For me, the Olympics is all about the Marathon. A grueling test of the world’s best endurance road runners, nothing beats it. I still remember as a kid, my parent’s not being able to understand how I could sit in front of the TV and watch people run for over 2 hrs. It was one of the few things that actually kept my attention. Who would have thought???
This year, the Rio Olympics Marathon looks set to be a great one to watch with some very talented runners competing for the gold. There are a few great Aussie runners that will be out in the field too, but as history shows, the race will be down to the experienced Kenyans and a very young Ethiopian team. If you are staying up for it, keep an eye out at around 10:30pm on Sunday (AEST).
So let’s see which Aussies are out there first and then I’ll talk about my top 5 chances for gold.
Scott Westcott had all but given up his dream of competing in the Olympics, but his wife talked him into giving the Berlin Marathon one last crack and guess what. He ran an Olympic qualifying time of 2:15.30 two days after his 40th birthday. He nearly got a podium (4th) in the Melbourne Commonwealth games back in 2006 with a time of 2:16.32. With his PB being a time of 2:11.36 back in 2005, he does have experience on his side, although you would imagine his best is behind him.
Michael Shelley was the gold medal winner at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a time of 2:11.15, which was also his personal best. The 32 year old has been quite consistent over the last 6 years and should be the best placed Aussie going off his recent form
Liam Adams who was 7th place in the Glasgow games (2:13.49) behind Michael Shelley is the youngest of the Australians at 29. This will be his first Olympics and although he doesn’t have the experience of Scott or Michael, he still has about 5 years of Marathon running behind him with times consistently around the 2:14’s.
My heart obviously lies with the Aussie team, but the front runners will more than likely come from the following bunch of runners…
1 – Eliud Kipchoge, the 31 year old from Kenya has dominated since 2014 with a PB of 2:03.05 at London this year makes him the second fastest runner ever over the Marathon. This man is just about unbeatable at the moment. He started career as a 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter specialist and still holds a top 10 time in both events. He has won the London Marathon and Berlin Marathon the last 2 years with his times getting consistently faster, all well under 2:05. If he doesn’t win the gold, I think there will be a few surprised people around.
2 – Stanley Biwott, the 30 year old from Kenya won’t be far behind his team mate, Eliud, with a PB 2:03.51 which he ran in London earlier this year. He also won the New York Marathon in 2015 and has been consistently running sub 2:10’s for the past 6 years. You would imagine he would be a good bet for a podium.
3 – Tesfaye Abera from Ethiopia is relatively young in the sport of marathon running at only 24 years old, but with a PB of 2:04.24, he is a serious contender. If he doesn’t win this year, you would imagine the next Olympics might be his time. He has only been running marathons for a couple of years, so still quite inexperienced, but with a PB that quick, he is definitely a possibility for the podium.
4 – Lemi Berhanu Hayle from Ethiopia with a PB 2:04.33 is a very young athlete at only 21, but looks to have a very bright future ahead of him. He recently won the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:12.44, so we will see if he has fully recovered from that race. Hopefully he can keep pace with the Kenyans.
5 – Tsegaye Mekonnen, another 21 year old from Ethiopia has a PB of 2:04.32 which he ran in his debut race in Dubai, 2014 as a 19 year old. I think all three Ethiopians will be exciting to watch over the next few years, but something about this guy having such a great time at a young age makes me think there will be something great to come.
With 5 great athletes all competing for the gold, this will definitely be a race worth staying up late to watch, or at least record. I think it will be interesting to see how the heat and the air quality will affect times this year. I have heard of a few runners saying it will be challenging. Time will tell.