The Needs of Nick Arciniaga
The 2:11-marathoner just needs another marathon. One more. That’s all.
by The Trailer
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Nick Arciniaga had just gotten back from a shakeout run in New York City’s Central Park when he got the news. In the lobby of his hotel Olympians Julie Culley, Kim Smith, and a few other elites huddled together.
The race was canceled.
“I didn’t believe them for a second,” he says. “I was in that state of getting prepared and then came back to have my world blown.”
Like most people who would not be racing that Sunday, Ariciniaga spent most of that day talking about not racing on Sunday. (“What’s the contingency plan? THERE HAS TO BE A CONTINGENCY PLAN.”) That’s normal.
Then, he says, “I took the rest of the night and came up with a list of six different marathons that could be possible and which ones would be optimal.”
And you think to yourself, huh. That seems like a strange response.
There were two types of reactions from the elite field of the 2012 New York City Marathon. Some, like Arciniaga, immediately began looking for another race. And you know who they are because this fact is always mentioned in the accompanying story—“NewYorkNewYorkNewYork”—like they’re Sudanese refugees or something.
But the other option, the one which most of the A-List runners have chosen, is to simply let the fields go fallow and call it a season. Meb has, Gotcher has, Kiplagat has. See you in the spring.
Instead, Arciniaga, 29, settled on the 2012 California International Marathon on Sunday, Dec. 2, four weeks after he should have raced the New York City Marathon, because for him a finished marathon—any marathon—is exactly what he needs.
And that explains everything.
“I had a bad experience,” Arciniaga says of the 2012 Boston Marathon, where he DNFed. He explains it as the result of a panicked change the night before in the amount of fluids he’d consume for a hotter-than-average spring day—instead of 10 ounces every 5K, he’d take in 16.
He had not tried this before.
Arciniaga sounds almost sheepish: Aw, shucks, I drank too much in the first 15K and thought my stomach might pop. But now it’s made him almost desperate to get a good one: “Looking back, that was such a missed opportunity. It was a simple thing like that, where basically I’m ready, but I screwed myself over dietarily,” he says. “I just need to finish one now.”
Point being, Arciniaga has to race. He needs to race. He’s got to race. And CIM provides an opportunity for that release—and, possibly, a win.
This is where it gets hot.
With the second-fastest PR in the field (2:11:30; only behind Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Alemayehu, 2:11:18), Arciniaga comes into the race in a strange position for an American marathoner as the top dog. And he knows it. “Just being able to look at the list and see that I’m going to be up there with the top group of guys, that gives me mentally a little bit of an edge, knowing that I should be better than everyone else,” he says.
“In New York I was just going in there hoping to have my best day and all the other guys would have a bad day. This one, if I have my best day, there shouldn’t be anyone around.”
Arciniaga knows what the course record is. And he’s looking past the 2:10:27. “That’s a goal of mine, sure, but that’s secondary to winning,” he says. “Winning would be better than anything else out there. I want to be able to win out there and just run people to the ground at the end of the race.”
New York was canceled; Boston was an embarrassment. But CIM is just what Arciniaga needs.