Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"American Strong": The odds were long, long for Meb-Fellow Americans led by Ryan Hall became a team mid race to help him win

The very geeky Letsrun.com has a fascinating article with links to the long, long pre race statistical odds of Meb or Ryan Hall winning, somewhere between 0.05% and 3.7% with 14 runners, including Ryan Hall with personal bests better than Meb's. Yet Meb has proven over and over, despite his "age" that he is willy focused racer on the big day.

Essentially Meb, assisted by fellow American Josphat Boit at the front ran his own race and own pace. The Africans in a pack behind ran as if nothing was to be worried about, Meb would fade. They sped up, slowed down dramatically but never tried to close the gap, figuring Meb would fade. Realizing what was going on, and Meb had a chance to stay away,  Ryan Hall organized his fellow Americans telling them if they maintained the steady pace they wanted to  the Africans would respond, and the chase would be on. On the fly they decided Meb was the best chance for an American to win.
"Many of the top Americans, including Craig Leon, Nick Arciniaga, and Jason Hartmann were poised to go ahead of the African group except for one thing – Ryan Hall wouldn’t let them.
"As Nick Arciniaga explained:
Meb got ahead early on – before 15k even – him and JB (Josphat Boit) took off. I was in the lead pack with all of the other Americans and all of the Africans and about 15k to 20k, Ryan Hall and I were running side by side, in front of the lead pack but not really pushing it, and Ryan just kept turning over to me, talking (to me and saying), ‘Hey don’t push the pace. If they want to let those guys go, they are going to have work to catch back up to them. We are not going to help them out with that at all.  If we want an American to win, this is how it’s going to be done.’
From then on, the game plan between myself and Ryan and we told Abdi and few of the other guys as well , ‘We’re trying to get an American to win this race. That’s one of the biggest goals for today.’ Basically the Africans would have to do all the work to to catch them.’
And it turned out perfectly, obviously.
It’s a small (impact) but it was just enough (for Meb to get the win).
Craig Leon told a similar story.
I remember at one point it was kind of yo-yoing and I was falling off the lead pack and then they’d come back. I think it was maybe halfway or a little past halfway and it had slowed kind of considerably and Jason (Hartmann) and I were kind of moving our way through the pack and were just going to maintain pace (and keep moving up), and at one point, Ryan he looked at both of us, and he was like, ‘Let’s give Meb a little bit of distance. I think he’s up there with JB. (Josphat Boit).’
So we kept it slow. I don’t know if that did anything to help. But those guys had to work to catch Meb. I think Ryan was really smart to (think to) be able to say that (in the middle of the race).
Hey maybe it was us working together against some of the Africans. It feels good to have that.
I think it’s a real testament to Ryan. I don’t (even) know how he finished up today. He knew maybe he wasn’t going to have it there over the second half and I think he was looking out (for Meb), ‘Hey let’s do this.’ It’s great team work.
That’s what I love to see - (especially since) Boston puts such an emphasis on Americans.
Hall, the fastest American runner in US history, has the stature with the other American runners that a team leader in the Tour de France has.
Runners technically may be independent contractors, but on this special Patriots’ Day in Boston, one year after the nation was terrorized, the US runners were clearly working together as a team. The country with the best team tactics on this day was the US of A led by Hall.
The rest was up to the 38-year old Meb. Meb took care of the hard part. He ran a negative split pb on the difficult Boston course for the historic win."

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