New York Marathon 2011: Americans Still No Match for Dominant Africans

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06:  Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya (C), Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya (L), and Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia (R) celebrate after the 42nd ING New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Today's ING New York Marathon illustrated once again that not even a home-course advantage could help an American overcome the African long-distance dominance.

Only one American man has won the race since 1983, and that was Meb Keflezighi in 2009. He finished sixth today. No American woman has won the 26.2-mile trek since Miki Gorman in 1977.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won the race, with fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai (no relation) finishing second and Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia coming in third. Overall, runners from Africa held the top five spots and six of the top seven.

In the women's division, Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado claimed victory. Three dual-country runners that hail from outside the United States but list the U.S. as their country finished in the top 11. However, the top American finisher according to the official site was Molly Pritz in 12th place.

With the 2012 London Olympics set to begin next summer, it's difficult to imagine any American breaking through the African stronghold to claim a medal. Ryan Hall, who is perhaps the United States' best hope, didn't participate in the New York Marathon.

And as the winning times continue to improve with each passing year, the task of making up ground becomes even more difficult. For a country that can claim superiority in so many other sports, the marathon is one of the marquee events that has escaped the American grasp.

The main reason for that is a lack of interest from kids.

Most children grow up wanting to play football, basketball or baseball. There aren't a ton of them that dream of running marathons. That's not the case in Africa and is why the continent has staked claim to that corner of the sports world.

Maybe someday the United States will have its own version of the Mutai boys. But for now, Africans will remain kings of the marathon.

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