Sunday, August 21, 2016

Leaving Rio...

Thanks for the medals and the memories!

Closing Ceremonies Weather Concerns

After days of hacking away with the cough that has plagued our tour the past week, I woke up this morning with the full-fledged chest cold that has been its inevitable destination.

I had planned on visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue early this Sunday morning, but it was pouring, I didn't feel well, and most of all, the men's marathon was up - event #47 of 47. I saw a few brief minutes of it out on the course and returned to my hotel to watch the finish. Galen Rupp earned himself a worldwide audience for the medal ceremony during Closing Ceremonies tonight with his third-place bronze.

Later in the afternoon, after a restorative nap, I decided to give the trip to the statue another try, and this time they did everything but tell me they had closed down the gondola. A windstorm had come up, and my guess is that gusts in my neighborhood exceeded 40 mph. As I was walking back to the hotel, I heard corrugated metal ripping from a roof. Just across the street, a palm tree shed its fruit with a small but startling explosion all its own. The television in my room has gone on and off of its own accord twice, and a neighboring back door light gave its own show.

Now we are minutes from the start of Closing Ceremonies. I can only hope they will not be disrupted by the storm outside. Maracana Stadium is open in the center and so the performers likely will be affected, but I fear those in attendance will have stood in the usual long lines to get in, and this time in the rain and wind.

As for me, I'm going to head for the same place I watched Opening Ceremonies, the Catete Grill, and see how the neighbors view the end of their big event.

With some luck we'll get the real deal this time: Hela Pinto, the true inspiration for "The Girl from Ipanema," and not that same imposter we had during Opening Ceremonies.

Day 10: Men's Marathon Fearless Picks and Predictions

Sunday, August 21

UPDATE: It's pouring rain 15 minutes before the start of the race at 09:30 Rio time.

M Marathon
A World champion at 5,000m as a 19-year-old in 2003, 32-year old Eliud Kipchoge has been running at the highest levels for 13 years. He has made the transition from track to the roads far more successfully than some of his more famous counterparts, and now his fame rivals theirs.

Starting with wins at the Rotterdam and Chicago Marathons in 2014, Kipchoge won marathon majors London and Berlin in 2015, and added the London title in 2016 in 2:03:05, just 8 seconds off Dennis Kimetto’s (Ken) world record. Kipchoge is everyone’s favorite, including mine.

I had thought that two-time (’13 and ’15) Boston winner Lelisa Desisa would be on Ethiopia’s team, but instead it’s this year’s Boston winner, Lemi Berhanu (Eth) who will run in Rio. He was called a surprise winner in Boston, just as he was 15 months earlier when he really was an unknown when he won the Dubai Marathon. A medal for him will not be a surprise.

Tesfaye Abere Dibaba caught the attention of many when the then-unknown ran away from the field and won the Dubai marathon on a hot early morning this January in a fast-for-the conditions 2:04:24. There may well be very similar conditions here in Rio.

When it comes to looking for medalists who might not win, Kenya’s Stanley Biwott, 2nd at London this year in 2:03:51, has a remarkable record in the last four years (including half-marathons): 4 -1sts, 3 - 2nds, and a 4th and a 5th. His London race is especially impressive, to hang on so well when 1st is long lost.

It’s hard to know what to make of the top three in last year’s World Championship race, held in a sauna in Beijing. The only one I think is likely to make an impact here is the winner, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea, who showed himself to be a master (and confident) tactician under some of the most challenging conditions ever encountered in a major championship.

Galen Rupp of the United States is intriguing; the slower the pace the better his chances, and he ran a particularly impressive marathon debut in winning the US Trials with relative ease – and on a hot day. He has not helped himself by running the 10,000m first.

Speaking of London, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich was the unexpected winner of London ’12 Olympic gold. But that is usually how it turns out in these marathons – the favorites aren’t as favorite as we thought, magic takes place on the roads, and someone’s life is changed forever.

As for Kipchoge, the fact that during the dip in his career between track and roads he followed me on twitter without any prompting from me only adds to his luster.

Well, for some of us. OK, for one, but I’m doing the picking here.

1. Eliud Kipchoge, Ken
2. Tesfaye Abere Dibaba, Eth
3. Stanley Biwott, Ken

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Of Horses and Swansongs

Good Morning, Campers.

Well, 46/47 previews and predictions are posted. I'll post the men's marathon before its early start tomorrow. It has been a new and different experience writing the previews for a much broader audience on RunBlogRun. With more explanation of references and the need to establish context for that wider audience, the individual previews bloomed from 250-350 words to an average of 460 each this time.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 8 - Olympic Track+Field

Fearless Picks and Predictions

for events beginning on
Day 8 – Friday, August 19

M 50k Walk
There is always a risk in being repetitive when evaluating the walks, as so many racewalkers cross over and do both the 50k and 20k. There is little action on the 50k front so far this year, as racewalking 31.1 miles is a little like running a marathon, only farther. You don’t want to do it too often, and you want to save yourself for the year’s biggest race.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 7 Olympic T+F Events Previews and Picks

for events beginning on
Day 7 – Thursday, August 18

M Shot Put
Until the US Olympic Trials, this seemed like an easy call. Joe Kovacs (US) moved up through the ranks in a predictable path to greatness – predictable because it’s a path pupils of his coach, Art Venegas, tend to follow. His culminating achievement was a win at the World Championships last summer and he seemed well on his way to Olympic glory. He may well be… but then the Olympic Trials happened. Ryan Crouser (US, OR) blew his PR out of the water with his 22.11/72-6 ½, just two centimeters short of Kovacs’ 22.13/72-7 ¼ /world leader.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Late Olympics

The scheduling of the events of these games is heavily dependent on television broadcast schedules - not that that is anything new. Rio is 4 hrs ahead of Pacific time, 1 crucial hour ahead of Eastern, 3 hours behind GMT, and 5 hours behind Amsterdam. The Eastern time difference makes the 'packaging' of the events much easier for NBC and played a substantial role in their decision not to broadcast the evening events live.