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Marathon Notebook

A Boston-to-Beijing connection?

Cheruiyot will wait for call on Olympics

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John Powers
Globe Staff / April 22, 2008

Was Robert Cheruiyot's runaway victory enough to earn him a spot on Kenya's marathon team for this summer's Beijing Olympics?

"If I get the chance, I will be happy," said last year's World Marathon Majors winner, who was bypassed for the 2004 squad. "I will produce a good race, as I always do."

The consensus, with which Cheruiyot agrees, is that Martin Lel (2:05:15) and Samuel Wanjiru (2:05:24), who finished 1-2 in London April 13, both will be selected. The federation promised that one Boston runner would be picked, without specifying male or female. Since Rita Jeptoo was third in the women's race yesterday, more than a minute behind the winner, Cheruiyot seems the obvious choice.

His 2:07:46 clocking, into a headwind on the hilliest course of the Big 5 marathons, was the sixth fastest in history here. On London's pancake layout, he reckoned, yesterday's effort would have been "maybe 2:04."

With the major spring marathons in the book, the Kenyan brass is expected to name the squad next month.

"We are serious about it because we have never gotten the gold in the Olympics," said Cheruiyot. "This is the year we will fight for it."

As for Jeptoo, she assessed her status this way: "I don't think I'm qualified to go to the Olympics because in Kenya a lot of women like to go to the Olympics. I'm ready, but they are not saying who is going yet."

Clearance for Clarence
Now that he's matched Bill Rodgers and Canada's Gerard Cote as a four-time Boston champion, Cheruiyot can set his sights on the grand old man - Clarence DeMar, the Massachusetts native who won seven between 1911 and 1930, five of them in a seven-year span. Most impressive about DeMar was his longevity. He claimed his first laurel wreath at 22, his last at 41, the oldest victor ever . . . Cheruiyot picked up 25 points to move into second behind Lel (75) in the World Marathon Majors standings with 55. The biennial cycle includes results from last year, when Lel won London and New York and Cheruiyot won here and was fourth in Chicago. Four more events remain this year - the Olympics in August, Berlin in September, Chicago in October, and New York in November - with the winner collecting $500,000. Ethiopia's Gete Wami leads the women's table with 65 points.

Rushin' woman
With her stunning runner-up finish to Ethiopia's Dire Tune in the women's race, Alevtina Biktimirova might have nabbed the third spot on the Russian Olympic team alongside Galina Bogomolova and Svetlana Zakharova. "I ran a pretty good time today, but I'm not part of the squad right now," said Biktimirova, who ran 2:25:27, two seconds behind Tune. "That is my goal and I hope they choose me." . . . Nick Arciniaga, who had only the 21st-fastest qualifying time among the elite runners, was the top American male finisher yesterday, placing 10th in a personal-best 2:16:13. "I was shooting for 2:15 or better, but it was a little bit tougher course than I thought," said the 24-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., who runs for the Hansons-Brooks team. "I just dug deep and tried to catch as many guys as I could." It was the fourth straight year that a Yank cracked the top 10; that hadn't happened since 1987 . . . Though the top 140 US women were competing in Sunday's Olympic trials, Ashley Anklam, a 22-year-old from Bloomington, Minn., came in a respectable 15th yesterday in 2:48:43.

Country miles
The Moroccans, who've never had a presence here, made a huge splash yesterday with Abderrahime Bouramdane and Khalid El Boumlili finishing second and third. With Ethiopia's Gashaw Asfaw and Kasime Adillo placing fourth and fifth, it was the first time since 1992 that the Kenyans had only one man in the top five . . . With Tune following last year's victory by Russia's Lidiya Grigoryeva, the Kenyan hold on the women's crown is slipping. It's the first time the Kenyans have gone two years without a title since Catherine Ndereba won their first one in 2000.

New marshals in town
Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, and Blake Russell, who won the three Olympic women's spots in Sunday morning's trials, covered 26 miles the easy way yesterday. They were chauffeured from Hopkinton to Boston as the race's grand marshals . . . Michael Wardian, running his fifth marathon in six weeks and his seventh of the year, finished 41st in 2:28:35. More impressively, he did it just eight days after winning the US 100-kilometer championship in Wisconsin, where he ran the final 4 miles on a swollen ankle . . . Boston's top two "streakers" kept their string of consecutive completions going. Neil Weygandt, the 61-year-old from Drexel Hill, Pa., ran his tally to 42, finishing in 4:34:55. Bennett Beach, the 58-year-old from Bethesda, Md., clocked a 5:40:28 for his 41st.

A Fiene effort
In the visually impaired division, Kurt Fiene took home the top spot, running a 2:55:00. Adrian Broca was not far behind in 2:56:18. Both had hoped to meet the "A" qualifying standard for the Beijing Paralympics of 2:46 . . . Wendy Terris accomplished her goal of finishing both the US Women's Olympic Trials Sunday and Boston yesterday. She ran the trials in 2:55:28 and Boston in 3:03:18.

Shira Springer of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John Powers can be reached at jpowers@globe.com.

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