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November 5, 2006

Alberto Salazar

Joan Benoit Samuelson


ALBERTO SALAZAR: It's been 20 years since I've been back and it brought back a lot of memories. The support that Lance got was pretty incredible. Obviously I was not up there anywhere near the leaders, I don't know what the yelling was like. Thinking back to 24 years ago, remembering the support from the crowds back then, I think it was real similar for Lance out there today. It was interesting because my job was to try and keep him from going out too fast, and so last night we met and he was talking about wanting to go out at 6:40 pace, and we talked about his overall goal that he wanted to get under three hours, was the main goal. It was very hard to hold him back in my defense, we would slow down and run a couple 7-minute miles. For him cardiovascularly it was very easy, he could talk much better than I could talk during the race.
But I knew the hard thing on him was going to be the pounding on him on his legs by the finish. We were just about 6:45, 46 per mile and Joan took over and I saw her for a few seconds and yelled at her that she had to keep going to the a 7:00 pace and we had to slow down and she can tell you what happened at that point.
THE MODERATOR: Take it from there, Joan, the atmosphere, have you ever encountered everything like that?
JOAN SAMUELSON: As Alberto said, there was a ton of support out there for Lance and I tried it heed his advice, but it was hard to keep the rein on him. He was also at that point running with Silva, and Silva was helping out a lot as well.
He said, "I feel so good, I feel so good. "I said, well, you haven't hit Mile 17 yet."
I have never used my elbows like I had today in road racing, but there are a lot of groupies out there, a lot of well-wishers, and he was very gracious with the runners, as well as the crowds.
We were running a lot -- we had a 6:33 mile, I think that was our fastest mile and then we were 7:09 on the bridge. He was pretty even throughout the race. Every three miles for water, he slowed down a little bit in Harlem but he was strong. That three-hour time was, you know, in his head and at 20 miles, I wasn't sure whether I was going to bail and let Hashim take him or I would stay, and I decided I would stay a little bit behind. Hashim took him out a little fast, and at that point I just started working with him and Hashim, trying to have him target different runners in front of us. I knew it was going to be close to three hours.
We worked in tandem to try to get him under three hours, and it was really tight. Like most marathoners, when you're looking at the clocks, you think 26 miles is your end point, but it's 26.2, and that .2 really came into play today.
THE MODERATOR: Kristin Armstrong in 2004 ran 3:45:53.

Q. Could you clarify your elbows, you were elbowing away people?
JOAN SAMUELSON: There were a lot of people -- I was just trying to give Lance a clear path. That was critical. There was a lot of exhaust coming out of the press vehicle as well, so I was trying to move the vehicle -- they were fairly cooperative. But there were crowds in front of us, and Lance, very few people passed us. I mean, Lance from ten miles on just started to pass people.
And so we were trying to clear a path for him and with the press vehicle there and the runners in front of the press vehicle, it was very difficult. And then, you know, we're trying to cut the tandems on the turns. It was hard to see a lot of the turns with the crowd of runners in front of us.

Q. I'm wondering, most of the attention today seems to be on Lance Armstrong, and I'm wondering, as marathon champions, if you're worried at all that takes some of the attention away from the people who won the race.
ALBERTO SALAZAR: I don't really look at it as a negative. The more people that are drawn to our sport at all levels, the better. I think that for all the running and racing purists out there that want to look and see exactly what the winning times were for the men and women, what the times were for the first top five or six, they are all going to do that. But what Lance does is he brings other people into our sport. You know, it's up to you, the media as to who you're going to concentrate your story on, and I don't think Joany and I are thinking that you should by any means overlook the elite runners that finished, you know, up at the front of the fields. But we think that Lance is a good thing for the sport, and in terms of that, it creates excitement for people that perhaps are not really that interested in who finishes in the top five overall, but are interested that this guy can come out here and run a sub-three-hour marathon.
The great thing about this club is that it was never about just having an elite race one time of the year. There are many races around the world that do that. The New York Road Runners Club is about getting people out running throughout the entire year. They have dozens, if not hundreds of events, throughout the New York City area through the entire year. They sponsor the Team USA running centers throughout the country. Fred Labot was always about pushing the sport of running, not just the New York City Marathon. Lance Armstrong has hopefully been an example to other people out there that they can come out and run a marathon; that they don't have to have pencil-thin legs like me and Joany; that they can look like Lance and come out here and run?

Q. Joan, it looked like you were talking to Lance quite a bit, can you sort of mention what you were telling him to do?
JOAN SAMUELSON: Well, just typical marathon comments. You know, just he seemed very tight with his arms. His arm carriage was high and tight. I just tried to tell him to shake out his arms periodically. Also, his breathing, you know, to slow it down in places.
He actually was very strong but you know, just take the breaths from deep in his abdomen and slow down the breathing a bit. I told him when turns were coming up, I asked him if he needed water at certain places where water was offered. You know, just things like that. He had problems with shin splints before the marathon, and his right leg was bothering him a bit and I just tried to tell him to alter the length of his stride and to toe off a little bit and things like that.

Q. Talk about the finishers of the Americans.
ALBERTO SALAZAR: Today was a sub-par race for both of them, I know in Meb, his coach, they don't give excuses but I'll give excuses for him, he was sick. Meb went into this race being sub-par and he's enough of a champion, you never know exactly if you're going to be recovered or not, and obviously he wasn't.
I think Meb has been very consistent and I think that he will continue to be very consistent and strong, and the same with Deena. It just wasn't their day today. I think overall the U.S. is getting better in terms of distance running and marathoning. We can't look at any one race and we can't look at the pattern over the past couple of years and things are definitely looking brighter. We do have to realize that we are up against a formidable number of great competitors from Eastern Africa that are at a very high level. Even though we may have a larger population base, there are probably more east African elite runners than there are by far American runners. They are running at a very young age.
You know, they are very talented and they are working very hard. Anyone that thinks we are going to get back there very quickly or that we will ever have those numbers is not being realistic. We will be competitive again, but it would be unrealistic to think that the U.S. will ever dominate marathoning again.

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