‘Life in the Big Apple moves very fast and so must you’ goes a big hit by British electro pop band Kajagoogoo way back in the first half of the 80s and it looks to blend so well with the occasion of the New York marathon tomorrow and its prelude 5k events later today, which form the main dish and feature during this weekend on the athletics scene worldwide.

For anyone will have to run real fast to be competitive and have a chance to gain a share in the limelight and the spoils in the streets of the famous American city, pretty much like the pace of life therein.

On the domestic front, the National Cross-Country Relays line up as the main theme and will offer an early gauge of the winter build-up and shape of many middle and long distance prospects on show.

Geoffrey Mutai runs away with victory in a course record of 2h05:06 in New York despite the absence of pacemakers

Rampant Geoffrey Mutai epitomises Kenyan dominance

Whatever glimmers of hope the Ethiopians might have held out, mainly in the semblance of defending champion Gebre Gebremariam, that they could finally buck the daunting trend and spoil the Kenyan party in the anchor leg of the Majors in the Big Apple were quickly mercilessly battered and sunk deep as the Rift Valley storm gathered and raged on over the final third of the distance.

Pavey inside the Olympic A qualifier in the New York Marathon

Jo Pavey turned in a solid display to come an eventual ninth in 2h28:42 in the highly rated New York marathon, going through the halfway point in a sensible 73:57, and bolstered up her current second place behind Paula Radcliffe among British women this season.

That was just 18 seconds shy of her debut and PB of 2h28:24 set in London last April to show sound consistency on top, but didn’t take her game well beyond the rest of the contenders for places in London and therefore she will very likely need to race again over the distance to ensure of an Olympic berth.

John Beattie endured a painful baptism of fire as he faded badly in the late stages of the men’s race to clock 2h23:43, which was well outside his aim coming into the race.



International Road & Cross-Country racing round-up


Kwambai edges win in rainy Seoul

Kenyan James Kwambai fought his way in the adverse weather conditions, rainy and chilly, to edge compatriot David Kiyeng out of a second successive win in the event in a very creditable 2h08:50 to 2h09:21 in perspective, though reasonably some way off the course record of 2h08:13 by Jason Mbote. Both runners hold much faster PBs of 2h04:27 and 2h06:26, both set on different courses in 2009, to provide a measure of their calibre. Ethiopian Yamane Tsegay was a distant third in 2h10:47.


Meantime, Joyce Jepkurui (KEN) walked away with a comfortable win in 70:57 while Solomon Kiptoo edged out countryman Peter Kosgey in 62:23 to 62:39 respectively for a Kenyan double over the Baringo Half Marathon.


On the country, Lucy Kabuu (KEN), the Great North Run winner, mounted a winning run of 26:29 over the 8km course to fend off the pressure of Penine Nenkampi, second in 26:34, as she continues her return after a long spell in the twilight due to a severe achilles injury and pregnacy.



Saucony ECCA Relays, Mansfield, England, November 5

Senior Men

Steve Vernon produced a strong opening run of 15:26.45, fastest of the day, to put Stockport well in control out in front and they went on untroubled to notch up a comfortable win by a good 53 seconds on second-placed Leeds, led off by season breakthrough man James Walsh in 15:37.40.

City of Norwich were second going into the final section but Leed’s Simon Deakin‘s 16:10.10 tail-end pushed them down one place into a final third.




Senior Women

Gemma Steel displayed her fabulous late form to excellent account as she powered through from fourth at the final handover and past AFD’s Emma Pallant, the former global U20 1500m bronze medallist, in the fastest leg of the day (9:49.30) to anchor Charnwood to a solid fourth straight victory in Mansfield.

Pallant, for her part, put in the second fastest run in 10:10.75 while U23 Hannah Walker clocked 10:16.35 to take the Birchfield ‘A’ team two places up into an eventual third.

Daegu 800m semifinalist Emma Jackson was a late draft-in to anchor Stoke into eighth in a useful10:56.85 country strength workout.




U20 Men

18-year-old Tom Purnell brought Stroud & District, from the beautiful Cotswalds, home to a convincing win over Kent’s Tonbridge by around 16 secs, the latter taking in highly-rated miler Robbie Farnham-Rose over the intermediate run.




U20 Women

Shaftesbury Barnet coasted to the title as they placed a sizeable margin of around 53 seconds on their closest pursuers, the City Of Norwich, and never came under threat through the course.




U17 Men

Tonbridge AC weathered the pressure from AFD through the race effectively to edge on top by five seconds in the end, as highly talented Zac Seddon‘s brother Matthew led off Bracknell AC to bronze.




U17 Women

Middle-distance sensation Jessica Judd totally let rip round the anchor leg to storm from eighth through to the top and steer Chelmsford AC to a convincing triumph by almost 10 seconds, offering easily the fastest run of the day in 8:21.60.

15-year-old Grace Baker left plenty of good impressions as she contributed a sound final leg of 8:56.10 to take AFD up a place to second as she couldn’t do anything against the onslaught of Judd.





McLarty makes winning return on the country

Morag McLarty, a former European U20 1500m champion, has returned to racing after a whole 15 months out due to injury in confident mood as she won the women’s 4km at the Scottish National Championships in Glasgow.

The 25-year-old trains alongside Eilish McColgan in Liz McColgan‘s group and holds a PB of 4:10.86 from last year.



Pavey faces cracking field in the ‘Big Apple’

Jo Pavey will be faced with a line-up of the highest calibre when she steps out to tackle the 26.2-mile course in quest of a faster qualifying time to boost her Olympic chances round the streets of New York, winding up on a demanding late uphill weaving into Central Park on Sunday.

Heading entries feature top Kenyan Mary Keitany, the London marathon conqueror last April in a superb sixth fastest all-time 2h19:19, and on-fire Kiwi Kim Smith who comes into the race on a US all-comers record of 67:11 over the half-marathon in Philadelphia in September.

The latter was on schedule for an astonishing time before disaster struck as she cramped up with around 10 miles to go in Boston last spring and may like to test Keitany, for some the arguable world’s top marathon runner at the moment, from the front employing some searing pace, a fervent front runner herself.

Come to that, she could handsomely deputise for the absence of ‘mercenary’ pacemakers from New York once more and set up a thrilling battle as well as some sizzling times at the end of the affair.

Nevertheless, the Brit should be intent on her own game plan and goal to improve on her debut of 2h28:24 in London last April and advance her position in the race for places in the distance on the British Olympic team, with the relative selection panel first meeting imminent in exactly a month from now.

Despite a convincing defeat at the hands of Gemma Steel up in Sheffield a few weeks ago, she should be good enough and gearing up to something around 2h25 which would make for a strong selection ground on her part.

European cross-country champion Jessica Augusto (POR) is going to be a dark horse lining up in her second ever marathon, making a sound debut of 2h24:33 also in London, while Russian Inga Abitova, former world cross-country champion Werknesh Kidane (ETH) and returning American Jen Rhines are other names to watch out for.


Incidentally, John Beattie will be going through his initiation to the distance in the men’s race and it’s going to be interesting to see whether he could lay a claim on the Olympic A qualifying standard of 2h12:00.

The Tulsa-based runner, 25 years of age, has had a lean competitive itinenary this year, probably down to injuries, but his last stop was an encouraging debut of 64:50 in the half marathon at the BUPA Great North Run so he hopes that things could come together into a solid opening time over the ultimate distance.

In the top drawer, defending champion Gebre Gebremariam represents Ethiopians’ last chance and stand to salvage some pride and end the Kenyan’s amazing winning streak that extends over all top five Majors so far, with New York the anchor leg of the series.

In fact, the Kenyans stand only a single step away of making history as the first country ever to sweep the whole six-stage haul in a single season, topping off an astonishing ascendancy over the distance.

But even he hasn’t looked so convincing recently and was a worrying early departure at the World Championships in Daegu where Albert Kirui (KEN) dominated nonchalantly to the global crown. Further, he is going to be faced with the menacing pace of Geoffrey Mutai, the man who scorched to the fastest time ever recorded of 2h03:02 in Boston, and his namesake Emmanuel, the winner in London in a course milestone of 2h04:40 last April, so his mission is anything but easy.

As things turn, the Kenyans do seem to have the upper hand going into the race, debutant Matthew Kisorio a potential major boost to their ranks, but they will have to count in Beijing bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede before they start sharing the spoils.


Thommo takes New York route

Chris Thompson will be swinging round the UN building and up to Central Park via the route of the inaugural Dash To The Finish Line 5km in New York today, the Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night, as he continues his early build-up towards the Olympic season.

The European 10000m silver medallist said that has been in phenomenal shape in training in his interview after finishing fourth at the Great South Run on Sunday so he would like to add some fireworks of his own in the streets of the ‘Big Apple’ on the occasion of November 5 in his very own way.

The event will serve as an appetizer to the New York Marathon the following day and among Thommo’s main rivals will be top Americans Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp.

World 10000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego (KEN) stands out from a relative stronger-in-depth women’s field that also shows Molly Huddle, the American 5000m record holder, Deena Castor, the Athens 2004 marathon bronze medallist, Lisa Uhl (nee Koll) and Sarah Hall.

The fields of both men and women’s 5ks: