On Monday afternoon, Alan Culpepper placed fourth at the BostonMarathon (2:13:39) to post the best place finish by an American at the race since 1987. Fellow American Peter Gilmore placed 10th (2:17:32) to give the U.S. two runners in the top 10 at Boston for the first time since 1993 (Mark Plaatjes, Keith Brantly). Ryan Shay was 11th in 2:18:17. Below is a transcript of a press conference held with Culpepper and Shay.
For complete results from Boston, visit www.bostonmarathon.com
Alan Culpepper quotes:
Q: On running Boston instead of London:
A: It was a personal decision based on the circumstances of coming off of Athens, having what I felt was a positive experience there on a difficult course in difficult conditions. I felt I was set up well for Boston. This is a championship-style race. I still have other goals of running quicker and running faster. This was a good timing situation, for me to come here.
This put Athens to shame. This was way more difficult.
Q: On advice others gave him before the race:
A: I was told numerous times that those downhills are going to sneak up on you. I did a lot of downhill training. Fortunately, Shayne, my wife, nudged me to do even more than I was going to. I was thankful for that.
Q: You seemed to catch up with the chase pack in Wellesley when they picked up the pace.
A: I couldn't tell what promoted it. I think it was last year's champion moved to the front [Timothy Cherigat of Kenya]. As soon as someone prominent moved to the front and injected any sort of pace, it got a reaction. I was a little surprised. I was expecting it to be about a mile later. It caught me a little off guard, but I was able to change my pace. It was pretty difficult, you get used to a certain effort level, to run five or six seconds facter can make a big difference. The thing about this course, as soon as you get in some sort of rhythm, there's a water stop, or a shift in the pace, or a downhill.
Q: What kind of hill training did you do?
A: I did specific workouts at goal race pace, up to 10 miles, with a net downhill. I did more than I have ever done in terms of hill training. I think [the hills at Boston], in combination with the weather, is what made it so difficult. Had it been 10 degrees cooler, my legs would have done better. When your muscles are depleted [from sweating] and you run down the hills, it's that much harder.
Q: Did you ever give thought to winning the race?
A: I was just trying to maintain. The last 10 miles were definitely difficult. I was happy that I was still maintaining contact, but as soon I as I would get close they'd pick it up again. I felt good going uphill, but as soon as we'd go over the top, I was just trying to hang on. In the last 10 miles, I was just trying to pick guys off and maintain a solid pace.
Q: Comment on the crowd.
A: It made a big difference. I heard my name and USA a lot. There are points where you mind gets a little wacky. There were definitely some points where I was feeling extremely bad. I had a lot of bad patches. The crowd was a good distraction, actually. They were so loud that you would stop thinking about yourself or your legs or your blisters. Especially the last 10 k. All the way through the hills and coming home, it was a big factor in helping me get to the finish line.
Q: How long until we see an American woman win Boston?
A: With the Olympics last year, New York ... we have the ability, the talent, the guys coming up. I think Ryan and I represented well today. It's going to be a continuing process of guys stepping it up and running competitively in the bigger races. It's been a long time coming, but it's been a progression. It takes a lot of things coming together to win a race like this. To say a win is going to happen is difficult. It's a different sport than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, but it's in the works for sure.
Q: What would it mean for an American to win the race? Would it create another running boom?
A: It's hard to say. I don't think it would be as potentially enormous as it would have been a long time ago. We already are in a running boom. There are already more people doing our sport and getting excited about it. It's a great thing, the progression of our sport. It wouldn't change much, [but] it would bring more awareness to the fact that this is a profession and another sport out there that could be an option for the youth of America.
Ryan Shay quotes:
Q: What did you think about your first Boston?
Shay: It's definitely challenging. I think I may have underestimated the hill sections from mile 16 to 21, but maybe I think I underestimated them because of how hot it was outside. I'm not the best heat runner, and my core temperature got to the point that I couldn't hold down fluids. Everything was coming back up after 10 or 11 miles into the race.
Q: Comment on the crowd.
A: The times you are really hurting, you come into these sections where they are screaming so loud, you can't think about anything else. They'd be changing USA, USA, or my last name, "Shay Shay Shay." As much as I was hurting, it helped out.
Q: Comment on your finish vs. your goals
A: I was hoping to finish much higher. I was close to a goal I'd be happy with - top 10 finish - but finishing closer to 7th and 5th or higher would have made me really happy. I wasn't happy with my time. I know I was fit coming into this race, but some things are out of your control, and the weather is one of those.