Hardly any (no?) other countries do it like this. One race to determine the six US (three men, three women) spots at the Olympics in the marathon. The pros and cons of this approach have been debated for years. For every person slighted by our current approach, I’ll bet we could have found a matching partner had we chosen some other method. This is what we have so might as well enjoy the drama. And this year the marathon trials are in Los Angeles this coming Saturday, February 13th.
We expect about 450 athletes will toe the starting line next Saturday – about 210 men and 240 women. They have all met a qualifying time in either the marathon or the half marathon. For the men, you had to beat 2:19 or 1:05; women had to be under 2:45 or 1:15. Folks, there are no stiffs in this race.
Athletebiz will be represented. As of last count for injuries and withdrawals, we’ll have 9 men and 13 women in the race. Scroll to the bottom of this post for thumbnail sketches of all ABers in the race prepared by Jack and Aaron.
The layout consists of an opening 2.2 mile loop, then four repeats of a six mile loop that rolls past LA sites like the Convention Center, the Coliseum and the Staples Center. Course map here and a cool course flyover video here. Not much elevation change and the flat course is considered fast. Ah, but there is one trick – a lot of turns, including a bunch of 180s. As an old steeplechaser, I can tell you that not all runners handle “rhythm breakers” like U-turns equally well.
The advance forecasts suggest temps in the low to mid 70s. That’s on the high side but what will probably matter more is the humidity. If it checks in at 20% as forecast, maybe not a bad day. Let’s hope it stays low.
Uh oh…getting into dangerous territory. For the women, we hear Shalene Flanagan and Desiree Linden get mentioned in terms of near locks for the team. Amy Cragg and Kara Goucher are often listed in the mix as well. Runners World did a poll that had those four in the top spots. ABers Deena Kastor (5th), Sara Hall (7th) and Esther Atkins got votes. On the men’s side, ABer Tyler Andrews notes of his fellow ABer Meb Keflezighi:
The guy is 40 years old now, for crying out loud, and he’s still probably going to make the Olympic Team.
Tyler is correct that Meb is one of the favorites. Dathan Ritzenhein, Galen Rupp, and Luke Puksedra are also on the short lists. In the aforementioned RW poll, ABers Jared Ward (4th), Tyler Pennel (8th), Jeffrey Eggleston and Matt Llano also got votes.
Looking over the history of the marathon trials since 1976, you’ll see that 2012 was the first year you needed to break 2:10 to make the team. Prior to that, something between 2:10:55 and 2:13:22 was good enough – throwing out the 2000 race in Pittsburgh contested in heat and humidity. For the women, 2012 was also the fastest ever, with 2:26:06 getting you the ticket compared to 2:30 to 2:36 in the years going back to 1984. Unless the humidity soars, I could see that being on the faster side of historical results might again be necessary to make the team.
Meb says he used to do tempo runs of 15 miles at 4:46 pace to train for the marathon. He says he can’t do that anymore so “Now I have to be smarter. My training is about consistency.” How about this workout? Tyler Pennel’s last hard training run – 5 mile warmup, 4 miles in 21:30, mile “float” in 5:50, another 4 miles in 20:08, another mile float, 6 x 1200 in 3:32 to 3:37 with 400 recovery, then a mile. Doing the math here, carry the one, let’s see, that’s 21 miles, a lot of it really fast.
We must be making progress as a sport. NBC will be broadcasting live on Saturday at 1 pm. Note they will be pre-empting their regular coverage of English Premier League soccer to make room so this is a good thing. I’m not being sarcastic, soccer is a big deal for NBC. You will also be able to live stream on NBC Sports LIve Extra.
ABer Kaitlin Gregg Goodman and her brother Brendan will be the first brother and sister to compete in the Trials Marathon on the same day.
Good Luck to AthleteBiz Athletes!
Here’s some quick information to get to know those competing this weekend on the streets of LA. Click on the for an athlete to check out their store and support their journey!
Concord, MA → Tufts University → Arlington, VA
Why you should watch Tyler: Legendary training mileage and world record holder in half-marathon ON A TREADMILL! Uses his running to bring awareness to the work he does for STRIVE – bringing educational programs to rural Peru.
Richmond, VA → Case Western University → Blowing Rock, NC
Why you should watch Esther: Top 10 contender. Husband Cole also qualified but is injured. Didn’t plan to run in college, but was recruited by the coach when spotted on a treadmill. Has a magic pen: you are missing a lot if you haven’t been reading her blogs on AthleteBiz.
Denver, CO → Cal State University → San Luis Obispo, CA
Why you should watch Scott: Top contender. Marketing Manager at Running Warehouse. Scott led the partnership with AthleteBiz that enables our athletes to get commissions on sales originated from the athletes’ AthleteBiz stores.
San Jose, CA → University of Arizona → Portland, OR
Why you should watch Jen: A certified personal trainer and avid cross-trainer, Jen brings all-around fitness to her running. She overcame Osgood-Schlatter Knee in high school by taking her fitness talents to the pool and has also inspired her twin sister and father to run the marathon.
Chaseburg, WI → Iowa State University → Toledo, OH
Why you should watch Samantha: Set a course record while winning her first marathon despite running an extra mile! Grew up in a town of less than 300 people. “If I didn’t run or coach, I would love to open a bakery”.
Newport Beach, CA → Princeton → New York, NY
Why you should watch Sarah: We’re guessing there’s only one former competitive figure skater in the field. Maybe only one that has endured brain surgery (due to Chiari malformation). Yes, this Ivy League grad is truly one of a kind.
Suwanee, GA → University of Georgia → Greenville, SC
Why you should watch Nicole: Turning a hobby of using quotes to spark motivation in running, she launched Sincerely by Nicole, her own Etsy shop offering digital prints of inspiring and funny quotes.
Greece, NY → University of Virginia → Boulder, CO
Why you should watch Jeffrey: Top contender. Prefers training alone and coaches himself. Late bloomer has been on two World Championship teams.
Davis, CA → UC, Davis → Providence, RI
Why you should watch Kaitlin: Had a magical 2015 season with PRs at all distances. Her brother Brendan will also be in the OT race. Kaitlin is a modern day renaissance woman. She is accomplished and active in many areas and is Running Joyfully.
Santa Clara, CA → UCLA → Minneapolis, MN
Why you should watch Emily: The only marathon qualifier who was a sprinter/hurdler in college. Emily is strong in body and mind, and describes herself as a huge biochemistry and food science geek.
Lakewood, WA → Oklahoma State University → Colorado Springs, CO
Why you should watch Joe: Joe is the ultimate running badass. Six time “Mountain Runner Of The Year” and broken a slew of glass ceilings as the “first African American” to accomplish numerous things in the sport. Oh yeah, he also excels at marathoning and steeplechasing.
Charlotte, NC → UNC, Charlotte
Why you should watch Alana: Alana is one of THE stories of these Olympic Trials. She is not only the youngest participant, having just turned 19, but she is actually too young to compete at the Olympics…this time.
Santa Rosa, CA → Stanford University → Flagstaff, AZ
Why you should watch Sara: Top contender; Sara and husband Ryan inspired us all last year when their admirable Hall Steps Foundation mission became very personal. They adopted 4 Ethiopian sisters and formed a very special family.
Waltham, MA → University of Arkansas → Mammoth Lakes, CA
Why you should watch Deena: Top Contender…at age 42! Proud to have Deena as an AthleteBiz board member. She’s the best – best runner, wonderful human being.
Breaking News: Deena will not be running in the Olympic Trials Marathon
Eritrea → UCLA → San Diego, CA
Why you should watch Meb: Top Contender (co-favorite?). Read his inspiring life story: Run To Overcome.
Portland, OR → Southern Oregon University → Ashland, OR
Why you should watch David: The longer the better. David is the youngest person ever to be named the Ultra Runner of the Year.
Annapolis, MD → University of Richmond → Flagstaff, AZ
Why you should watch Matt: Matt inspired countless people with his “Its Time” blog. A must read. Matt started as a sprinter, and based on his workout logs he’s ready to sprint the full marathon!
Sacramento, CA → Brown University → Portland, OR
Why you should watch Olivia: Tenacious. Olivia was relentless with her pursuit of the OT qualifier, with a few near misses. Of course she got it! She’s a foodie, on a career path to biochemical engineering, and an all-round vibrant personality.
Golden, CO → Western State College → Blowing Rock, NC
Why you should watch Tyler: Top Contender. Won a USA national title in his first marathon. Eye-popping range with a sub-4 mile also on his resume. Confidently shares his training details and stories in terrific blogs.
Tualatin, OR → University of Iowa → Minneapolis, MN
Why you should watch Meghan: Masters in Leadership, certified scuba diver, head coach at Augsburg College…and extraordinary runner. This daughter of a Navy fighter pilot is an achiever.
Falls Church, VA → University of Notre Dame → Arlington, VA
Why you should watch Susanna: Heard this story before? Successful high school runner fades in college and gives up the sport. True for Susanna, EXCEPT for the last part. She stuck to it and is now making her mark as a fast improving pro.
Kaysville, UT → BYU → Provo, UT
Why you should watch Jared: Top Contender. A family man, a devout member of LDS Church and in the hunt to win every major road race he enters. Expect to see his Saucony singlet near the front.