Sunday, August 17, 2008

Women's Olympic Marathon - LIVE

12:10am
It turns out that I couldn't sleep in the few hours leading up to this race so I'm now in front of the TV, laptop conveniently placed on my lap, mug of coffee to my right and eyes starting to slowly open up again. We're about 20 minutes away from the race and probably 15 minutes from coverage starting.

Last night I tried to stay awake to watch Robert Heffernan in the 20km walk but kept drifting in and out of sleep. I eventually gave in and went to bed when I woke 45 minutes to find out that he'd dropped back to 9th place from the leading group. This morning I was watching the highlights and at 55 minutes he was in the lead. I was left cursing the fact that I may have gone to bed and missed Ireland's first medal of the games. That's why the coffee is on hand tonight! Turns out that he drifted back again just after that and finished a credible 8th over all.

Wahey! The build up is starting earlier than I thought. OK, expect updates through the next few hours...

12:21am
A quick swatch at the odds shows that Paula Radcliffe is at 8-1 to win. The weather apparently isn't as bad as they thought it would be. Obviously it'll heat up over the course of two and a half hours.

This build up is great... an interview with Paula Radcliffe on BBC from a week or so ago, Sigur Ros playing in the background... this is a real goose bump moment.

12:30am
And we're off. The 2008 Olympic marathon is under way.

12:39am
The pace seems to be fierce slow through the early stages. Unfortunately they don't appear to be throwing up the mile splits on screen. Liz Yelling of GB is to the front of a mass of runners.
OK... They've just said that the first mile was 6:06 so not all that slow if I was running. They don't even look like they're going any faster than a jog but obviously they are

12:47am
The Brazilian athlete near the front appears to be running in a dress... an honest to God tie dyed dress!

12:49am
Awww.. Deena Kastor of the US has dropped out. She appears to have said that something in her foot popped. Possibly a stress fracture in her foot. That's a real shame, the Athens bronze medalist is out of the race.

12:53am
Looks like chaos at the first water station. A group of people that size trying to grab water from the same place is not going to be easy. They'll want to spread out a bit before the next one.

1:03am
We've just passed 9km. This race needs an injection of pace coming up to the 10km mark. Usually Radcliffe's tactics in any marathon I've seen her in is to race from the front. Not so here as she seems quite content to let others take he lead. More chaos at the water station as athletes seem to be missing their water stops.

1:07am
Through the 10km mark in 36:10 (5:49 min per mile pace) with Liz Yelling still to the front of the pack.

1:25am
15km now completed (53:52). The lead group really hasn't broken up too much. There's about 45 athletes in the group with Paula Radcliffe now moving to the front of it.
It's mad how they don't appear to be moving too fast in the lead group but when they show the chasers running by themselves they appear to be bombing along.

1:28am
We just had a faller. It appears to be Liz Yelling but she's back up and running. Her back is grazed after a trip over a barrier.

1:42am
I know it's crazy late at night here but there's no excuse for the exchange in commentary that's been going on here on BBC. One of the commentators was waffling away about how dreadful his weather predictions should be and how he should move into forecasting... is it that hard to think of something to say?
On that note, I've just had a houmous and toast break! The good news is I seem to be kind of awake and no fears of falling asleep in the middle of this. That was the fear at the start but that coffee really seems to have worked wonders. I hope I'm able to sleep afterwards! Coming up to half way now...

1:46am
Half way in 1:15:11. Paula Radcliffe just had to take a 'pit stop' so she's to the back of the main group. The race should really start from here.

Tomescu Dita the Romanian has made a bit of a break but no one has made a move to go with her.

1:50am
Radciffe is back in with the group now. It must definitely have been a toilet break as the footage has shown replays of absolutely every stumble, bump and shoove but no slow motion footage of Paula Radcliffe dropping off to the side for a moment.

2:01am

The Romanian is ahead by 30 seconds at 25km. Radcliffe is leading the chasing group but they don't appear to be cutting the lead. Tomescu Dita looks strong out there on her own but there's still a long way to go yet.

2:09am
Here we go. The leader is 44 seconds ahead and finally an injection of pace has come into the chasing group. The group has split somewhat. Radcliffe appeared to be dropping off but she's pushed herself back into the group. Wami and Ndremba also behind Radcliffe so not all bad. The lead has increased to 52 seconds now.

2:16am
30km in 1:45:05. There gap is still over 50 seconds. I thought the increase of pace in the chasing group would have reduced that gap as the group has been shot to shit over the last mile. Surprisingly, Wami, the Ethiopian who pushed Radcliffe all the way in New York last year has been dropped from the group.

2:27am
It's mad how the camera is focusing away on Radcliffe the whole time. I think it's mainly because they're waiting for a break down. She's struggling but doesn't look like she's going to drop out. She looks to be in a bit of pain but not getting any closer to the chasing group.

The group are working together to catch the Romanian but no one is really pushing on so they seem to be handing the race to the Tomescu Dita. The lead went down to 48 seconds but now it's 1 minute 10 seconds pretty much because they group are refusing to kick on.

2:34am
7km to go and still a 1 minute 10 second gap.

2:46am
Just a few kilometres to go. It looks like the Tomescu Dita won't be caught. The chase is on for the other two medals now. It looks like it's between two Kenyans and two Chinese athletes.

It's funny how it's going to be won by Tomescu Dita just because no one went with her when she broke just after half way. There was just a refusal to chase her as if they thought she'd come back to them.

2:51am
The gap has closed by 30 seconds but it must be too little too late as Tomescu Dita is close to entering the stadium where she'll have 500m to go when she arrives.

2:54am
It's going to be a proper ding dong for the chasing group in the stadium for the final two medals. The place will erupt when two Chinese girls go into the stadium.

2:56am

Tomescu Dita wins it... China vs Kenya for silver over the final 500m in the stadium... What a finish by Ndreba as she ousprinted zhou the Chinese athlete only 28 seconds behind the winner.

Right, with that I'm knackered and off to my bed. I'm well surprised I managed to stay awake through the whole thing without drifting off to sleep once.

Oh, Radcliffe has entered the stadium just as I was leaving. 22nd it looks like, limping and definitely, definitely struggling. I think I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how the only Irish representative, Pauline Curly, got on.
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