Wednesday, November 08, 2006

brazilians in the new york times - part 2

Marilson Gomes da Silva won the New York City Marathon, the first Brazilian to do so. He defeated a selected field that included Paul Tergat, the world record holder, and Stefano Baldini, the current Olympic champion. His time was 2 hours 9 minutes 58 seconds.
The women's race winner was Latvian Jelena Prokopcuka, with a time of 2h25m05s.
It's hard to fully appreciate what these men and women are doing by running the marathon at the pace they run. Let me give you some context, starting with the women.
Paula Radcliffe is the current women's world record holder. Her time of 2h15m25s, set in the 2003 London Marathon, is simply mind-blowing. Just as comparison, take the great Emil Zatopek. He won the Helsinki marathon in 1952 with a time of 2h23m03s, which is almost 8 minutes slower than Paula's time. Ok, it was Zatopek's first marathon, he had already won the 5K and the 10K races, and he ran in Helsinki's summer heat. Paula, on the other hand, ran in London's cool spring weather. I'm fully aware of the differences in condition, but c'mon, if we could somehow put the two of them together for a race today, under the same conditions, I wouldn't bet my money on Zatopek.
Now, the men. Paul Tergat's world record time is 2h04m55s. That's just under 3min/km pace. It's hard to grasp how fast that is for a 42km race. For a good measure, try to run at that pace for some time (but if you're over 35, see your doctor before attempting this. I'm serious). Go to your nearest track, and run half-lap (a full track lap is 400 m, about a quarter of a mile). You don't need to go full speed, run moderately but put on some effort. You should be aiming to run the half-lap in about 36s. Did you manage to do it? Now, imagine that these guys will keep going at that pace for another 105 full laps!! It's nothing short of extraordinary!

References:
Longman, Jere. Brazilian Surges Ahead to Surprise the Field. The New York Times. November 6, 2006.

1 comment:

407 IN VITRO said...

go Brazil!