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Wanjiru vs. Geb: Who wins?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by kuha
    Originally posted by 2 cents
    Nobody knows who would win. I think people are dismissing Geb as a racer. Geb is one of the greatest racers of all time. Geb ran 26:51 last year on the track. Geb ran 27:06 to get 6th in last year's Olympic 10,000. This distinction between time trialer and racer can be overstated. I do agree that time (in the sense of chronological age) is on Wanjiru's side.
    Yes--very well stated.
    On the other hand, the difference between time-trialer and racer, I'm thinking, is vastly different between the track and the marathon. Different animals.

    In other words, the fact that Geb was a great track racer doesn't necessarily suggest he is so in the marathon. Isn't his record in major marathons pretty pedestrian if there are other über-class guys in the field?

    Comment


    • #17
      The concept of a time-trialer in the marathon, as if it could be distinct from a racer, doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I would agree with your point in the sense that Geb has appeared to have focused on running fast, chasing records and making money as a marathoner, but this doesn't necessarily mean he couldn't mix it up with anybody in the world if he chose to.
      For this concept of a time-trialer in the marathon to make sense to me, I would have to be given a list of people who are in the category. I cannot think of anybody. Now there are people who don't race well in championship events, whether that be the marathon or any other event. Geb has not been in this category.
      Geb's three fastest marathons:
      2:03:59
      2:04:26
      2:04:53
      Wanjiru has never run this fast. That said, I have stated I do not know who would win between them.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by 2 cents
        ....
        Geb's three fastest marathons:
        2:03:59
        2:04:26
        2:04:53
        Wanjiru has never run this fast. That said, I have stated I do not know who would win between them.
        Has Wanjiru (and I don't really know the answer) ever run a marathon completely surrounded by a phalanx of professional pacers who guarantee he doesn't trip on anyone, doesn't have to face whatever wind there is until very late in the race, and there's nobody else of WR-caliber in the race, so he needn't worry about any tactic other than running fast? Geb has certainly had the benefit of those.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by gh
          Originally posted by 2 cents
          ....
          Geb's three fastest marathons:
          2:03:59
          2:04:26
          2:04:53
          Wanjiru has never run this fast. That said, I have stated I do not know who would win between them.
          Has Wanjiru (and I don't really know the answer) ever run a marathon completely surrounded by a phalanx of professional pacers who guarantee he doesn't trip on anyone, doesn't have to face whatever wind there is until very late in the race, and there's nobody else of WR-caliber in the race, so he needn't worry about any tactic other than running fast? Geb has certainly had the benefit of those.
          The only way I feel qualified to answer your question, which a lawyer would say is a leading question (in the sense that it is intended to yield a predetermined answer), is that I would concur that Geb's marathon career has been tailored to run fast times. Wanjiru has not had the benefit of obvious races set up to attack the record, with possibly a couple exceptions. However, when Wanjiru won London in his pb 2:05:10 this year, he only won by 10 seconds. This cuts both ways. It may help as much or more than it detracts to have somebody around at the end. And certainly SW has had the benefit of rabbits. This is why I cannot say who would win. But gh, it is not easy to run 4:44 pace for 26.2 miles, even if you're being escorted by an army of angels...and even if you think you're going to win.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by gh
            Isn't his record in major marathons pretty pedestrian if there are other über-class guys in the field?
            I would respectfully disagree with this suggested assessment of Geb's record. I have read with some puzzlement a general trend on these boards of dismissal of and critique of Geb's record as a marathoner, as if he's not much of a marathon competitor, or as if any other top marathoner could do what he has done, given the opportunities. He's a great star and is an attraction to a top marathon, so it's no surprise that promoters have sought him, and that they have also (independent of Geb) put a lot of effort into creating the optimum conditions for WR performances. Geb chose, at that point in his career, to pursue such things. The fact is, this is his record:

            In London, 2002, he finished third in his senior debut, in what was at the time the fastest senior debut in history. The two marathoners who beat him that day were (a) more experienced at the event, and (b) ran the two fastest marathon times in history in order to beat him. Geb's 2:06:35 that day made him #5 on the all-time list. While I am sure he wanted to run faster that day, and while I know he faded in the last 3km, I am not inclined to to call a #5 all-time performance in his debut, only beaten by the WR and #2 all time as a so-so performance.

            Since then, he has run 9 other marathons, winning 8, in Berlin, Amsterdam, Fukuoka, Dubai, in times ranging from 2:03:59 to 2:06:52. He has had one bad day -- London 2006 -- finishing 9th in 2:09:05. I don't think that bad day was just because he couldn't handle the pressures of top competition.

            I have not gone back to look in depth at the finisher lists of Geb's marathons, to analyze the records of all the other top runners who were his competition on those days, but to take a quick glance, here are the #2 finishers in each of his 8 victories:

            Dubai 2009
            Geb 2:05:29
            Deressa Chimsa 2:07:54 (PR)

            Berlin 2009
            Geb 2:06:08
            Francis Kiprop 2:07:04 (PR)

            Dubai 2008
            Geb 2:04:53
            Isaac Macharia 2:07:16 (PR)

            Berlin 2008
            Geb 2:03:59
            James Kwambai 2:05:36 (PR now 2:04:27)

            Berlin 2007
            Geb 2:04:26
            Abel Kirui 2:06:51 (PR now 2:05:04)

            Berlin 2006
            Geb 2:05:56
            Gudisa Shentema 2:10:43 (PR now 2:07:34)

            Fukuoka 2006
            Geb 2:06:52
            Dmytro Baranovsky 2:07:15 (PR)

            Amsterdam 2005
            Geb 2:06:20
            Daniel Yego 2:08:58 (PR)

            Most of these races were not close at all, so there's no claim to late race drama that one sees in other big city races; nor is there a claim that these fields were as deep as some others big city races are. Nevertheless, that does not mean that no other decent competition was present, at least in some of these. Most of these #2 finishers have 2:07 PRs, and a couple are 2:04-2:05 guys. And there may have been some other runners with fast PRs in some of these fields who finished further back on those days; this is just offered to suggest that the idea that he never faces "real competition" isn't quite accurate, at least in my view.

            So, 10 marathons, including fastest debut in history, 8 commanding victories in consistently very fast times, with at least some very fast competition in some of those races, and 1 bad day. Pretty good record.

            But, to respond to the question of this thread: at this point, in a competition between Geb and Wanjiru, I would root for Geb but pick Wanjiru to win. He's almost 15 years younger; I think that matters. [/i]

            Comment


            • #21
              Excellent defense of Geb's marathon record, Master Po. I would only add that Geb did drop out of London in 2007 with some sort of stitch or something. The marathon is very difficult, and Wanjiru may have a bad day someday, too. And I would again agree that if Wanjiru has an obvious advantage, it is youth.

              Comment


              • #22
                2c -- thanks for pointing out the 2007 London race -- I missed that altogether. Looked up the results -- he was with the leaders at 30km, and then apparently dropped out somewhere between there and 35km. Still, he seems above average, to me.

                Comment


                • #23
                  I don't sense "trend" on the board to diminish or belittle Geb's marathon record/ability/competitiveness. All of the above points in his "defense" are valid. Geb is one of the or THE all-time great distance runner/competitor.

                  One of the aspects of my posing this question, and I think a natural observation by anyone with a more than superficial understanding of the event, is the dichotomy of the Oly Champ that is winning tough, competitive races and the current WR holder (multiple times) who also appears unbeatable. They haven't met at the starting line and may never.

                  It could be boiled down to a) can SW run as fast as Geb has, or b) is Geb a tough enough marathoner to beat SW? Because to all of our minds SW is as tough as they come and Geb is obviously as fast as they come. And we all know that the race doesn't always go to the swiftest...or the toughest.

                  The SW argument is self-evident. He hasn't run as fast as Geb and is therefore "deficient" in that department. The question about Geb revolvedsaround whether he's "tough" enough. It's almost amusing to type that because no one would argue that Geb wasn't the toughest of the tough on the track and, as others have stated, you have to have the goods to run 2:04.

                  What gh pointed out, validly I think, is that Geb's fast races have by and large been run in a less competitive environment than what SW has experienced. There is a difference between running a race soley to win and running in a race wherein the organizers have cleared away other competition, where other runners are employed to escort you swiftly and safely to the finish line, where the pace is deliberately set as smooth and even as possible. The point is that Geb has not been, again through no fault of his own, on the road to a 2:05 with people trying to drop him with surges in the last 12k

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Track and Field News Event Rankings:

                    1) Honors Won
                    2) W/L, including Head-to-Head
                    3) Sequence of Marks

                    1) SW
                    2) SW
                    3) Geb

                    SW hands down

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      So we're talking about a dream race where the very best marathoners of our day will meet the greatest challenge in the world of endurance sports... each other.

                      A fantastic fantasy race, where nobody drops a shoe just before the half point, no rain dampens the atmosphere, while also no sun burns energy out of their bodies. The battle-hardened runners everybody's attention is on are ready to fight to the last drop of sweat for glory and gold.

                      It's a mild morning as these living legends gather on the welcoming streets of Turku, Finland, once the training ground of a dead legend whose footsteps our heroes are following in. His very name stlll brings forth happy memories of success and victory in the hearts of all the thousands after thousands eagerly cheering for the champions of our modern generation. His memory still unites all these myriads of sports fans, gives them a common identity, makes them all one happy family.

                      -- ...and, well, sorry guys, but the winner is Martin Lel. His latest half marathon victory indicates a return back to form if I'm any judge - this would be the form in which he beat Wanjiru in London '08, and would again. Unlike either Geb or Wanjiru, he has an actual finish.

                      But just considering Gebrselassie vs. Wanjiru, I'm inclined to go with the latter. Geb is getting old; his times in both Dubai and Berlin were slower than last year and his half-marathon at Den Haag was even less impressive. All that's a rather small sample size, I know, but I have the feeling this is the beginning of a trend.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Well, it is obvious that Geb has been sipping at the fountain of youth longer than one normally does. Of course it wouldn't be surprising if by 2012, Wanjiru, although he'd still be young, may not be the best marathoner in the world. And I don't even have Bekele in mind with this comment. He has now become, or so it appears, a specialist at the marathon, and it will likely take its toll. He has now run 5 marathons between 2:05:10 and 2:06:39. I would like to see him run a few more 10,000s while he is still young. Now if he stays healthy, I expect he'll remain one of the best marathoners for a while, but it is an unforgiving event...

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Again, I agree completely. The whole "comparison" is sort of foolish--compare any distance runner against the Geb of, say, 1997--and they all lose. Compare the quality of the Geb of '97 against Wanjiru of '08/'09, and it's Geb easily. If anyone really wants to compare the two today, be prepared to compare Wanjiru in the year 2021 against the very best in the world then. I think I already know the answer...

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Geb won th Oporto Sportzone Half-Marathon on Sunday in 1:00:02. and it was windy today. He broke Wanjiru course record a year ago by over a minute. Not bad for a old man setting time trials...

                            MEN -
                            1. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH 1:00:02
                            2. Nicholas Koech, KEN 1:00:48
                            3. Terefe Maregu, ETH 1:01:14
                            4. Cosmers Kemboi, KEN 1:02:07
                            5. Kuflon Sium, ERI 1:03:27
                            6. Samson Cherop, KEN 1:03:53
                            7. Jairus Chamchima, KEN 1:04:04
                            8. Rui Silva, POR 1:04:34
                            9. Javier Diaz Carretero, ESP 1:04:36
                            10. Robert Cheboror, KEN 1:04:55

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Not bad for anyone 4 weeks after running Berlin!

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