If all goes well for both Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai and Ethiopia's Firehiwot Dado in Monday's 116th Boston Marathon, they could go down in history together. In the 43 years since the inaugural ING New York City Marathon, no duo of reigning New York champions has ever won Boston together the following year. Mutai set a course record of 2:05:06, while Dado prevailed in 2:23:15.
Even if they don't triumph as a pair, either one of them winning Boston on the heels of New York would be noteworthy. Not since Margaret Okayo won New York in 2001 and Boston in 2002 has a woman accomplished the feat, and you'd have to go back 30 years to Alberto Salazar (New York 1981, Boston 1982) for the men.
Mutai has the chance to do something even more special. Already the defending champion in Boston and the reigning champion in New York, Mutai has the chance to become the first man since Bill Rodgers to win Boston–New York–Boston (1978–1979).
Mutai and Dado were interviewed at a media opportunity Friday morning in advance of Monday's race, the weather forecast for which was a major topic of conversation: Some forecasters are calling for highs in the low 80s in Hopkinton and mid-70s in Boston, with a chance of isolated thunderstorms.
Question: You're the favorite coming into this race. What do you hope to do on Monday?
Mutai: Obviously, what I can say—when God wills, I cannot plan anything or I cannot say "I can do this." only the day will come and I will do my best.
Q: You will be running to both defend your crown and to earn a spot on the Kenyan Olympic team, yes?
Mutai: Yes, I will try to defend myself and my focus is on the Olympics. This was my preparation for the Olympics. This was my bridge to the Olympics.
Q: Geoffrey, you won Boston and you won New York last year. Do you think winning both of those proves you are as fast as you know you are, even though you didn't get the [official] world record last year?
Mutai: Yes, yes, yes. I'm still happy. Although even for me, they didn't recognize the world record, but I'm happy. Because if I was to say it was affecting me, I would not have won New York. It would only be psychological. But I sat down and said "I'm still focusing and I'll still do more to come."
Q: Last year you had good weather in Boston, this year maybe not. How will that affect your time?
Mutai: Normally, it is not easy to repeat a run with the same time. For me, what will happen will happen. I will not force myself because of nature. God knows why, and I will do my best to see how I run.
Q: Do you think you are better this year than you were last year before Boston?
Mutai: For me, up to now, I don't know myself. Normally, I know myself in the race, but to compare myself with last year, I don't know. Because after training, I trained well like last year, so I don't see a difference.
Q: Have you been using the same training method for this year?
Mutai: Yes, I have never changed my method. I train always hard.
Q: When did you first start running competitively? Did you run as a child?
Mutai: Yes, I ran as a child. When I was young, I started running because I think it was in my blood. Even when I was staying in my own home, I felt the need to run when someone sent me to go somewhere. It would happen even when I was in school, when I was in class, but when you go outside, I found myself running to washrooms faster.
Q: Is there anyone you will keep in mind as a rival for Monday?
Mutai: Everyone when they come to race, they prepare themselves for winning. You must prepare yourself. Everyone when they come to the race, I know they have prepared themselves well. I know the competition is not easy. Even to run is not easy.
Q: Can you talk more about what the past year has been like for you?
Mutai: Up to now, last year I remember it was a big deal because I was running in America. This year I do my best. On Monday we will wait and see, because up to now I don't know how it will be.
Q: Do you think the hills of Boston fit you as a runner?
Mutai: I like Boston and I like the course, because normally I train on the same courses like this. So I like it.
Q: Do you feel any pressure going into Monday knowing that the Athletic Federation of Kenya is watching and that you have to prove to them that you are the top three for the Olympics?
Mutai: For me, it's a lot of pressure, but I don't let myself relax because even if it is not an Olympic year I must run in the race. I will try to do my best, because normally you have to be the winner. The winner is here, but normally you don't know who is who. So for me, I will try my best to see if I can do it.
Question: How has your preparation gone?
Dado: My preparation is very well. I will run very well here, like in New York.
Q: The weather may be warm on Monday. How do you feel about that?
Dado: It's not a bad deal for me, whether it's warm or not. The weather will not affect me.
Q: The last four years in Boston have seen close finishes for the women. What about this year?
Dado: Boston is one of the best marathons in the world. They invite very strong athletes and that's why the athletes finish close. I saw the finish from last year on TV. There will be no difference on Monday than in the past years.
Q: Would you prefer a sprint finish down Boylston Street?
Dado: I prefer it if I come from 41 or 42 kilometers alone if there is the opportunity.
Q: Were you surprised to win the ING New York City Marathon last fall?
Dado: Yes, I was very surprised.
Q: Buzunesh Deba, whom you worked with over the last miles in New York, is here. Will you work together again?
Dado: We haven't talked about anything yet but I am sure we will do something like in New York.
Q: What do you think you have to do on Monday to get named to the Olympic team for Ethiopia?
Dado: Maybe if I win the Boston Marathon we will see what the federation decides. This is not my decision.
Q: Have you seen the Boston course yet?
Q: Will you preview it before Monday?
Dado: No. I come to run. I didn't see the New York course either.