Using past performance I put together a sheet that would identify the favorites. This is going to be a tactical marathon where one’s Personal Best is not as important as one’s preparation. So predicting is not easy but past performances especially Athens and Osaka could be useful indicators.
On paper the following are the favorites.
1. Catherine Ndereba (KEN)
2. Chunxiu Zhou (CHN)
3. Reiko Tosa (JPN)
4. Xiaolin Zhu (CHN)
5. Paula Radcliffe (GBR)
6. Lidia Simon (ROU)
7. Deena Kastor (USA)
8. Constantina Tomescu (ROM)
The marathon is one of the most unpredictable events but Ndereba has been a solid performer. It would be hard to bet against her. Paula Radcliffe who was suffering from a stress fracture is fit for the race but the edge should go to Ndereba. Look out for the Chinese runners on home turn. Zhou and Zhu were impressive in Osaka which was hot and humid.
As for the Ethiopian runners, Gete Wami and Brehane Adere had skipped the last World Championship. I think that was a big mistake. The heat and humidity of Osaka would have helped them prepare, but the two had some money to chase on the Marathon circuit in cooler climate. Who can blame them? They have a living to make just like me. In April Gete Wami came in second behind Radcliffe in London. I can’t see her beating Ndereba in hot humid Beijing. Last October, Brehane looked like she was overcome by the heat and humidity in Chicago where it was unseasonably hot88F/31C in October but in the last quarter of a mile (400m) she put on a sprint to blow by a Romanian runner that was blowing victory kisses to the crowd. Somehow I think she is our best chance. This would be a great way to cap an amazing career.
The third runner is Boston Champ Dire Tune who had a big DNF in Osaka. Again, her preparation is suspect but having run in Osaka she knows what to expect. Dire Tune is fine runner with lots of untapped potential. It would be wonderful if she stepped up.
My prediction is that Berhane will be in the mix with the Chinese, Japanese, Romanian’s and Ndereba. Look for the home crowd to lift the Chinese runners.
What are your thoughts?