3. Geoffrey Mutai's Marathons

In a year of really fast marathons, Mutai stands out

Geoffrey Mutai     Photo: Flickr

Course record fell at all five of the major marathons in 2011, and Kenya’s Patrick Makau set a new world record in September. But Geoffrey Mutai impressed us more than anyone else: In April, the 30-year old Kenyan won the Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 2 seconds. He shattered the course record by almost three minutes, and clocked the fastest time ever recorded for the 26.2-mile distance.

But Mutai’s Boston effort would not qualify as a world record, even if it was faster than the then-official mark by almost a minute. Officials exclude the Boston course from the record books because it has a net elevation loss and finishes too far from where it starts, meaning on the right day, racers can ride a tailwind to the finish, which is exactly what happened in April.

But Mutai would prove that his scorching-fast time was no fluke: In November, he took a hard-to-believe two minutes off the New York City Marathon’s course record, winning in 2:05:06, 1 minute and 33 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

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