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November 4, 2007

Abderrahim Goumri

Martin Lel

Hendrick Ramaala


THE MODERATOR: We have our third place finisher here, Hendrick Ramaala, former champion. If you could just say a couple words about today's race.
HENDRICK RAMAALA: Hello, everybody. Are there any questions?
THE MODERATOR: Would you just say a couple words about the race, how the race went, how you ran today?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: I'm going to say I'm pleased to be in third place. I did what I had to do today. I had to take these tactics during the race, and I tried them out. I ended up third, so I'm pleased about it.
You know, the race was kind of confusing. It was from the start. I'm thinking a lot of guys didn't want to take control. They were just happy to sit in the back. And then I started out just too slow.
So by 10 kilometers I decided enough is enough, we have to start running. That's when I started surging.
But if some of the guys took the pace from the start and helped out, I was going to wait until maybe 27, 30 K to start running. I had to start running early today. It seems most of the guys didn't want to start. I don't know what their main plan was, but my plan, it didn't work out, so I had to go to plan B. I don't like running slow the first half because I get stuck in a slow pace. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. I prefer fast start and then we maintain. But the way we were running today, it seems we're going to run 67, 68 if we're not careful, and then we're going to get stuck there if we're not careful and then come back with 2:15.
THE MODERATOR: Just a brief recap on Hendrick's record, this is the first time in the last four years that he's been if the top three, he was second in 2005, 2004 he was the champion and now third again here.

Q. Do you ever think that you'll come to New York and run even pace the whole way? Would you ever consider trying to run at even pace?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: Yeah, I will do that if the pace is fast enough. Say if it's 64, 64 and a half, I'll sit behind and stay there until maybe Central Park on something. But the way things were going today, if you checked, I don't know, nobody wanted to go in front. It was windy. Nobody wanted to do the pace. Guys were just ready to sit behind and run. I don't know if that was their main plan. I think everybody had this plan.

Q. So did you get frustrated when you put in a short burst and then you reduced the pace and the pace just came back down?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: Yeah, that's how I run. I don't know how to make a pace. I think some guys were expecting me to do the pace. I wasn't ready to do the pacing. If I would go to the front I will set. I won't do the pace. I won't do the pace for the other guys to sit behind me.
If somebody went in front and they were running I'd stay behind because I was comfortable sitting behind, but I was sure the pace was taking us to at least 2:10. I wanted to run an Olympic qualifier under 2:12. For our country it's under 2:12, so it was in my mind, I need to run under 2:12 to make the team for Beijing. So I wasn't going to play around.

Q. Hendrick, throughout your career you have brought great excitement to the streets of New York. But today on 1st Avenue I've never seen such an exciting stretch as that. Can you describe what it was like with the burst of speed?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: It's funny, you know, because every time -- well, the first time, I don't know. I have a lot of energy there. So whenever I'm at First Avenue, whenever I see First Avenue, I get kind of energy, so I need to use it. The way it was, it was good to be out there because it wasn't too easy for me. I couldn't do anything about it. He looked too good for me. I had to test him in some way before he tested me. But I didn't succeed, but at least I tried. I'm feeling good because I tried.

Q. Would you have rather seen there be pacers early on? You said you weren't satisfied with the pace set by the runners. Would that have made the difference?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: The way I was thinking was like the whole group of guys were going to come in and then would run 64 and a half, 65, you know, together. And then we continued running just under two nine pace. You know, it's not just about winning. There are bonuses and rewards for running faster. But I think most of the guys forgot that there were rewards for running fast today. Somehow I had to do it. Seems like nobody was ready to do it today.

Q. But if there had been pacers there at a 2:09 pace or a 64:30 pace at halfway, would people have paid attention to them, or would they have done the same thing anyway?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: People would have -- no, I mean, this is the first time without pacers. Normally history will tell us people follow pacemakers when there are pacemakers. This time we decided we don't want pacemakers. So today it was the first time to run without pacemakers, like kind of championship.
The winner was still 2:09 like say the year before. 2:09 had been the winning time for several years here, so pacemakers, no pacemakers, it didn't make a big difference when it comes to winning times. But it made a big difference coming to tactics.
THE MODERATOR: We have our champion here Martin Lel and our runner-up Abderrahim Goumri. What I would like to do is just ask Martin, our 2003 New York City Marathon Champion and our 2007 ING New York City Marathon Champion, also a two-time winner of the Flora London Marathon to say a couple words and then we'll have Abderrahim say a couple words for questions. Martin?
MARTIN LEL: Okay, thanks very much. My first thanks to ING for inviting me for the accommodations for the 2007.
What I can say is that since 2003 I have choose the New York City marathon really credits me like a ceremony because I really want New York City Marathon, and on that time I really realized that I'm now ready for these big races. That is why whenever I'm being invited in the New York City Marathon like today, I need to think twice, and I need to feel ready because I know it's a very tough race like these major five races.
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: First of all, I want to thank everybody here and I want to thank the organization for taking me to compete in the New York Marathon. I think it's a very, very good marathon, and I come here to defend the champion of London Marathon because I was second. I am so happy to finish second. I think it's a good race here after the London Marathon, and I hope I can come here next year, and I want to do a good race.

Q. Abderrahim, you were running close again to Martin in London, same as here. What were you thinking down those last miles?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: This is the question they give to me yesterday on NBC television. I think I work a lot to do -- toward the finish because I lost this year the London Marathon like the same. I work very, very hard, but a lot of people -- you know, afterwards for one month I can't train very hard, and it's three weeks just to -- it's so close to make a good shape and to come here.
But I hope for next year I have more time. I have two weeks more, and I hope I can again fighting to be a champion of New York.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, maybe say something about -- this was a replay or the similarities compared to the London race. Did you feel like you had done this before, just beating -- the fact that you were first and second in London.
MARTIN LEL: I think on my side is when I have a chance to compare London and New York, I think it gives me some headache somehow, especially when we were just approaching 25 miles. That is why I tried to use tactics, and when I was in front, but I felt that the tactics helped me win. At that time I tried to slow down to make sure that this guy -- he became a problem, so I tried harder. There is many ways of killing a rat. If I try this side and it doesn't work you have to try the other side. What I was doing is maybe during the last sprint, sometimes you can lose, sometimes you can gain. So I said, let me try to see. But it was hard for this guy. I can say he is a man who has been around this time. I can say that Ramaala and Goumri and other guys really gave me a hard time, but I find that my foot was excellent, and I can say I like -- to be a champion, you have to be a champion fighting with the man.

Q. Could you describe the atmosphere of the moment of silence and your reaction to the runner's death yesterday?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: You know, it give us a hard time yesterday when we hear. It's one of the best athletes of United States died yesterday. I really was not -- it's not good for us because we just take a lot of time for that man because he was a big athlete. I was very sorry for him and for his family and for the United States, too.

Q. Martin, with the World Marathon Majors providing such a huge incentive, would you consider adding more marathons to your schedule as some have done like Berlin and New York, for example, with the goal of winning the World Marathon Majors next year?
MARTIN LEL: I think maybe next year I need to try to compete among the five majors because these five majors is one of the biggest races in the world. So I think I'll be -- the will of God, I will try to run, to try these five majors.

Q. Martin, was today like a championship race without any pacemaker? Do you think it will be enough for you to make the team, the Kenya team, for the Olympics next year?
MARTIN LEL: I think on the side of Olympics, I can only say that what is in my heart is that I need to do the event and I need to do the event because always actions speak louder than words, so I need to do my work.
On the side of this race, the New York City Marathon, I think it was a privilege for me not to have pacemakers because on the side of Olympics I hear there are some pacemakers, and I think it was good for me to test myself what I can handle without pacemakers, and I feel it was very exciting for me.

Q. Martin, were you surprised when Hendrick started doing those very hard surges in Brooklyn early in the race?
MARTIN LEL: I think what I can say is that I was not very surprised because I was very ready. That is why whenever this friend of mine tried to speed up a little bit, I was ready to be close with him so there are no surprises with me.

Q. Abderrahim, you didn't run your first marathon until this year. What made you decide to become a marathoner, and how do you feel now that you have done two of them?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: Yeah, it was a difficult New York Marathon, and it's the third marathon I run. I think it gave me confidence to be a champion of marathon in the future. I just now London and New York, they teach me a lot to be a good marathoner. I hope I train very well for the future, and I want to win this world major in the future.

Q. The race today, like yesterday's, had a really big negative split, the second half much faster than the first. Hendrick suggested that without pacemakers that might have been why the first half was so slow. Were you expecting after the first half that the second half would be that much faster?
MARTIN LEL: Yes, what I was expecting is I was expecting maybe that the last half to be much faster because we didn't go fast the first half by my friend Ramaala, and I was thinking that the second half would be much faster than the first half.

Q. Based on yesterday's trials, do you think the American team is a world class team capable of competing against everybody out there?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: I think if the team of the States is coming today to run with us, I think they give us a hard time because they run very fast. The weather yesterday is not like today. I think they are ready for Olympics and they hope they can give States a medal for marathon in the Olympics.
MARTIN LEL: What I can say is that I didn't see what happened yesterday, but I really heard what happened. I can see that the men of yesterday are really ready for the race, and that is why when I talked with my coach, he was telling me that we would really have a rough time today if the guy was there because the guy was really excited for the race.
THE MODERATOR: Hendrick, any comments about the strength of the U.S. team?
HENDRICK RAMAALA: Yes, U.S. run is very exciting. These days I couldn't predict who was going to run. The way the field was, that was amazing. I saw that boy for the first time in London, and we knew he was ready. And then we had Branson and Reese did very well. Couldn't predict the results. First I thought Abdi was going to make the team. A lot of surprises yesterday. But the top 10 did well, 2:15 all of them. The States team is up there. But the challenge is to come and compete with the likes of the Kenyans and the Africans, all of us, and then we'll see. I think they will do it.

Q. Abderrahim, can you tell us where you train and how you got into running in the first place?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: I come from the city of -- it's not a big city. It's south of capital of Morocco. But that city, they did give us a lot of athletes like the brother of William ease and ash I had Ramsay. We trained -- in Morocco we have special training. We have one at high altitude, and we have a hard program to produce a lot of good athletes.

Q. Where do you train at altitude? What is that area called?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: An area called Ifrane. It's 1,600 meters, and get up to 2,000 meters. But there is many places in Morocco that we have discovered now, and there is some guys that go there, and I go there, too.

Q. It appeared that the race was going to come down to the kick. Abderrahim, you have the great track experience and the experience from London. What were your thoughts coming in? And Martin, all the Kenyans know that you are the guy with the biggest kick for the Kenyans. Were you always confident to wait until the final stretch?
ABDERRAHIM GOUMRI: For me, this guy come from the track, we know we have some speed for the guy that has experience in marathon. But that's not -- he's very strong. I start now to change my rhythm in 35 K and 40 K, and I think that I get some cramps in my legs and I lose. That's sport, you know, one loser, one winner, it's okay. But I think I did good race and I am happy to be here and compete here.

Q. Martin, since your friend lost the world record, would you like to make an attempt to get the time next?
MARTIN LEL: What I know is not something we can say. Anyway, it was a surprise what happened, but we need to try our best as Kenyans especially to see whether we can retain the title comeback to Kenya.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to thank our champion, our runner-up, our third-place finisher. Just a reminder that both our men's and women's champions will be at a press conference tomorrow here at the Tavern on the Green, which is our custom.

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