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November 6, 2011

Mary Wittenberg


RICHARD FINN: New York Road Runner President and CEO. Mary Wittenberg.
MARY WITTENBERG: This will be short because I don't even know what to say anymore. I mean this event is everything that we bill it as and more. It is absolutely a spectacle that is beyond belief. It is something that is truly so much bigger than any one of us, any team, any group. It has a way of taking over everybody that's involved in it and taking over the city.
Once again, today I can hardly keep the lump out of my throat as you stand there at the start, and you look at all these athletes who have put so much into this, and you look at the city agencies and our team, and so many people who have risked a lot and put every effort into getting there, and you know that they're putting themselves out on the stage in front of the world to try to do something that millions and millions of people don't make the same gamble to try to do.
To see people out there at every stage of this course, the spectators are supporting this. It's freezing cold in the shade in Brooklyn, in Queens, and this course is packed full of people.
Then you get to the finish line, and you watch these athletes, and it's nothing short of overwhelming to see the way they perform, from watching Mary Keitany. I could see on my iPad, she ran the way I watched her run in the UK and in the World Half Marathon Championships. This is a woman who has no fear, especially impressive after being humbled in New York last year. She just pushes it out. I give her huge kudos for running like that.
Obviously, what an exciting women's finish, to have Dado totally unheralded come in here and up end the woman's field and the story to take the win.
Of course, Buzunesh Deba, what a big story to have her from the Bronx, training here. She's become a New Yorker with Silver on the podium, so that was huge. I can pause for a breath.
I saw a lot more of the men's race. Everybody was there for so long. And, again, very, very honest pace from the beginning. Exciting to see Meb in the mix. I thought Gebremariam looked like he was running really, really, really smart. And Geoffry and Emanuel pushing as we knew they would. So just spectacular. But all the way through from the start, we're still going strong. It's just remarkable how tough these people are to beat this distance.
Then to watch people over and over again in the pro race try to get the best of themselves and beat each other, then to watch the regular people whether it's Mark Messier or Apolo Ohno or the people's names you don't know, they're pushing it to this finish line. They are not just getting through 26.2.
I began the week by talking about the triumph of the human spirit, and I think about three-quarters through the day, I can only say to me it only gets more overwhelming that this is what it's all about. I think my favorite moment will go down this year as watching Jack Waitz somehow fly across that finish line.

Q. Honestly, how surprised were you with the men's finish time? Did you think something that fast is possible?
MARY WITTENBERG: Yes. Yes. I believe this is a 2:04 course. I really do. I think that this course you have to run really smart on, and I think they did. If you think about it, the first half was fast. The second half just beats the hell out of people, and you've got to roll into the second half strong and tough and with much more left in you to really beat it.
But I think that was an extraordinary performance. To take 2-plus minutes off that record says a lot more about Geoffry Mutai than it says about our course.

Q. I'm just curious, I assumed it was, but apparently it's non-conforming to IWF record for a marathon?
MARY WITTENBERG: No, it's world record certified. It is world record worthy.
It's a tough, tough course. I was talking to Richard. And he said Mary's at 2:14 pace, and my only thought to be honest was that's too bad, because I bet she can run 2:17, 2:16 on this course. But 2:14 on this course has got to be the equivalent of 2:11 high or 2:12.

Q. Did you see Mark Messier at the finish, and how was he?
MARY WITTENBERG: I spent a lot of time with Mr. Messier. I was so prepared for him to finish like that. He was so serious about this from the time I met him at the Empire State Building three weeks ago. He absolutely -- some of you heard me say this -- he knew what this was about. He treated it with huge respect. He trained. But you could tell he knew it was going to be tough. He also, as you sat in that press conference, you saw that he was going to give it his best as he said he would. So I knew he would cross that line with nothing left, and that's the way he crossed that line.
He ran 4:14 something. He immediately said he was full of inspiration. He later went on to say -- well, I think we sent some quotes over.

Q. It was one sentence, "it's a day of inspiration," and "I feel great." But there are pictures all over the wire. The guy's in a wheelchair.
MARY WITTENBERG: I don't think I heard him say, "I feel great." But he said he's full of inspiration, and he was very -- he's totally fine. He's home.

Q. He didn't go off to an emergency room?
MARY WITTENBERG: No, no, no. He was just taken home. His wife's with him. He's fine. He's totally fine. Classic. See, this is the challenge, because we should find a way to get news faster. Totally, totally fine. Classic. He left it all on the course.
Pretty similar to Amani Toomer last year. Amani was standing, but very, very similar. They leave it on the course. There is no taking the world class athlete out of the world class athlete.
So he was definitely -- he just needed food, fluids, get off his feet, but he was fine. He was fine.
Probably the mistake was my mistake. Because I took him left when he just needed to sit down. Then once someone that big sits down, you've got to put them in -- we had to move him out, so then he had to go into a wheelchair, so it probably all looked more dramatic. I should have just taken him right and then he would have been fine.
I think he was pretty moved. And I was pretty moved by that performance.

Q. I know you and the New York City Marathon like to bring people into the sport, and you had a great debut class of Americans coming to run. Have you talked with a lot of them? Are they ready to come next year?
MARY WITTENBERG: I never would ask that question of an athlete as they cross the finish line. I felt for Bobby Curtis, because Ed had a few people, Ed Moran, but Bobby was off the back early, probably four or five miles, so I knew that was going to be a long day. But he seemed actually in pretty good spirits finishing. Lauren the same way.
I give them credit. I think there is an advantage, a bit of an advantage by putting yourself out there before you're fully ready. I think they both went into it, think they went into it with realistic expectations. I think the challenge is once you get here, you get pretty excited. I think they'll be okay. They both seemed okay at the finish.
I didn't get to talk to Kisorio at all, so I don't know how he is. But the Americans seemed okay.

Q. For Ed, that is a pretty impressive debut?
MARY WITTENBERG: I thought so too. I thought he ran really smart. Ed started very conservatively. When I saw him at probably again mile four, mile five, he had a small pack with him, and it looked like he had a chance to catch up to Bobby, and it looked like he was just trying to hold back. I think this race certainly meant a lot to him coming from Staten Island.

Q. Is there anyone in all of the athletes that you got here that had the toughest road to get here that you were most surprised about or anything like that?
MARY WITTENBERG: Let me look at the list so I can think about it. I tell you the athlete that outperformed any expectation was Jack Waitz. I mean, he hadn't been running.
I'll tell you now, that I really wanted to run the race with him because we run a lot. So I did three 20 milers, but I'm just not ready. We have a phenomenal team but I just didn't feel that it was right that I was out of my job for that long. The first thing I said was, good thing, because I probably couldn't have kept up. He really ran smart, and he used Grete's plan of walking every minute after like the first 10K, walking a minute every mile or so. He was fresher than most everybody that finished.
There are so many of these athletes that overcame a lot to be here. I wouldn't call anybody out here. I think a lot of really impressive performances. Tough days too. You see tough days all over the place. It's a tough day for Werknesh Kidane. Tough day. But that's what these athletes put themselves out there.
I tell you, I'm always impressed by Meb. Meb just, you know, he goes. He believes in himself. I don't think Meb feels bound by convention. He does what he thinks is the most important thing for him to do. I respect his coming to New York, and I respect his running fully all the way to the finish line. I think it would have been easy for him to come in here and any time he had a self doubt, back off and say, I better save it for January; but that's just not Meb.

Q. I don't know if you heard that he had to stop and throw up on the course?
MARY WITTENBERG: He said at the finish. He said to me at the beginning it's a PR day. I said, Meb, you've had so many strong performances here, your PR should be here. And he crossed the line and he said PR. He said if only I didn't have to stop and throw up, maybe it would have been better.

Q. I don't know if you were apprised of this but were there any medical issues; I heard 117?
MARY WITTENBERG: I've been over to medical. We're still very much in the thick of things. Right now nothing to report. Taking care of a lot of people on the course. Taking care of a lot of people at the finish. Very much in line with what we would expect on a day like today.
I think it actually got a little bit warm for runners. It's cool now, but it was a pretty perfect day. But so far nothing to report. I'm happy to say. It's still active. Very active out there. But nothing to report.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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