I was asked by bull runner who do I think will win the Mens and Women Beijing Olympic Marathon? Being a Kenyan I will be naturaly biased and go for the Kenyan dream team of Robert Cheruiyot and Martin Lel.
To know who between Robert Cheruiyot and Martin Lel will win, I decided to have a look at Beijing marathon course. Different courses favour different athletes.
According to the Official Beijing Olympic Site, The marathon will begin at Tian’anmen Square and end at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.
The head of design at Asics sports went to China in April for the Beijing Marathon. He found the course to be flat but composed of various surfaces, including stone (that could cause slipping); newly paved asphalt (which will increase the heat); and concrete that appeared harder than Japanese concrete (perhaps because Beijing’s main roads are meant to accommodate tanks and other military vehicles).
A flat course would favour Martin Lel who is known for his sprint finish but going by the observation of Asic’s man, the difficult road conditions might just favour Robert (Mwafrika) Cheruiyot.
Robert is the twice winner of Boston marathon, it’s hills make it one of the toughest marathons in the world. Incidentally, the stamina he has gained from Boston hill runs might just have prepared him for Olympic glory.
On August 24th 2008 I expect to see the very tall dark Robert to be the first man to enter the Bird’s nest.
As for the women, I don’t see how Catherine Ndereba will beat the Japanese ladies. While Ndereba trains in the clean highland air in Kenya, the Japanese female runners will have the advantage of training in the bad Beijing air.