They ran the 112th Boston Marathon Monday (4-21-08). The triumph was that Robert Cheruiyot (trying to say something near Cherry-ott) of Kenya had won his 4th Boston Marathon. The tragedy is one that America has barely noticed.
Cheruiyot won the 26.2 mile race in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 45 seconds. He ran alone for the last few miles. Cheruiyot won the Boston Marathon in 2003, set the course record for her victory in 2006, and then in 2007, making her this year's win for the third time in a row and the fourth in six years.
Excuse me while I'm breathing deeply because of the boredom.
Two Moroccans finished 2nd and 3rd and two others from Ethiopia, 4th and 5th – all with unpronounceable names. Imagine a saying from Nike: "Run to victory with Nike like Bouramdane, Boumlili, Asfaw and Adillo Do!" Notice how American it sounds and understand how difficult it can be to market foreign runners with foreign names in America.
No one seems to have the clarity to recognize it or the courage to say it, so let me be first: the national track competitions and the famous marathons in America have dropped to a new low of interest because the America does not seem to produce runners born in the United States. who can currently win signing events.
This is the brief evolution of the oldest marathon in history:
American Clarence DeMar won his first Boston Marathon in 1911 and his 7th in 1930. American Bill Rogers won his first in 1975 and his fourth in 1980.
A Kenyan – Ibrahim Hussein – won in 1991 and this year Robert Cheruiyot won. Between Hussein and Cheruiyot, Kenyans have won the race 14 times in 16 years and 16 times in 18 years, losing only to a South Korean in 2001 and an Ethiopian in 2005.
This year, when an American finished 10th, this was called a miracle in some circles. Americans have not done squat in recent years.
Of the 32 elite runners presented as possible winners of this year's contest, not a single American has even been mentioned as a possible winner in our wildest imagination. More than 25,000 riders qualified for this year's race and finished 98%.
If you ask, a trendy Ethiopian song (I swear I did not invent her name) won the Boston Women's Marathon. The top 5 finishers came from everywhere except America.
Cheruiyot has raised $ 150,000 (the largest) in prizes. Cheruiyot is a great guy and a world class runner. His main concern on Monday was to run for 2 hours 7 minutes and change because he wanted to represent his country, Kenya, at the 2008 Autumn Olympics.
It's not because he won in Boston that he will be part of the Kenyan team of three people. Four other Kenyans ran under UN: 02: 07 this year in a major competition. Yuck! This shows how Kenyans dominate the world marathon. It is interesting to note that no Kenyan has yet won gold at the Olympic Games, even though it is their specialty.
Unfortunately for Cheruiyot and for athletics and racing in the United States, foreign domination by winning here has created a marketing nightmare. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to commercialize world-class foreign athletes on American soil, regardless of their number of victories or their number of records. Nobody in America is worried about it.
I found the United States today Boston marathon cover buried on page 7 of the sports section on Monday. There were frankly 6 pages of sports news more interesting to read than a stranger who won the Boston Marathon again.
There are no longer any major programs on prime-time TV channels, only the Olympic Games have significant coverage. Avenues that attracted thousands of fans are now empty of comparison. There is little or no coverage. The big sponsors go the other way when the leaders of the meeting come to call us.
This happens because America no longer seems to be able to produce riders that are worth it. They are just not competitive and can not win events like the Boston marathon if their lives depended on it.
Do not blame foreign runners who were once stricken with poverty and then found a way to win America and return home as a new millionaire. The foreign runners were hungry. Making a living in America is easy. There do not seem to be runners who would be hungry enough to train harder and smarter and beat foreign runners.
We also do not seem to have a coach in the United States who can motivate our riders to get away from the dead center and do something spectacular. There is currently no runner in America who can handle heavy marketing and promotion because there is no one who can deliver results when it matters.
The fact that Americans think that they can not beat Kenyans is hogwash. They already thought that it was impossible to run a kilometer under 4 minutes. Kenyans believe that they can win; Americans do not think they can win. I just want to get up and give some sense to our American runners and coaches.
We did not become the biggest country in the world because we had our eye on second place or because we wanted to do a lot to finish in the top 10 in Boston.
I really think that it is not raw talent. We must have at least a dozen talented runners among 300 million people. I think our lack of world class US runners is more due to a lack of desire and determination. The marketing problem will not go away, and fans and sponsors will not come back long before America produces US-born riders capable of defeating the best players in the world.
As a long-time runner and runner, I'm disturbed by the fact that our riders have become such huge failures on the world stage.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley