NEW CANAAN, Conn., -- Even though an American man won the Boston Marathon on Monday for the first time in 30 years, New Canaan's Ron Rosenfeld said he doesn’t expect the victory to spark a great surge in people taking to the area's streets and roadways.
“The only time there is a perk in running is when there is an Olympic year,” said Rosenfeld, who owns the New Balance New Canaan running store. But people who are already interested in long-distance running do get inspiration from marathon wins, he said.
“Marathons get people going if you are into the longer distances,” Rosenfeld said.
Meb Keflezighi became the first American man since Greg Meyer in 1983 to win the marathon. Keflezighi was born in the East African country of Eritrea, but he moved with his family as refugees to the United States when he was 12.
For Rosenfeld, who watched as much of the marathon as he could on his computer on Monday, the Boston Marathon is his favorite race, in part because New Balance is so involved with the event.
It’s also because of the atmosphere and the love that people have for it.
“It’s just that Boston is such a great town. It has been such a tradition and the people support it so much,” he said. An added element is that the Boston Red Sox also play on Patriots Day, and their fans spill out into the streets near the finish line to add to the festive atmosphere, he said.
Although he has never run the Boston Marathon, Rosenfeld has competed in the New York City and Washington, D.C., marathons. His wife, Tina, also has competed in marathons.
In recent years, the Boston Marathon has been dominated by runners from two East African countries, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Since 1991, Kenyans have won the men’s marathon 19 times, Ethiopians three times and a South Korean in 2001. On the women’s side, Kenyans have won 11 times, Ethiopians five times and Russian women twice since 1997.
Rosenfeld hopes that Americans can start to crack that dominance and says Keflezighi’s win will spur other Americans, although he concedes it will be tough to defeat the East Africans.
“A lot of the Americans now are all striving to compete with the Kenyans and Ethiopians, but it’s hard,” he said. The East African runners come from a high altitude, which is believed to help in their training. Plus, they are well known for running everywhere right from childhood.
“Genetically, they just have an advantage, but we are closing the gap,” Rosenfeld said. He named some top American runners, including Ryan Hall and Shalane Flanagan. Flanagan was the top American woman in the Boston Marathon, finishing seventh, although she had led much of the way.
Hall finished in 20th place. Rosenfeld’s daughter, Leah, trains with Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz.