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NAZ Elite This Week: Rosario mulling over a botched Boston
NAZ ELITE THIS WEEK

NAZ Elite This Week: Rosario mulling over a botched Boston

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Boston's back: Kenya's Kipyogei wins women's marathon

The elite men, with NAZ Elite's Rory Linkletter and Scott Fauble and Scott Smith to the left,  make their way through Hopkinton, Mass., in the first mile of the 125th Boston Marathon on Monday

Ben Rosario's been busy thinking about Boston.

The head coach of NAZ Elite sent four total runners to the World Marathon Major but the group failed to produce a top-10 finish and overall botched the day. It was the first time the team failed to produce a top-10 finisher when sending two or more runners to a world major.

Rosario thought his group of four, the most NAZ Elite's ever sent to a world major at once, was overall extremely fit and ready to shine in a race in which the team has had success in the past. He felt like they were prepared.

“We just didn’t perform up to our standards," Rosario said Wednesday while working from his office. "That’s the bottom line, and I think that not only did we not perform to our standards, but we didn’t perform to the level that I thought we were capable of. That’s what’s really hard to take.”

It's the kind of thing that keeps coaches up at night.

“That’s all I am doing," Rosario said of trying to figure out how to avoid a future bad outing like Boston.

It wasn't all doom and gloom on Monday. Scott Smith ran a solid race, clocking a 2:14:29 for 17th overall. He was the fourth American male to finish the race, coming in one place behind teammate Scott Fauble, whose 16th-place result came with a time of 2:13:47 and landed him as the third overall American finisher.

Rosario said he thought Smith, 35, came to the race with an open mind and ready to run light.

“It’s funny because sometimes you put so much stock in the training, but the truth is that his training didn’t look all that great on paper," Rosario said. "But he just ran the race well. He was fit enough and he ran with confidence and enjoyed himself out there.”

Rory Linkletter's training, on the other hand, had gone well, but the young runner, competing in his third marathon ever, finished 37th overall as he faded on his way to the finish line for a time of 2:23:34.

Linkletter started off fairly strong, running the first half of the race in 1:06:22, but then the struggles and cramps really began to show in the times. The Canadian toward the end of the race was averaging nearly a seven-minute pace per mile.

Linkletter's outing left the team with a giant question mark for a runner who quickly upon joining the roster set the team's record for the half marathon at 1:01:44 and was showing gains each time he went out as a marathoner.

“That’s not something that usually happens to us," Rosario said. "Finishing races and running strong all the way through, that’s been a staple of our program. So the fact the he was struggling out there and basically balked and ran out of energy and basically jogged it in, that’s just something that doesn't usually happen to us.”

With fall foliage replacing the blooming daffodils and mylar blankets sharing space with masks, the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon returned Monday after a 30-month absence for a smaller, socially distanced race that ended in a very familiar way.Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei completed a Kenyan sweep the eighth since 2000 at the world's oldest and most prestigious 26.2-miler, which moved from its traditional spring date for the first time in its 125-year history because of the coronavirus outbreak.We were injured, wounded. Now is the comeback story, said 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi, one of the past champions sharing grand marshal duties with hospital employees who worked through the pandemic. Hopefully this is an example that post-pandemic, life is getting back to normal.SEE MORE: 125th Running Of The Boston Marathon Is UnderwayAlthough organizers put runners through COVID-19 protocols and asked spectators to keep their distance, there were still sizable crowds in spots from Hopkinton to Boston after an early drizzle cleared and temperatures rose into the 60s.Participants in the field of 18,000 down from more than 30,000 in pre-pandemic days needed to test negative for the coronavirus or prove they were vaccinated before picking up their bib numbers. Masks were required indoors in Boston and on the buses out to the start; they also were handed out along with the finishers' medals and fruit on Boylston Street.The race also began earlier and with a rolling send-off to avoid the usual crowding in the starting corrals and on the course. None of the changes proved a problem for the Kenyans.Theres not a lot different on the course, Kipruto said.A winner in Prague and Athens who finished 10th in Boston in 2019, Kipruto broke away from the lead pack as it turned onto Beacon Street with about three miles to go and broke the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds. Lemi Berhanu, who won the race in 2016, was second, 46 seconds back; Colin Bennie of Princeton, Massachusetts, was the top American, in seventh.Kipyogei claimed the women's title, a gilded olive wreath and the $150,000 first prize, finishing in 2:24:45 in her major marathon debut. Edna Kipligat, the 2017 winner, was second, 23 seconds behind.Marcel Hug won the mens wheelchair race despite making a wrong turn in the final mile, finishing the slightly detoured route just seven seconds off his course record in 1:08:11. Manuela Schr, also from Switzerland, won the womens wheelchair race in 1:35:21.Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Fauble ran into his own struggles during the race that saw the competitors battle a headwind.

Rosario said right around the 14th to 15th mile, runners in a leading pack started to make a move, and Fauble lost his attachment to the group at that moment and was never able to connect with it again, even having to stop at the bathroom around the 18th mile for a quick break while dealing with stomach issues.

“I think that he gave his absolute best effort the rest of the way, but you are just out of it at that point," Rosario said.

Julie Griffey, the fourth athlete and lone woman representing NAZ Elite at Boston, came away with a 30th-place finish and a time of 2:39:53.

“I don’t think it was such a poor day that there needs to be wholesale changes. I think when Scott and Scott are the third and fourth Americans, and are in the top 20 and basically a couple minutes away from what would have been amazing marathons, there's some good there. It’s a fine line at the professional level," Rosario said.

It didn't take Rosario long to start finding some possible solutions to avoid more bad outings. He said NAZ Elite and the Boston group in particular really went for big swings during the training segments. The big workouts have ended up leading to success for the team in the past -- for instance, in Boston of 2019 and the Olympic Marathon Trials. But now, he said, he wonders if utilizing medium-level workouts during segments might be necessary.

“I just think that in the Boston training segment we relied really, really heavily and put a ton of emphasis on four or five monster workouts. And that’s fine if they all go well," Rosario said. "But if they don’t, then you are missing a lot of physical and mental work, and maybe that bites you.”

Despite the disappointment with Boston, NAZ Elite has a prime opportunity on the horizon to rebound when it takes on the New York City Marathon in early November.

And that's one less thing Rosario has to think too hard about, as he says that NYC group is training just how he'd like it to be at this point.

Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at mhartman@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @AZDS_Hartman.

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