Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 - End of Year Reviews


The depth in the men’s Marathon is getting deeper and deeper. Back in the 1990s a sub-2:10 result meant a place in the world elite; today, these times aren’t even enough to enter the world top-100...

...In 2010 the top 18 in this event come only from Kenya (10) and Ethiopia (8)... 

...The talk of the season was Ethiopian World record holder (2:03:59 in 2008) Haile Gebrselassie calling it a day following an unfinished New York Marathon in November. But Gebrselassie, who failed another bid at the World record winning in a season’s best 2:06:09 in Dubai in January, quickly reconsidered his emotionally charged decision and decided to continue his career.

Kenya dominates this event with well more than half of the athletes in world top 100 with a huge 59 entries. Ethiopia is a clear second with 28 with Morocco third place with just five.


2010 will be remembered as the year that 
Ethiopia overwhelmed this event. There have been since the 1990's a number of excellent female Ethiopian Marathon runners – Fatuma Roba, Gete Wami and Berhane Adere among others – but they have been brilliant individuals and not part of something that it any way merited an example of "a wave". But now...

Because - even though the very acute observer might have noticed the Ethiopian presence in the Marathon world lists showing an upward trend over the past decade - there was nothing really preparing us for the "tsunami" of 2010. The number of Ethiopian sub-2:26 runners had from 2000 to 2009 been 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 2 – 6 – 8 before now exploding to 18 (!) as of early December!

Actually Ethiopia this year provides over half of the 35 sub-2:26 marathon runners in the World. The distribution looks like this: Ethiopia 18, Kenya 6, Russia 3, Japan and China 2, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Portugal 1!

The age pattern also signals that this is no temporary phenomenon isolated to the year 2010: The 18 Ethiopians average 24 years while the 17 non-Ethiopians average 30 years! Of course in long distance running you can be competitive even into your 40's but the numbers still tell us that the Ethiopians are not likely to disappear from the scene before the others.