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Why Mutai's record is . . . not a record

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  April 18, 2011 03:32 PM

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Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest 26.2 miles in history today, finishing the 115th Boston Marathon in a time of 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds.

Yet it is not a world record. Why? The explanation is pretty logical, actually, and it turns out "have the wind" at your back isn't the best advice in such matters.

Because Boston features more downhills than uphills and is a point-to-point Marathon course rather than a loop, it is not eligible for marathon records.

Further, a course that is point to point can have its times significantly affected by tailwinds, which is exactly what happened today.

The first four finishers -- including American Ryan Hall (2:04:58) -- surpassed the course record of 2:05:52 set last year by Kenya's Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot.

There are no wind or elevation advantages on a loop course, which is why the world record of 2:03:59 set by Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin in 2008 still officially stands.

Mutai has no complaints, however. He picked up $150,000 for winning the race, and the Boston Athletic Association will pay him another $75,000 for his course record and "world-best" performance.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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