April 18, 2011

Stop the Presses! Skinny Kenyan Guy Wins Boston Marathon

From the NYT:
Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever Monday in capturing the 115th Boston Marathon. Taking advantage of ideal weather conditions — a brisk tailwind and cool temperatures — Mutai finished the hilly, 26.2-mile course in 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds, edging his countryman Moses Mosop by four seconds.

Here's my article from 2000,  Kenyan Runners: Nurture or Nature?


Out of the last 20 Boston Marathons, Kenyan men have won 17, Ethiopians two, and a South Korean one. And the marathon isn't really the Kenyans' best distance. They seem to be most dominant at about an order of magnitude shorter, such as 3000 meters. On the other hand, the Kenyans specialize in the Boston Marathon -- it's their Olympic marathoning team trial in Olympic years, so just looking at the Boston results gives an exaggerated view of Kenyan dominance of marathoning. The true Kenyan superiority is at middle-long distances, not the marathon.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

There was a discussion on sports talk radio this morning about why nobody cares about the Boston Marathon anymore. The reason is simple: that same guy wins every year.

Wolf said...

Shocking news! Actually what I do find fairly shocking is that an American white guy, Ryan Hall, finished fourth in a Kenyan-esque 2:04:58.

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama of Kenyan background ran the fastest race to the presidency ever. Taking advantage of ideal political, economic, and cultural conditions — financial meltdown, weak opponent, Jewish money and control of media — Obama wrapped up victory 2 months before the actual election.

Anonymous said...

"The reason is simple: that same guy wins every year."

Yes, nothing says Patriot's Day like some African anorexic defeating America's best and woefully under-trained marathon runners.

Actually, the purse for this race is pathetic, but Geoffrey Mutai and his clan will dine like royalty on free energy bars and Gatorade for the next year.

Flavia said...

I see that Mutai, the winner, was wearing Green Adidas sneakers. So all we need to do is get some of those sneakers to other runners so that they may win. Or perhaps it was his green tank top? I will try to get to the bottom of this conundrum.....

Camlost said...

What about the story of the Kenyan who was awarded a distance running scholarship to an American college by mistake, despite never having run a race in his life?

He realized the great situation that he had and really busted his hump to start training right away, and became a college-level runner very quickly. (even though he never became an elite champion)

jody said...

they said there was too much wind so it won't count as the world record.

i don't know much about marathons so i don't understand how they decide what course can count for the record, let alone how they measure wind and determine what is legal on such a long, variable course.

ryan hall has been a world class marathoner for 3 or 4 years, he's getting close to the top guys. he finished 8th i think at the olympic marathon in 2008.

i think the US trials for 2008 was when the best american had a heart attack and died after like only 6 miles. running guys were thinking he was gonna be as good as ryan hall is now. i don't remember that guy's name though.

i'm training to crew again for the leadville 100 mile race in august. boy, it sucks.

Wolf said...

I know why the Kenyan won.....it's because he ran to school every day as a child...yeah that's the reason!

Richard said...

@jody - It doesn't count as a world record because the race was a net downhill run, something like -400 feet over the entire course.

Nanonymous said...

On the other hand, the Kenyans specialize in the Boston Marathon -- it's their Olympic marathoning team trial in Olympic years, so just looking at the Boston results gives an exaggerated view of Kenyan dominance of marathoning.

They specialize in all other Marathon majors, just don't dominate quite as much as in Boston. For the most recent events in marathon majors:

Berlin: Kenya 10 out of 20, East Africa 14/20
Boston: Kenya 17/20, EA 19/20
Chicago: Kenya 10/20, EA 10/20
NY City: Kenya 8/20, EA 10/20
London: Kenya 9/20, EA 10/20
Olympics: Kenya 1/5, EA 2/5
IAAF World Championships: Kenya 4/4

Top 10 times ever: Kenya 9/10, EA 10/10

Anonymous said...

How are those Kenyans at NBA basketball?

Anonymous said...

But don't they tell us race is just a social construct?

Toadal said...

Nanonymous said..


Berlin: Kenya 10 out of 20, East Africa 14/20
Boston: Kenya 17/20, EA 19/20
Chicago: Kenya 10/20, EA 10/20
NY City: Kenya 8/20, EA 10/20
London: Kenya 9/20, EA 10/20
Olympics: Kenya 1/5, EA 2/5
IAAF World Championships: Kenya 4/4


Last year, I used evidence like this to point out East African genes just might have had helped the San Francisco Bay to Breakers winner on SFGate.com. Yet, while readers agreed with me 5 to 1, my comment was still deleted. It is likely this year, San Franciso Chronicle editors will continue to uphold their moral duty to keep the people misinformed in matters of biology.

Anonymous said...

Is Obama more like a sprinter or a long distance runner? Or something in between? Most black politicians are like sprinters. They are loud and intense but get weary fast. Obama has some of that intensity but he knows how to pace himself to go farther.
On the other hand, he was very much favored(juiced)by the powers-that-be and rose so fast that it's difficult to see him as a genuine political marathoner(which Reagan was). Things were made easy for him.

I think Obama's skills can best be understood in comparison to winter sports, especially SKIING. Obama knows how to glide and make the right moves to go fast and very far. And consider the snow is white. It's like Obama read the psychological terrain of white folks and figured out a way to ski down to victory. A downhill skiier, unlike a runner, doesn't have to exert himself. He only needs to know the right moves and angles. And he knew not to make 'sudden moves' when skiing on the hopess and fears of white folks.

Malcolm in the middle Gladwell said...

Must've been that 10,000 hours of training.

Anonymous said...

Dammit! It should've been me- a short white girl with "attributes". One of these days... For now, I'm mighty proud of my 4 hours.

Actually, they should adjust the whole thing and give me that trophy.
1. The fat deposits on the top and the bottom of my hourglass are inherent to my gender and ethnic roots. They should be counted as a weight vest, and time should be subtracted from my results accordingly. Otherwise, the whole thing is sexist and ethnocentric.

P.S. And don't tell me to go run the stupid girl marathon! I want it to be publicly acknowledged that I won the REAL one.

2. This measurement of who won the marathon is clearly biased against my kind. Not only am I generally short, but I'm also short legged. This significantly and unfairly limits shortens my stride. It only makes sense to judge by overall effort and hardship the competitor went through. Since I have to switch feet much faster than the hight -privileged to cover similar distance in simlarish time, it's criminal to proclaim the winner one who simply came in first in real time. Obviously, the speed with which i change my feet should be adjusted to reflect the burden of the heritage I carry on my thighs.
Thank you.

How much money are we talking anyway?

Maya

Anonymous said...

You want to see a badass track and field video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM5A1K6TxxM

(BTW, this was pretty top level competition and a very short race. So really an incredible result. Of course Heather was the national champ at the 800...)