The blue line marking the course has been painted, the Expo is happening and all that remains to begin is the TCS New York City marathon itself. On Sunday an estimated 50,000 runners from countries around the world will run through the five boroughs of New York City. The race begins on Staten Island and finishes in Central Park and millions of fans will line the course to cheer on the runners. Part of the World Marathon Majors, the race is one of the six biggest marathons in the world.
With a course that is not as fast as Chicago, London or Berlin the world record of an amazing 2:02:57, set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in September, is not expected to fall. With strong winds forecast for race day Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:05:06 course record is probably not in danger either.
In the men’s race, contenders include Lelisa Desisa, the Ethiopian who won Boston in 2013, and 2010 New York winner Gebre Gebremariam, also Ethiopian. Wilson Kipsang is the former world record holder, and is expected to go for the $500,000 World Marathon Majors series prize. Geoffrey Mutai will be attempting to win three consecutive New York City marathons, but is not expected to succeed. Desisa, Gebremariam, Kipsang and Mutai have all run under 2:05, but all were on faster courses than New York, with its rolling hills and bridges.
American men will be led by Nick Ariniaga, whose goal is to finish in the top five. Ryan Vail was the top American in last year’s race, finishing 13th. He hopes to better that performance this year.Both have a chance at a top-10 finish. Meb Keflezighi was the last American man to win the race in 2009, and he was the first to manage it since 1982 when Alberto Salazar took the prize. With his current goals more on the 2016 Olympic trials, after winning in Boston in April, he may not even be the top American finisher.
The women’s course record of 2:22:31, set by Margaret Okayo of Kenya in 2003, does not appear likely to be broken tomorrow, although it may come very close. This is a fast women’s field.Edna Kiplagat, Firehiwot Dado, Buzenesh Deba and Mary Keitany are all expected to do well. Kipligat ran 2:20:21 in April in London. Deba, an Ethiopian who now lives in the Bronx and appears to have the best chance of being the first city resident to win on the modern five-borough course, ran 2:23:19 in New York in 2011. Dado ran 2:23:15, also in New York in 2011. Keitany has the fastest PR with a 2:18:37 in the 2012 London marathon. All have the potential to run below 2:23 in New York.
American women are not expected to place highly. It was 1977 when an American woman last won the race. Kara Goucher and Desiree Linden, both 2012 Olympic marathoners, have fast personal bests from Boston, but both are coming back from injuries. Twenty-five year old Lauren Klepping, the second-youngest woman in the field, has the fourth-best PR among American women, and may do well.
Deena Kastor, holder of the American record of 2:19:36, will be shooting for the U.S. masters record of 2:28:40, held by Colleen De Reuck. Now 41, Kastor is reported to be hoping for a time of 2:25.
Sunday’s race begins with the wheelchair division at 8:30 a.m.Eastern Standard time. Professional women start at 9:10. Professional men start at 9:40. Four waves of runners will be starting at 25 minute intervals until 10:55.
By Beth A. Balen