Elite Runners Mixed on Weather’s Impact

With the possibility of “ice pellets or snowflakes,” according to marathon analyst Tim Hutchings, weather conditions were at the forefront of questions during Friday’s elite runners press conference for the Chicago Marathon.

According to forecasts, temperatures are expected to be in the low- to mid-30s for Sunday’s 7:30 a.m. start and get no higher than the mid-40s by the end of the race.

The elite runners, both men and women, had different takes on the weather conditions. Kenya’s Wesley Korir, winner of the 2012 Boston Marathon and one of the favorites to win Chicago, brushed off the question, saying: “There are things you can’t control.”

Some runners suggested that the cold would benefit them and their race times.  When asked about the effect the weather would have, three-time defending women’s champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia, speaking through a translator, said: “My first marathon in 2010 was also cold and I won.”

Shami Dawit, who is running his first World Marathon Majors event, said he would “like it a little hotter, I have no fat on my body.”  He would not use it as a crutch, however.

“For all the runners the weather is the same, said Dawit, from Ethiopia, who added that he would just need a longer warm-up than normal.

The weather was viewed neutrally by the elite runners, but organizers say they prefer the colder temperatures. Many remember 2007, when 87-degree temperatures brought the race to a halt when one person died and 300 were treated for heat-related ailments.

“We can communicate to runners via email or text for updates on weather conditions,” Hutchings said. “Cold weather provides less challenges for us than the warmer weather.”

Pre-race perspectives from elite American runners:

  • Dathan Ritzenhein spoke about his health: “I’ve been healthy for pretty much a year … I’ve dealt with cramping in the past,” and his preparation for this marathon: “I did a lot longer runs than I did for past marathons . . . I did a lot more speed work in the beginning of the year. I did everything at altitude (he trained in Park City, Utah).” Dathan ran the marathon for the US in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His career best time is 2:09:55.
  • Renee Metivier Baillie, an 11-time NCAA All-American, on running her first marathon, “I have a healthy fear of the marathon, coming from a track background.”
  • Tatyana McFadden, who is the 2009 and 2011 Women’s Wheelchair champion, spoke about winning her first three Paralympic gold medals this summer, “[After the first medal] I just teared up because I finally received that gold medal I’ve been waiting for since I was 15.”

Race Notes: Raji Assefa of Ethiopia has withdrawn from the competition. At the request of the Ethiopian Federation, he will compete in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships on Oct. 6 in Kavarna, Bulgaria … The wheelchair division will start at 7:20 a.m. … The elite runners will start at 7:30 a.m., followed by two waves of runners, 45,000 in all.

Originally posted on 10/05/2012

By Jakub Rudnik

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Published by Jakub Rudnik

Chicago-area sportswriter. DePaul journalism professor. VP of content and SEO at Shortlister. Founder of Illinois-Basketball.com.