Marathon: Smith hits form in Boston run-in

By Steve Landells

Kim Smith. Photo / Richard Robinson
Kim Smith. Photo / Richard Robinson

New Zealand distance running star Kim Smith believes the Boston Marathon on April 18 is "winnable" and she can emulate the achievements of Lorraine Moller, the last Kiwi to triumph in Boston some 27 years ago.

Smith believes she is in the best shape of her career after enjoying an untroubled preparation, including an eye-catching half-marathon lifetime best of 1h 07m 36s in New Orleans in February.

In fact, such is her confidence, she has not ruled out her debut marathon success in Boston - one of the five leading global big-city marathons which comprise the World Marathon Majors series.

"I think it is a winnable race, and, if I won it, it would mean a lot," Smith told the Herald on Sunday from her training base in Providence, Rhode Island. "The plan is to win but there are about 15 girls in the race who have the same plan. Having said that, I don't think there is anyone in the race who is a huge standout.

"I'm really excited to run Boston. I've heard it's a pretty cruel race, so I'm excited to be doing it."

Smith is not among the fastest half dozen in the elite women's field which includes the likes of Ethiopia's defending champion Teyba Erkesso and former New York Marathon podium finisher Kara Goucher of the US.

However, previous times are not always the determining factor on a course notorious for its hilly terrain and variable spring weather.

In London 12 months ago, Smith shattered Allison Roe's longstanding New Zealand record to finish eighth in 2h 25m 21s. In New York - a much more undulating course - she recorded 2h 29m 28s but finished fifth.

Roe believes Kim Smith could be in shape to run "the race of her life" in Boston. Roe, who triumphed in the race 30 years ago in a then course record of 2h 26m 46s, believes pacing is the key to running a good race strategy and has advised Smith to be cautious in the first half of the race so as not to suffer in the hilly second phase of the race.

However, Roe is excited by what the current New Zealand marathon record holder could achieve in Boston.

"She seems to have a long, relaxed stride - and relaxation is the key to running a good Boston. I expect based on her recent 67m half marathon in New Orleans, while still in heavy training, that she is perfectly positioned to freshen up and run a blinder."

Smith modestly describes her 2010 season as "okay" and was disappointed not to place higher in the 'Big Apple.' However, the Papakura athlete is insistent her preparations for Boston have gone much more smoothly.

The Rhode Island-based Smith lives just 45 minutes away from Boston and has taken advantage by running large segments of the course.

"It's a really hard course," admitted Smith who runs between 160km and 190km a week. "I am not sure how the downhills and the uphills are going to affect me but I'll give it a go.

"It is definitely harder than I thought. I really thought the [first half of the] course was going to be downhill a lot more than it actually is. It definitely scared me a bit seeing it."

Smith plans to run another marathon in the Northern Hemisphere autumn but has not decided if she will contest the world championships.

- Herald on Sunday

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