Running Man: NYC Marathon Primer/Tracking


The NYC Marathon is this Sunday—the women’s elite race starts at 9:10 a.m. eastern, and the men’s elite start is at 9:40 a.m. (I’ll be starting in that first wave at 9:40.)

For those of you planning to tune in…

A little background:
The big question is whether Ryan Hall — the fastest U.S.-born American marathoner in years — can win it. This could be a historic day. The last American to win it (Alberto Salazar) was back in 1982. And momentum is on Hall’s side. He went 7th then 5th at recent London Marathons, then 3rd at Boston last April (so if you're one of those people who believe in patterns of sequential, diminishing, odd numbers, he's due!) And on his blog, he’s saying he's in the best shape he's ever been in. Odds: Let's put him at 1:5.

Here's the catch: it's also going to be the toughest field New York has seen in a long time.

The biggest threat is Kenya's Martin Lel, three time winner of London and two time winner of NY. The man has an unbelievable kick, and knows how to win major marathons. Odds? Let's say 1:3. Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot will be there — a four time Boston winner (1:4). James Kwambai, also of Kenya, is a 26-year-old rising star and is already the third fastest marathoner in history, having run 2:04:27. He has the fastest PR in the field at New York (1:4). Jaouad Gharib is another stud from Morocco, an Olympic silver medalist, and beat Hall at London. His odds: 1:4. There are about five or other guys who could break out and win, including Americans Abdi Abdirahman, Meb Keflezighi, and Jason Lehmkuhle. Marathons are impossible to predict — so much can go right or wrong in 26 miles. But if you've never set aside time to watch a marathon, this might be the one to do it.

On the women’s side, world record holder Paula Radcliffe will go up against Salina Kosgei, who just won Boston, Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu (former London winner), and a few other very fast runners. Paula’s the favorite to win — it would be her fifth NYC victory.

I'll be there too, one of the 40,000 runners (way) behind them. It’s been a long road to get here — a little over 2,000 miles of training, and more track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs than I care to admit — but it’s going to be worth it. It’s going to be my first marathon, and if I can keep my calf from pulling in the cold and avoid any kind of unplanned stop (and the swine flu), it should go great. Here’s how to follow along, whether you're tracking Ryan Hall's attempt at history, or anyone you know:

To any runner on your phone or email:

1) Sign up for “Athlete Alert” here:

You’ll get updates every 5k through the 20k mark, then mile split times after that.

Watch live:

To watch the race live on the web at 9:10 a.m. Eastern Time, go here:

To cheer:

NYer’s: Here’s a guide to the best places to watch the race around the Boroughs.

It will be crowded, but one good place to see the race is generally near the corner of 59th Avenue and 1st, after runners come off the Queensboro Bridge (Don't get caught on the wrong side of the race!). Then you can run over to Fifth Avenue at Central Park and see the final mile and a half. (For smaller crowds, you can also spot the race twice anywhere on First Ave then Fifth Ave uptown, above 86th St.)

(REPLY to this post with YOUR favorite spot to watch the race.)

I’m bib 202, and I’ll be wearing a blue T-shirt, blue arm sleeves, and some sort of agonized expression.

Pick the Winner:

This is one of the strongest fields NYC has seen in its 40 year history. Get to know the leaders here:

And here…