Track & Field
The Olympic marathon is over and Kimberley Smith chokes back tears.
She wanted a top six finish but had to settle for 15th, outside her personal best by 1min 38sec.
Smith is a waif, just 44kg, and probably lighter now.
She gets married in three weeks to a fellow runner called Patrick Tarpy and should have no problem fitting into her wedding dress.
For now, though, it is post mortem time.
When the rain was bucketing down minutes before the race, one knowledgeable television type suggested the conditions would play into the hands of Smith.
In the end, nothing was further from the truth. She hated the hairpin turns and cobbled streets and says with the rain thrown in she was lucky to stay on her feet.
At 20km Smith removed her white cap and it seemed she was about to get down to business. But 5km later as the inevitable push came from the east Africans, the girl from Auckland with the no knee-lift running action could not respond.
A top-15 finish out of a field of 118 seems respectable, but Smith sees it as failure.
"I was hoping for a top sixth finish, that course really didn't suit me," she says.
"Fifteenth was not really what I wanted at all, so it is pretty tough."
Smith composes herself and analyses the race in more detail.
She "felt fine" at 20km but awful not long after. "I just didn't feel great today, the course I found really difficult.
"I was slipping, the cobblestones I found really hard to run on and the turns were really hard. I have just never run a course like that before. I found it really tough going.
"The rain didn't help at all and it was really hard on the calves which I already have a problem with. There was a little cramping going on. It was a rough day.''
Smith wonders if she should have looked more closely at the course. She set her personal best of 2hrs 25min 21sec in London two years ago but that was on the streets, not down alley ways and through city markets.
"I probably should've practised the turns a little bit more.
"Sometimes preparation goes well and you run poorly. That is the marathon, it is unpredictable and it is really tough and you never know how it will go."
It is a rough day for the runners. Eleven fail to finish, one is crying with a lap (12.875 km) remaining and still crying when she crosses the line.
Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba is the size of a small girl. She is listed as weighing 38kg and at 22 years, finishes one spot higher than her age.
The omen for the race was defending champion Constantina Ditta, from Romania. She is 42 years and 195 days - the same numbers as the marathon distance (42.195km). She has to settle for 86th.
Smith is ushered away. She has a wedding to take her mind off the day.
- © Fairfax NZ News