DISMISS him at your peril was the clear message from Ireland’s Alastair Cragg as he put the pieces back together after dropping out of the record breaking Boston Marathon with a badly blistered left foot.
The race was won in brilliant fashion by the Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai in a sensational time of 2:03.02 which surpassed the previous world best time by 57 seconds.
The fact that Boston is a point-to-point course means the time will not count as a world record but Cragg would like to have been part of it.
“There may never be a day like that again,” he reflected.
“I felt good. I had run the perfect prep race in the New York Half Marathon and had left nothing to chance. I thought nothing could go wrong.
“Then my left foot began getting hot after two or three miles. I never had blisters before so I did not think much of it. It did not feel as if I was running hard. It felt easy. I decided not to think about the runners in front of me so I just looked down but each time I looked up I saw they were still there. I thought to myself I’ve had harder training sessions.”
But the pain in his foot was beginning to trouble him.
“The blister was the size of a tennis ball by the time I reached 11 miles. I realised that to run through to the finish like this would be crazy.
“I took a week off, did the odd jog and physically I felt great. I just wanted to get back running because I know I am ready to run.”
A couple of runs at the weekend caused him to change tack. Instead he will run in a 5,000m track race in Stanford on Sunday when he will line up alongside Mullingar man, Mark Christie.
“I will probably run 13:20 or slightly under — nothing special — because I am not sure if I can handle 64’s right now,” he said. “What I am aiming for is a 10,000m race the night before the Prefontein Classic. I think I can run sub 27:20 with some fine-tuning.”
He feels that he can have a track season and pursue his marathon ambitions at the same time: “I am not on funding at the moment so, right now, the world championships are secondary,” he said. “The target is a full marathon but maybe I can work it around a track season. If I get to the world championships in Daegu I feel I can finish in a top eight.
While some might prefer to highlight his disappointing performances there is no doubt about Cragg’s immense talent.
He was European indoor 3,000m champion in 2005 and his sixth placing two years later in Birmingham was regarded as a failure. He finished fourth at the world indoor championships in 2006 and was 12th in the 5,000m at the Athens Olympics.
While a student at University of Arkansas he won NCAA titles at both 5,000m and 10,000m as well as three indoor titles and he has turned in some battling performances against the Africans on the Grand Prix Circuit.
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