2011 – Geoffrey Mutai

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18-Apr-2011 – Boston Marathon – 2:03:02 – Adidas AdiZero Adios
Date of birth: 7-Oct-1981
Nationality: Kenyan

The athlete:                
Geoffrey Mutai had already proven he was one to watch with his second place finishes at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon and Berlin Marathon, the former in just 2:04:55. The 2011 Boston Marathon would be notable for lacking one feature seen in many other such major events, it had no pacers. With cool temperatures greeting them, Mutai had every chance of performing well. The Boston Marathon features a notoriously difficult course, including the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot had won in the previous year and set the new course record of 2:05:52.

The 2011 race would develop into a duel between Mutai and countryman Moses Mosop, the two pushing each other through the streets of Boston and effectively acted as each other’s pacer. Behind them were tail winds of up to 15-20 miles an hour, which we will discuss later. The result was not only the new course record, but at 2:03:02 Mutai had set the new world record by almost an entire minute. Mosop was only four seconds behind him and became the second fastest marathoner in history. Mutai said afterwards that he was surprised to have run so fast.

Unfortunately the course for the Boston Marathon is not recognised for the world record by World Athletics. Rule changes in 1990 specified that marathon courses could not be steeper than one metre per kilometre, and the start and finish had to be no less than 21.1 kilometres apart to avoid tail winds benefitting competitors. The Boston Marathon course drops over 130 metres from start to finish, an average of 3.3 metres per kilometre. As noted, strong tail winds featured during the 2011 race. You can read more about the Boston Marathon and why it is not official for world records in my article here.

While Mutai might not have been able to claim the marathon world record, he would win many more events in the following years including the 2011 and 2013 New York City Marathon as well as the 2012 Berlin Marathon. His win at the 2011 New York City Marathon was done in 2:05:05, which still stands as the course record today.

The shoes:                   

If his choice of footwear looks familiar, that’s because they are the same Adidas AdiZero Adios runners that were on the feet of Haile Gebrselassie in 2008 when he set the marathon world record. The silver line going around the heel and through the midsole, as well as the silhouette more generally, is identical to the yellow pair Gebrselassie wore.

There was quite the story to their development, and you can read more about that here. For the curious out there, his course record at the 2011 New York City Marathon was set in the Adidas AdiZero Feather, which removed sections of the midsole to ensure the shoe weighed in at only 176 grams. Adidas mistakenly stated on their Twitter account that this was the shoe he wore at the Boston Marathon earlier that year.