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April 17, 2006

Rita Jeptoo

Emily Levan

Jelena Prokopcuka

Reiko Tosa


THE MODERATOR: Joining us, second place winner, Jelena Prokopcuka, and third place finisher, Reiko Tosa.
Q. This was your debut in Boston; how did you find the course?
REIKO TOSA: First of all, I would like to thank John Hancock and the Boston Athletic Association for bringing me here.
I did go through the course with Dr. Horouchi (ph). But once I'm on the course and running, the course was much tougher than I expected. I had a good time running until 30K or so leading the pack, but especially around 35K, I really had a rough time running.
Q. We noticed that the difference today in terms of the weather was a lot cooler today than the last time you ran here, did that help you?
JELENA PROKOPCUKA: Yes, the weather was very nice for racing. I was feeling very good. The race was very fine and very good. I am very happy. (Smiling).
Q. Reiko, we noticed that you led most of the race and then you gave up the lead, was it because of the course giving you trouble, or was that your strategy?
REIKO TOSA: It was because the course was tough. Nothing about the strategy. (Laughing).
Q. When she jumped out in front of you the last two miles and put that surge on, did you think you could still catch her at that point?
JELENA PROKOPCUKA: Yes, the last two miles, I thought I could do it. But I didn't do it. It wasn't -- it wasn't possible.
Q. Regarding the weather, do you think it was warm enough or cold enough to be covered as you were?
REIKO TOSA: As for me, I felt that I preferred warmer climates, so it probably wasn't helping me.
Q. Might you adopt a different strategy next time around and maybe not lead from the start and try something different next time and not do all the work?
REIKO TOSA: I feel that if I feel good, I probably would have just kept on going anyways. It just kind of was a spontaneous reaction. If I feel good, I would probably go ahead anyways.
In other words, I probably would not change my strategy.
Q. If I could ask both of you to comment. Jelena, how do you feel about the Marathon Majors Series?
JELENA PROKOPCUKA: I felt very good and maybe I didn't have some training that I have had before, in the New York City Marathon. Because before New York City I used altitude training. Before Boston, I didn't use, because it was impossible. And Rita was very strong today.
Q. If you could address, the Marathon Majors Series, are you looking forward to competing that and earning the additional prize money?
REIKO TOSA: I don't necessarily have many opportunities to run international races. I feel that any race I compete, I would like to do my best, regardless of if it's a Marathon Major or not.
Q. When you were dropped going up Heartbreak Hill, did you realize how steep and difficult this hill was? And two, were you surprised you were able to catch back up to the group after you had fallen back?
REIKO TOSA: First question, I did not know where the Heartbreak Hill was. (Laughter).
And going down the hill after the top of Heartbreak Hill helped me catch up, so it wasn't so much of a surprise.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us, Rita Jeptoo from Kenya.
Congratulations, can you talk to us a little bit about the problems that you had getting here? You came in very late and I'm wondering whether or not that might have even helped you.
RITA JEPTOO: Yeah, I have problem but the last two weeks, I go to the embassy, but she told me maybe I cannot come to America. But I'm happy because I go there, I got the visa. But my problem is my passport is lost after two weeks. But now after two days, my passport is coming and I'm happy, because I lost my passport and at the last minute I come here and I feel very happy to come here and to post my fastest. This is my fastest marathon in America, so I am happy, so much, and I won and this is my best time.
I don't know, I don't have anything I can tell because I'm happy so much. (Smiling).
THE MODERATOR: You said it very well, I think. (Applause).
Q. For Rita, just wanted to ask, did you speak with any of your fellow Kenyans before the race just to get an idea of the course; since you got here so late, did you talk to any of the other Kenyan runners to get an idea of how you should run today?
RITA JEPTOO: No. Because I'm not coming from Kenya; I come from Italy direct, so I come from Kenya two weeks before. But I train in Kenya one month and a half. But I think I'm alone with my coach. But my training is very good in Kenya and it is only this problem of the passport. But all things are very good, I don't have injury and I train very well. I hoped to come here trained very well, because this is my first big marathon and in Helsinki was my best time, 24. My coach is telling me, I hope to run very well, because I don't know if she knows if I can run good, because she train me and she don't come here because she have also problem for visa.
Q. So you came by yourself?
RITA JEPTOO: I come alone. So always problem. But I'm happy.
Q. Did you talk with any of your Kenyan countrywomen who have won this race before while you were over there, Catherine (Ndereba), perhaps?
Q. Your race in Helsinki had to give you a big confidence because you were able to run with Paula Radcliffe and some of the top runners for much of the race. Did you carry that confidence into this race?
RITA JEPTOO: I think in Helsinki, I don't know, because I come from behind and the first half of the marathon I come slow. And the last half of the marathon, I go fast, because I don't know, my body is not feeling very well to start. But when I run the last part of the marathon, I run fast. If I run by kilometer, it's the same as Catherine and Radcliffe, the last part third of the marathon. I don't know about Helsinki because I start and my body is not feeling well to start very fast.
Q. You got stronger as the race went along?
Q. Jelena, you were the only one of the three that has raced here before; did the underpass at all, the change in the course, did that have any effect on your race?
JELENA PROKOPCUKA: Yeah, I felt myself more stronger than two years ago. So the race was more easy for me today.
Q. This question is for Rita. Were you worried that Jelena would catch you in the last kilometer before the finish?
RITA JEPTOO: Yeah, of course. Because the last half, the last two kilometers, I looked behind and I saw Jelena, and I think she's coming to catch me, because everybody is very tired and I hope to -- I don't know. I don't know what to say, I'm happy because she finished number two behind me, and also, you are happy, and me, I'm happy. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We have a happy group here.
Q. It looked like you were really struggling when you were in those hills; how were you feeling through that, like when you dropped back a little bit?
REIKO TOSA: It was a tough race. I kept thinking Which one is the Heartbreak Hill, because all the hills were tough. (Laughter).
Q. Is there anything now looking back you might have wanted to do differently in the race?
JELENA PROKOPCUKA: No. I did all what I could.
REIKO TOSA: I did my best, so if I had to run over again, I would do the same tactics.
The only thing would be I would train harder to be tougher in the last five kilometers.
Q. I would like to know about your training over the last six months, the kind of training you did, the track training or long runs, whether you trained with other people or you trained alone and where you trained.
RITA JEPTOO: I trained in my home in Hedurat (ph) but the place where I train in my town, I train with Salena Kuskay (ph) and my coach.
THE MODERATOR: She trained with her coach and some of her teammates in her home.
Q. What kind of training did you do? Can you describe your training day? Lots of hills, long miles, short distances?
RITA JEPTOO: No, it's long. Because I do marathons, so I don't go short distance. It's long.
Q. You got here to Boston late; when did you arrive and did you get a chance to see the course?
RITA JEPTOO: I arrived on Friday.
Q. And did you get a chance to see or run on the course at all, or was the first time you saw it when you lined up?
Q. You started slow, because you said your body did not feel fast; when did you start feeling fast and how did you feel with maybe at 35 kilometers, were you very confident then?
RITA JEPTOO: I could feel when I'm at 35, but when I saw Jelena, I know Jelena and she is very strong, because this is the fastest time to run with these ladies. So I'm not feeling to go very fast, because I think she can -- she is faster than me, I don't know. But when I'm 38 kilometers, I'm feeling to go, I'm feeling to move, so I cannot wait. So I decide to go the last minute.
THE MODERATOR: At 38 kilometers is when she felt she could make her move.
We have Emily Levan, the top American finisher.
Q. The passport problem you talked about earlier, did you physically lose the passport, and how did you get it restored?
RITA JEPTOO: I don't know, because this is another story. Because I lose the passport, I don't know why I lose, I go to embassy and she told me she can send. At the last minute she told me that I write the wrong address, but I didn't write the wrong address because I know my address. And she told me, okay.
Q. Did you have the passport or was it at the embassy?
RITA JEPTOO: At the embassy.
THE MODERATOR: So she had a bad or wrong address for some reason, and that's how come she didn't get her passport.
Q. Just a technical question, this is at the embassy in Italy or in Kenya?
THE MODERATOR: Emily, you ran the marathon last year and you finished 12th. You're right there again, this year 13th. How would you judge your race this year as opposed to last year?
EMILY LEVAN: I feel like I had a great race this year. Coming into it, I wanted to hit a six-minute pace and pretty much hit that the whole way.
After last year, I struggled quite a bit last year during the race, just not feeling that great. So I was a little bit, I guess, cautiously optimistic about what I could do this year.
And just from the beginning of the race, I felt strong and confident and just decided to go for the six-minute pace that I had set for myself. I was able to maintain it throughout the whole race. I lost a little bit of time on some of the hills, but I was able to make up that time on the downhills. I just felt very strong the whole way and really pleased that I was able to put forth a good effort today.
THE MODERATOR: You're living in Maine right now?
Q. And you're in school studying to be a nurse?
EMILY LEVAN: I graduated in December and I'm currently working part-time as an emergency department nurse in a local hospital.
Q. How is that going with your training?
EMILY LEVAN: It's great. Working part-time makes it relatively easy to put the training in. Some of my days are long, I tend to work 12-hour shifts so I get up early on those days to get in some training runs, but it's worked out pretty well so far.
Q. Do you plan on coming back next year, and if you do, do you think you could do a little better, do you think, now that you know the course?
THE MODERATOR: She's laughing already.
RITA JEPTOO: No, I don't know about next year. I hope to come and to -- I know the course now, but if you know the course and you're not ready, it's useless. But when you are ready and you know the course, it's better. (Smiling).
Q. Emily, can you tell us what, if any, impact, the weather had for you today versus last year?
EMILY LEVAN: Sure, the weather was ideal today, really, except for the slight wind coming into the city. It was just a perfect day to run a race. The clouds and the cool temps were great. Especially for me, training in Maine, I'm not accustomed to the warm weather that we sometimes get in this race, especially after training through the winter.
So I think today, everything really fell into place quite nicely for me to have a good race and run a PR.
Q. You had a victory in Paris just about a month ago. Did that help you prepare for this race? The race that you ran in Paris last month, the half-marathon, did that put you in a good place coming into today?
RITA JEPTOO: To come here? I think when I come to Paris to run the half-marathon, already I know that I come to Boston. So I prepare for Boston; not for Paris.
Q. Emily, how many hours do you work, about, in a week? You say you work part-time?
EMILY LEVAN: I do, I work 24 hours a week, usually two 12-hour shifts.
Q. $100,000, minus taxes and the commission you'll have to pay your manager, is still a lot of money. Do you have any plans for what you would do with your winnings?
RITA JEPTOO: I don't know. I don't have to say, anything.
THE MODERATOR: She doesn't know. I don't think she's thought about it yet.
Q. You are a member of the BAA. What does it mean to you to be part of that club, and how did your team do today?
EMILY LEVAN: I feel really honored to be a part of the BAA. I joined up with the team shortly after this race last year. It's just been a great organization to be a part of, and I don't yet know how our team did. I know that Carly Gretek (ph), one of the other elite women ran a PR as well today. Last I heard, we were still waiting for some other results from the folks on our team. I'm hoping they were able to put forth a good effort today, too. I just hope I can continue to support our teammates and represent the BAA well.
Q. Did you talk to that other fine graduate from Boden College about what it's like to run in the marathon?
EMILY LEVAN: Joan Sammeson (ph) and I have talked about running and our successes, and it's really fun to represent the State of Maine and Boden College and hopefully I'll be able to continue to do so in future races.
Q. Was your daughter able to see you run today, and do you still get to train with her?
EMILY LEVAN: My daughter turned two in January, and I do quite a bit of training with her in a baby jogger, still, when the weather cooperates.
She was out there, I didn't see her on the course. They usually are at the corner of Commonwealth, so I missed them this year. We managed to teach her how to say "Go mom" earlier this week, so I'm sure she was out there yelling and screaming as she saw me running by.
Q. What was your time today?
Q. You keep getting faster, so what are your goals at this point?
EMILY LEVAN: Well, kind of my long-term goal right now is looking toward the 2008 Olympic trials. So between now and then, I want to see how much lower I can get my time. I was fortunate enough today to get underneath the A qualifying standard of 2:39, and that was one of my goals coming in.
So from here, I'm just going to take it one training cycle at a time, essentially, and see how much I can lower my time and how competitive I can make myself for the 2008 Olympic trials and see where we go from there.

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