Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Master: Mbarak Hussein Another Age Group, Another Record

If the Twin Cities Marathon ever starts a Hall of Fame one of ,if not the first, inductees should be Mbarak Hussein.  In the listing of Masters Age Group Records, Hussein had the records for the 40-44 age group and the 45-49s.  On Sunday he added a third, the 50-54 record formerly held by Norm Green of 2:29:11 will now be replaced by Hussein's 2:24:08 performance in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Hussein set both of his other US Masters records at Twin Cities.  He's won the open men's title twice, and the US Masters title five times, also all at Twin Cities.  The only thing that kept him from number six was a great performance by a new Master, 40-year old Coloradan Clint Wells.  Sweat pouring off him in the press tent after the race Wells acknowledged that it took everything he had to hold to off Mbarak by eight seconds.

"I was dying," said Wells.  "All I was trying to do was get to the finish."

"You ran the whole race by yourself," Hussein said to Wells as the pair did a postmortem on their races.  Wells had opened a 48 second lead on Hussein by halfway and that lead expanded to one minute and eight seconds by 21 miles.  The lead was still a minute and one second by mile 24.  Those last two miles were agony for Wells and a  realization by Hussein that he wasn't out of the battle for first.

Wells was running 5:54 miles for the last 2.2 miles of the race, while Mbarack could see that he was gaining with almost every step.  Hussein averaged 5:29 for those final 2.2 miles, and as he was gaining, he said to Wells while chuckling: "I was saying 'don't turn around.' Then you turned around."

"Yeah," Wells said. "I knew you were coming. I could hear the crowd clapping and cheering and the cheers were getting closer, so I knew somebody was coming."  In the end, Wells held it together and Mbarak ran out of real estate.  "I didn't have confidence  in my fitness," said Hussein.  Wells may have had an inflated view of his, but was still able to "grind it out" as top tennis players often say when their game is off yet they still manage to win the big points and the match.
Mbarak Hussei and Josh Metcalf  passing from Lake Harriet
Photo by Gene Niemi

Just as impressive was the fact that Masters runners took five of the top twelve in the Open men's race.  Wells led the group to the finish in eighth overall, followed by Hussein, Josh Metcalf, Steven Muturi, and Jason Ryf.

Hussein is not only aware of what's happening in the Masters.  When the Griak Invitational was mentioned during a casual conversation at the TCM expo, he said how amazed he was to read the stories about 7th grader Grace Ping winning the High School girl's Gold race.  "A 12 year old winning that race, setting World Records," he said.  Ping's exploits impressed him, probably as much as his own would impress Ping.


RG S said...

I personally know Mbarak and can attest to his raw, unimaginable talent. Thank you for offering those of us who could not be present at his race a glimpse of the close race between him and Clint, especially the thrilling end. With a just a few more seconds, Mbarak could have won his sixth master's title!

jdf said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's safe to say that Mbarak is one of the favorites of the TC folks, as well as the spectators. He is always infectiously upbeat as well as talented. I wouldn't bet against him getting title number six one of these years. He's a dad now, so he has a higher priority than his running, which is a new experience for him. He lacked a little confidence because he felt he didn't prepare as well as in the past. Then he discovered that he could still have had a shot at winning despite all that. Clint said after the race that if the race had gone an extra 100 meters, he didn't think he would have won. He'll learn to from the experience and he and Mbarak may have another classic battle next year.