Defending champs return to NYC Marathon

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
10:11
AM ET
Mutai-JeptooAP Photo2013 NYC Marathon champs Geoffrey Mutai and Rita Jeptoo are back to defend their titles in 2014.
Two-time defending champion Geoffrey Mutai and reigning women’s champion Priscah Jeptoo will return to the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 to defend their titles, the New York Road Runners announced on Thursday. The Kenyans join an elite field that includes 2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi.

“Last year, as they led 50,000 runners in the largest marathon ever, both Geoffrey and Priscah were inspirations to us all,” NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg said.

“This November, when they line up in Staten Island to start their journey through the unique neighborhoods of the City’s five boroughs, these world-class athletes will be chasing history, as Geoffrey goes for a New York hat trick and Priscah looks to join an elite group of repeat winners.”

Mutai already holds the course record with his 2:05:05, run in 2011. He is also the fastest marathoner of all-time with his 2:03.02 from the 2012 Boston Marathon, but due to the course’s elevation drop and point-to-point layout the time is ineligible for an official world record.

Jeptoo won last year’s race in come-from-behind fashion, reeling in Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba in Central Park after 24 miles. She would cross the finish line in 2:25:07 for a 48-second victory over the Deba..

Here’s a look at Mutai and Jeptoo by the numbers:

0 - Marathons in the spring for Rita Jeptoo after a leg injury forced her to withdraw from the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.

3 - Mutai looks to win his third consecutive New York City Marathon. He would become just the third man in history to accomplish the feat and the first since Alberto Salazar in 1980-1982.

4 - Although Kenyans have dominated the marathon scene in recent years, Jeptoo is only the second Kenyan woman to win the New York City Marathon since 2000.

6 - Years in age difference between Mutai and Keflezighi on race day. Mutai turns 33 on October 7.

7 - If Jeptoo captures the 2014 crown, she would be the seventh woman to win in back-to-back years. Only two women have won more than twice. World Record holder Paula Radcliffe last accomplished the feat in 2007 and 2008.

22 - Number of miles run with the lead pack before Mutai broke away for the victory in 2013. Is there a similar plan this year or will Mutai chase a faster time than his 2:08:24 from 2013?

60 - Number of minutes Mutai needed to win the New York City Half Marathon on March 16. He would finish sixth at the London Marathon a few weeks later.

2012 - Had the 2012 race not been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, 2014 could have been an attempt at a four-peat for Mutai. Only Bill Rodgers has won the New York City Marathon four consecutive times.

Robin Williams: Cross-country runner & track star

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
4:16
PM ET
Robin Williams often credited his drama club at Redwood High School as one of the sparks to his career in comedy. Before he made the world laugh, Williams was a cross-country runner -- and a good one too. On Monday, Williams was found dead in his California home at the age of 63.

"I love running cross country," Williams once said. "On a track, I feel like a hamster."

According to his high school yearbook, Williams ran 1:58.8 for 800 meters in 1969, according to Runner's World. That same year, his 4x400-meter relay team also ran 3:21.7.

Williams ran in the 1984 Dipsea Race in California, where he finished in 232nd place of 1,375 runners. The cross-country trail race is the oldest in America since its start in 1905.

"Besides the hills, the stairs and the downhill, it wasn't bad," Williams told the Marin Independent Journal afterward.

Williams also played soccer for Redwood and went on to play at Claremont Men's College before attending Julliard, where his acting career would take off.

Kenenisa Bekele to run Chicago Marathon

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
2:32
PM ET
World-record holder Kenenisa Bekele will run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. The Ethiopian is coming off a two-hour, five-minute, four-second marathon debut and victory in April’s Paris Marathon. He holds world records at 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

"Kenenisa Bekele is one of the best, most versatile and exciting athletes competing on the global stage today,” race director Carey Pinkowski said in a press release. “Any time an athlete of Bekele’s caliber lines up to race, course records and world records are in jeopardy. We expect Bekele to put on a speed show, and it’s not out of the question to think that Bekele could bring the world record back home to Chicago.”

Bekele by the Numbers:

0 – No losses. Bekele is undefeated since he moved to the marathon. Although Bekele struggled with hamstring cramps toward the end of his first 26.2-mile race, he held off Limenih Getachew. Bekele's winning time of 2:05:04 was the fastest debut by anyone older than 30 and a Paris Marathon course record.

1 – American road race debut for the two-time Olympian. He has raced on an American track only five times.

3 – Bekele had three pacers during his run in Paris. Race organizers put the spotlight on him as the star of the event. Bekele might see tougher competition from the elite field in Chicago and might not have as much control over the pace for the lead pack.

6 – Bekele had the sixth fastest debut in history. How will he fare in his second marathon?

$75,000 - 2:03:45 is the current course record, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2013. Bekele aims to lower the time, which also comes with a $75,000 time bonus reward.

Marathon legend Alberto Salazar turns 56

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
5:14
PM ET
Three-time New York City Marathon champion and 1982 Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar turns 52 today.

Now retired from competitive running, the former Oregon Duck is based in Portland, Ore. as the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project. His training group saw success at the 2012 Summer Olympics Games in London as Mo Farah (Great Britain) and Galen Rupp (United States) captured gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men's 10,000-meter run.

In honor of Salazar's birthday and #ThrowbackThursday, here is a quick flashback to his 1982 Boston Marathon win over Dick Beardsley.

Keflezighi returns to New York Marathon

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
11:27
AM ET
Meb KeflezighiAP Photo/Charles KrupaMeb Keflezighi will attempt to get the rare Boston/NYC double victory this year.
Reigning Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi will run the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 as an ambassador for the Team for Kids Charity Program, the New York Road Runners announced on Thursday. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist is the first elite runner announced by NYRR for the 2014 edition of the race.

Keflezighi in April became the first American man since 1983 to win Boston, and his 2009 victory in the NYC Marathon was the first for an American man there since 1982.

"I am excited to be running the TCS New York City Marathon for the ninth time. This is a very special race and city for me,” Keflezighi said. "Additionally, I am honored to be a Team for Kids Ambassador and raise funds for the MEB Foundation."

The NYRR also announced that tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, formerly the WTA's No. 1-ranked player, will be running in New York.

"I can’t wait to trade my tennis racquet for a pair of running shoes and take part in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon as a New York Road Runners Team for Kids Ambassador," said Wozniacki.

As for Keflezighi, his return to New York offers up some interesting notes.

Meb by the numbers

6 – Only five men have doubled as the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon champion in the same year. Bill Rodgers accomplished the feat twice, in 1978 and 1979. Alberto Salazar was the last American to do so, in 1982. Kenyans Joseph Chebet (1999), Rodgers Rop (2002) and Geoffrey Mutai (2011) are the most recent.

6 – Keflezighi has finished in the top 10 of the New York City Marathon six times in his career.

9 – 2014 will mark the ninth time that Keflezighi has raced 26.2 miles through the streets of New York.

14 – Since its inaugural race in 1970, there have only been 14 American winners of the New York City Marathon. There has been only one since Alberto Salazar’s third consecutive crown from 1980 to 1982: Keflezighi in 2009.

23 – Just four years removed from his victory, Keflezighi placed 23rd in last year’s NYC marathon. Calf cramping slowed him down to the point where he walked for a few minutes, yet he was determined to cross the finish line.

39 – Keflezighi turned 39 years old on May 5. He was the oldest winner of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012, when he was 36. Geoffrey Mutai was 30 and 32 when he won the NYC Marathon in 2011 and 2013.