Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Men's Marathon

The Olympic Marathons are just awe inspiring. I watched the 2004 Athens marathons from the comfort of my sofa, which led to my first half in late 2004 and my first full in 2005, and I've never looked back.

I watched tonight's men's marathon, again amazed at how fast these guys cover the miles. Knowing now what goes on during a race and how difficult it can be, I felt for 4th place finisher Deriba Merga who looked to kick in another gear at the end and found the well dry. Definitely been there.

While I'm glad NBC covered the race live and in full, the more I think back, the more I feel they could have done a much better job. I thought they spent way too much time on the lead pack, and lost out on all the plots and sub-plots brewing behind. Here's what I would have done, asked, and covered more:

- Where's Stefano Baldini, 2004 gold medalist? What's he doing back there? How did he end up in 12th place?

- How did Ryan Hall pick off runners, moving from the 20's to finish in 10th place?

- What's up with Dathan Ritz running ahead of Ryan for the entire race?

- How did Hendrick Ramaala, 2004 NYC winner, go from lead pack to finish in 44th?

- How did Martin Lel, 2007 London and NYC winner, drop off the lead pack in the 2nd half, and then come back to almost beat a wiped-out Merga at the finish, settling for 5th place.

- Show the view from the chase pack looking ahead at the lead pack. Are they gaining or fading? I think the chase pack is where there's more tension, more heartache. It's where the fight is, the mind games, the struggle to close the gap.

- Despite their overwhelming coverage of the lead pack, when Wanjiru made his move to break away of the lead pack for good, NBC missed it, and we saw Ritz and Hall running through a water stop instead. Their lead pack camera crew should be given an automatic pass to cut back in anytime they see someone making a move.

- Now that I think about it, the NBC commentators told us precious little about the 3 eventual winners. It's like they hardly knew who they were.

What else do you think they should have done?

And London - you can do better!


peter said...

Run the race at 10 am EST.

Old School Runner said...

I think you listed many of the criticisms that I had, plus a few more. I agree that the commentators focused far too much on the lead pack, and not enough on the runners behind. They even missed the big moves that broke the race open. You rightly point out that they focused on Hall, while Ritz was in front of him the whole way. It's like neither Sell nor Ritz were considered contenders. At one point, they seemed to hold out hope for Hall, saying he was less than 2 minutes behind, then a few seconds later, they said he was over 3 minutes back. They should have used the sensor technology more. They didn't hesitate to show the places on the screen when the lead pack had 15 runners, but they hardly used it when the pack had dwindled down to a handful. THAT'S when it would have been informative, to let us know how far behind the others were. Having said all that, running 2:06 in those conditions was absolutely stunning. Wanjiru is only 21? American "resurgence" may have to wait.

Deene said...

i watched that finish as well. I was disappointed that the commentators as well. amazing athletes however!

David said...

I was disappointed too. They obviously did not have enough resources on the ground to cover the race as enthusiasts such as ourselves expected. Ritz is the real deal and they were weak in their coverage. As much agony as we go through in races, it is not likely they could do justice to what we think about, even though a "marathon expert" was on the call. Disappointing.

Anne said...

I was OK with the coverage, which at least was shown in its entirety. I hated that the women's was blown up by rebroadcasts of an earlier meet ALREADY ON TV THE NIGHT BEFORE. Ugh.

The best coverage were the event videos shown in their entirety online. They captured EVERY finisher, which was pretty neat. The people in the Bird's Nest cheer just as loudly for the last as they do the first. I loved that.

Rae said...

Yeah, I'm with you too. I can't stand a boring constant camera on the top people, there are other people out there too!!!!