by Mark Ulrich

Well, that was disappointing. For both races the only issue was which of the 4 or 5 favorites would drop back. For the men it was Ritz. For the women Amy Hastings and Deena Kastor. After tons of drama about how it could be seen live short of being in Houston — turns out it couldn’t — and a day spent in a virtual cave until the 3pm start of NBC’s coverage, once the men’s race started and Hall etc. took it out hard, that was that. The women’s race lasted a bit longer with a larger pack, but then that large pack was four, as was the men’s. (The photo is from Mark Ulrich, a Houstonian who is doing yeoman’s work on RunnersRoundTable.)

I watched at the Bronxville RC, on the tv normally used for checking strides on the treadmill. We had an antenna and were able to get a sometimes disrupted signal. I picked both of the first two in each race, although I had them backwards in both, but struck out on the third spot.

I enjoyed it though. NBC did a good job without a lot of touchy-feely stuff I was afraid we’d get, and even then it largely used a picture-in-a-picture so we could watch the race. Its big failure was not providing enough info, particular the gap between Abdi and Ritz in the final stages and not telling where the runners were.

I only knew (virtually) one person running, Jaymee Marty (whose qualifying in Chicago 2010 was inspiring). [Edited to add: Her Race Report.] She had major injury issues going in, with little training over recent weeks. Her goal was to finish and finish she did. While I’m sure she was disappointed with the particulars, I am again inspired.

As to the men, it was a bit much to have each of the top three in the post-race presser thank god for their success since they, a, don’t seem to wonder where god was in 2007 when only one of the three made the marathon team and, b, don’t seem to wonder why god abandoned Ritz this time around. Is distance running becoming the equivalent of American sprinting where god apparently cares how well, or poorly, batons are passed in the 4 X 100?

It has long struck me that Hall’s faith is more subtle, that he views god as giving him a gift and that the best way for him to praise god is to make the most of that gift. But for Meb to say that god gave him a push toward the end was a bit much.

A recent non-running event makes the point that if there is an active god, one who cares about who wins road races (or football games), he is, as I believe the late Christopher Hitchens put it, cruel and capricious.