year in Chicago we had a very stiff competition between him and me (Wanjiru),” Kebede says. “I prefer not to think or talk a great deal about him. When I think about the way he passed away, it disturbs me and makes me sad.” Wanjiru, the reigning Olympic champion, died in a fall from a second-story balcony earlier this year.
1:18 pm: Official finish time for Apolo Ohno: 3:25:14!
1:23 pm: About breaking the world record: “If it was another course, maybe I was to do it (break the world record),” Geoffrey Mutai says. “If I get another chance to go to another race that is a world record course, maybe I can do it.” His last race was Boston, which is not a world record course, and New York is considered too difficult a course for a world record to be set here. Flatter courses like Berlin, Rotterdam and even Chicago would be more favorable.
1:24 pm: That’s it for the top 3 men. Off they go from the media center.
1:27 pm: Now the Americans are in the press room! “To run a PR at 36, in new shoes, I couldn’t be happier,” says Meb Keflezighi, who finished 6th. He won the race in 2009.
1:30 pm: Meb says he stopped during the race to “puke.” A question from Amby Burfoot of Runner’s World for Meb: “It’s not a perfect day when you have to stop and puke,” Burfoot says. “Tell us about it.” Meb’s answer: “I was going through good patches and bad patches. I was going through a bad patch when I had to stop (at mile 22). Even if I have to walk, I’ll get there, I said to myself. It’s not always about winning. It’s about getting the best from yourself.”
1:35 pm: Kathrine Switzer asks a question about Meb’s training. He ran a PR at the age of 36 in his seventh New York City Marathon. Meb says he changed his nutrition a bit—adding more protein, and he’s now the thinnest he’s ever been. He’s been training 125-126 miles, and he credits his mid-foot strike, versus heel strike too. For the first time in 14 years, he says, he’s not wearing orthotics.
1:35 pm: Reader Question: Great job Karla. Would you say the weather is perfect for the runners?
Answer: Yes, the weather was just about perfect for marathoning: sunny, temps in the low 50s and little wind to speak of.
1:38 pm: “It’s the most fun you can have on a Sunday!” Molly Pritz says about her marathon debut.
1:40 pm: Listening to Meb Keflezighi in the post-marathon press conference. He really is an inspiration! I hope I PR at 36!
1:42 pm: The secret to Meb’s success? “The key to success is preparation,” Meb says. “We do a lot of 400-meter repeats, 800-meter repeats.”
1:42 pm: That’s it for the Americans. Stay tuned for more from the media center as the celeb runners start rolling in!
1:47 pm: Alright, I’m back at my station in front of the live feed. There’s a couple who got married on the course! Awww. My fiance and I actually got engaged right after the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon in October! But I don’t think we’ll have a marathon wedding. Though it would be fun!
1:52 pm: Just found out that Queen Latifah was in the building! Sorry I missed her. She congratulated Lauren Fleshman on her first marathon.
2:07 pm: Reader Question: What’s the latest on that last spot on the Kenyan team?
Answer: No word. It’s up to Athletics Kenya, the Kenyan governing body for the sport, to decide who’s on the team. I don’t know how you pick between the London Marathon and World Marathon Majors champion (Emmanuel Mutai) and the Boston and New York City Marathon Champion (Geoffrey Mutai)!
2:12 pm: Poll: What marathon is on the top of your bucket list?
New York (18%)
2:16 pm: Well, things are winding down here in the media center. Our live feeds have been shut down. Looks like all the reporters are writing their coverage for their publications. Lots of typing going on.
2:27 pm: Here are the men’s race results: 1) Geoffrey Mutai 2:05:06 2) Emmanuel Mutai 2:06:28 3) Tsegaye Kebede 2:07:14
2:28 pm: Women’s results: 1) Firehiwot Dado 2:23:15 2) Buzunesh Deba 2:23:19 3) Mary Keitany 2:23:39
2:33 pm: Here are some celeb unofficial finish times: Apolo Ohno 3:24:15, Christy Turlington Burns 4:20:47, Mario Lopez 4:23:31, Ryan Sutter 3:17:58, Mark Messier 4:14:27.
2:38 pm: Apolo Ohno will be in the media center in about 10 minutes! I got to seem him in action at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where he brought his Olympic medal tally up to 8.
2:44 pm: Here are some ING NYC Marathon fun stats: 33% of entrants are between 40-49. Another 32% are between 30-39. The oldest man running today is 87. The oldest woman is 84.
2:45 pm: 26.8 percent of runners are NYRR members. The rest aren’t. And 56.3 percent are married.
2:47 pm: The most represented countries today (other than the U.S.) are: 1) Italy 3,538 runners 2) France 3,385 runners 3) Germany 2187 runners 4) Great Britain 2,022 runners 5) Netherlands 1,767 runners.
2:49 pm: The marathon has over 8,000 volunteers out there, 2.5 million spectators on the course and 300 million people watching the race globally.
2:49 pm: Just got word that Edison Pena dropped out of the race. Don’t know the details, but he did not finish.
2:52 pm: Here’s a great stat: runners drop 17,000 pounds of clothing near the start of the race. They bundle up to keep warm before the race and then leave clothes behind at the start. NYRR collects the clothing are donates it to local charities.
2:56 pm: How about some $ stats? The 2010 race had an estimated economic impact of $340,000,000. Runners will raise $31 million for charity this year.
2:58 pm: Apolo is in the press room!
3:01 pm: Reader Question: Someone needs to ask Apolo which was tougher… running this marathon, or winning Dancing With The Stars, ha! Seriously, he is a great dancer.
Answer: So what’s tougher? The marathon or Dancing With the Stars? Apolo says: “There’s no comparison. This is way harder.” He laughs.
3:06 pm: “It was amazing,” Ohno says. “I don’t think it gets better than the NYC marathon being my first marathon.”
3:09 pm: Ohno wears a black Subway T-shirt with his hair pulled back in a pony tail.
3:11 pm: Ohno says the mental toughness he learned training for the marathon will help him if he ever decides to make another Olympic run in short track. But he’s not sure he’s going to head back to the ice. He says he’s enjoying his time off.
3:13 pm: “The people were just incredible,” Ohno says about the crowds lining the course. “When I hear people say this is the people’s race, it really is.”
3:14 pm: “I felt pretty good the entire way, actually,” Ohno says about the race. “I was cramping really early. But I wasn’t going to stop no matter what.” He adds with a smile: “I was hurting but that’s OK. I think it’s supposed to hurt.”
3:17 pm: “I always wanted to run a marathon at some time in my life,” Ohno says. But he’s not sure he wants to run another one. “Since I was 10 years old, [I've been] molding myself to make myself the best short-track skater,” Ohno says. “Now all of sudden between three and six months I’ve totally changed that mentality and that training.” He adds: “It’s a totally different type of training.”
3:21 pm: What did Ohno hear on the course that stuck with him? “Somebody said at mile 20: ‘Now THIS is the half-way point.'” So true!
3:22 pm: And Apolo Ohno has left the building!
3:36 pm: Well, that’s it from the Timex Media Center at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon! It was a record-breaking day with two stunning races in both the men’s and women’s competition. Congrats to everyone who ran! Thanks for tuning in.
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