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The 2012 London Olympic Games came to a conclusion on August 12th.
In this blog post and episode we’d like to dig a little deeper into the men’s and women’s marathon. The course featured a 2.2 mile stretch along with three turns around an eight mile loop. All in all the course featured ninety turns and some uneven cobblestones.
The women’s marathon was held on August 5, 2012 and featured weather in the 60’s and steady rain. The women ran a steady first half and a strong second half. There was a fierce four-way battle over the final miles and the five-second difference between first and second place was the smallest ever in the Olympic women’s marathon history. Ultimately an Olympic Record was set, seven national records were broken, and sixteen women set personal best finishes.
The gold medal went to Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia with a time of 2:23:07. She is twenty-four years old and was inspired to start running while watching Ethiopian women Gete Wami and Derartu Tulu during the 2000 Olympics. Gelena says this about her sport: “We Ethiopians think marathon is our national sport. Winning a gold in the marathon is very special for me. Marathon is my life.”
The silver medal went to Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya who finished in 2:23:12. She is twenty-eight years old and the 2011 World Championships silver medalist. She has now set her sights on winning the World Championship gold. Jeptoo said, “I hope it will be third time lucky next year in Moscow.” She also added that she will take a break for the remainder of the year before resuming training for the London Marathon next year in April and the World Championships.
The bronze medal went to Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia who finished in 2:23:29 and bettered her PR by 1 ½ minutes. The twenty-nine year old was an unexpected medalist and said this, “I am very happy and tearful because I didn’t expect to get third. My tactics were to be part of the main group and to be close to the leaders. I was frightened until the end because the African runners are very strong. I tried to stay with them, and I did. I am very proud.”
American Shalane Flannigan was 10th and training partner Kara Goucher was 11th. Desiree Davilla dropped out at mile two with a hip flexor injury.
The men’s marathon took place on August 12, 2012 on the same course and featured one hundred and five men. Among them were six runners who had run a sub 2:05 marathon.
The Olympic gold medal went to twenty-three year old Stephan Kiprotich of Uganda with a winning time of 2:08:01. Kiprotich was formerly a relative unknown and is the first Ugandan medalist in a men’s Olympic running event since Munich in 1972. He is the seventh child of poor subsistence farmers and did most of his training in Kenya. He says this about his victory, “There is a time for everything, a time to train and a time to relax. I think today I joined the champions, so I am happy. When the race started I thought the Kenyans would win. I kept in touch and then I thought, ‘Let me move’, so I moved. When we came to within three miles, then I started to go on strongly. I might have been unknown before, but now I am ‘known’, so I am happy I am now a known athlete. Determination is what matters.” Kiprotich returned to Uganda as a national hero.
Thirty year old Abel Kirui of Kenya finished in 2:08:27 and took the silver medal. He started running in primary school and began formal training when he was recruited by the Administration Police. He and teammate Wilson Kipsang worked together during the race and Kirui says this, “I thought I was going to sprint with Kipsang in the final kilometers. Surprisingly, I saw Stephen with us and it was difficult to make a move. He stayed with us for a long time and he made a stronger move in the end. We were closing the gap but couldn’t catch him. I am happy for him. I am happy with my two consecutive world championship gold medals and with my Olympic silver medal. I am grateful for that.”
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang took the bronze medal with a finish of 2:09:37. The thirty year old has a marathon PR of 2:03:42 which makes him the second fastest marathoner of all-time. He said this about his Olympic performance, “To my friend, Stephen Kiprotich, ‘Congratulations’, it was he who won today because in each competition it is the best one that day who wins. The race was very competitive. When you prepare you know who the competitors are but you never know who will win. Today I win, tomorrow you win, that’s competition. In athletics if you really understand how it works, the most you can do is race, and each race is different. I will keep going for the world record. This is my first time at the Olympics and winning bronze at my first Olympics is good.”
Thirty-seven year old American Meb Keflezki took 4th place in 2:11:06 in a hard fought battle. Teammate Ryan Hall ended up walking and leaving the race around mile ten with a hamstring injury and a limping Abdi Abdirahman left the race about two minutes later with a knee injury.
Both Olympic marathon races were inspiring to watch. Congratulations to all the hard-working athletes who competed and made their countries proud.