Sunday, August 23, 2009

Open Thread: Berlin Women's Marathon

UPDATE: This turned out to be an interesting race, but I have mixed feeling about the result of the Ethiopian team. Aselefech Mergia, who first came to prominence by winning the Great Ethiopian Run in Addis few years ago, turned in an outstanding performance. Aselefech won a bravely fought bronze medal running 2:25:32 which is only 30 seconds off of her PR. Considering it is very rare to run a PR in a championship race, it is clear that Aselefech ran to her full potential.

Now as for the rest of the team, one can at best say they underachieved, keeping with the ongoing pattern in Berlin for the week. Dire Tune fell down after 25K but was able toget up and continue with the run. It is not clear if she sustained injury that impacted her performance.

However, there must be a different explanation for subpar performance of the team as a whole.The coaches and administrators need to take an honest assessment of the entire program including themselves and work to root out the cause of such a mediocre result being turned in by young and talented runners. If anyone needs convincing that there is indeed a systemic problem with the Ethiopian program, simply review the result from today’s race: among the top 15 finishers, China placed FOUR runners, Russia and Japan had three each, USA had two, and Ethiopia had one.

This race is somewhat open as leading women marathoners Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain and Irina Mikitenko of Germany are out of the competition. Ethiopia brings a group of young marathoners who have won big city marathons but with little or no championship experience. Dire Tune, past winner at Boston and Houston, leads the group that includes Bezunesh Bekele, Atsede Bayisa, Aselefech Mergia, and Robe Guta. All of them have PRs in the low 2:20 range have the ability to win the race.

Look for Dire Tune and Bezunesh Bekele to lead the charge with their determined type of racing they showed in Boston this year. Tune actually passed out at the finish line of Boston having fought hard to the end and being beat right at the line. As the Ethiopian men yesterday, I have high hopes for this young group which are the future of Ethiopian marathoning. Ethiopian women so far have not fared well in Berlin and the marathon represents one of the last two opportunities to win gold in this final day of competition in Berlin.

Other runners to watch are Kara Goucher of USA, Chunxiu Zhou of China, and Yoka Shibui of Japan.

My picks: 1- Bezunesh Bekele 2- Dire Tune 3- Chunxiu Zhou


roocha said...

Half-way through in 1:13 and change. Large group in the lead pack with all Ethiopians except Aselefech Mergia.

roocha said...

Correction: Mergia is still up front with the large group. Dire Tune falls down but back up and going. Still with the group.

roocha said...

Pace quickens at 30K and all of a sudden leading group is down to 5. Only Mergia there.

roocha said...

35km at 2:01:04. Lead group down to three. Aselefech Mergia still there and looking great!!

roocha said...

Mergia now at the front and pushing to break away!!!

roocha said...

Mergia dropped right at 40k. Now struggling to maintain third place.

roocha said...

Aselefech Mergia hangs tough for 3rd and nearly collapses at the finish. Gutsy!! #Ethiopia gets bronze, China gets 1-4-5.

yekolotemari said...

I was criticized for pointing out the lack of depth during the Beijing Olympics. Ethiopia lacks depth and most importantly up and coming dominant young runners. We are in for a long ride. I see no sign of any superstar juniors. I see good runners in Genzebe, Sule, Ali Abdosh, Kalkidan but no dominant runners. The women's 5k was a heart break. Although Meseret was not at her best, I feel there was no one else to pick up the slack. Scary to imagine the Ethiopian team without Kenenisa, Dibaba, and, Defar

roocha said...

Mergia 3rd, Bekele 16th, Tune 23rd, Baysa 27th, Guta dropped out. In top 15, China had 4, Russia 3, Japan 3, USA 2, Ethiopia 1.

Anonymous said...

Kenenisa wins!!!!

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