US Olympic Marathon Trials in the Books
February 13 was the US Olympic Marathon Trials. The trials were held in Los Angeles, the day before the LA marathon. The top three men and women earn spots on the starting line at the summer Olympics in Rio. For those who had better things to do than spend Saturday afternoon watching the action live on NBC, here’s what you missed:
In the men’s race
Meb Keflezighi and Galen Rupp let other athletes take the lead for most of the race, but when Tyler Pennel made a break at mile 16 they went with him. By mile 20 it was just Meb and Galen left at the front.
In the last few kilometres, Galen took off, to win his debut marathon and secure his spot on the Olympic marathon team. Meb held for second, and Saucony-sponsored Jared Ward (2015 US marathon champion) took the third qualifying spot. Pre-race favourite Dathan Ritzenhein was forced to withdraw due to severe leg cramps.
– In the post-race interviews, there was a humourous yet awkward moment where Meb expressed some irritation with Galen for bringing his track racing tactics to the roads, as Galen walked in to join the interview.
– Meb makes history as the first person to represent the US in three Olympic marathons, and also as the oldest US Olympic marathoner (he will turn 41 in May).
– Galen Rupp has stated that he is seriously considering competing in both the 10,000m and the marathon at Rio this summer. The two races are scheduled eight days apart, and Galen seems confident this will be sufficient recovery time before his second marathon start.
Training partners Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg stayed at or very near the front of the field right from the gun. Other major contenders Desiree Linden and Kara Goucher stayed nearby, but shied away from taking the lead.
Around the nine mile mark, Flanagan and Cragg split off from the pack, led by Kellyn Taylor and joined by Sara Hall. Hall eventually dropped back and dropped out, and Taylor ultimately finished in sixth place. Linden and Goucher decided not to go with the pack, but slowly picked off the women ahead of them and worked their way forward throughout the second half of the race.
Flanagan and Cragg had stated in every pre-race interview that their primary objective was to qualify together. This was put to the test twice, first Cragg hit a rough stretch, but Flanagan was able to talk her through it. Then in the last few miles, it was Flanagan who was clearly struggling with the heat. Cragg talked her through several miles until Linden came into view and she knew she couldn’t wait any longer (having finished in fourth at the 2012 trials, she had no desire to see the same results this time around).
Cragg cruised to a strong victory after finally leaving her teammate, and Linden passed Flanagan to take second. Flanagan was able to hold on for third, as Goucher was too far back to close the gap, even with Flanagan’s slowing pace.
– Fourth place is a hard pill to swallow. In a very passionate post-race interview, Goucher told reporters, “I didn’t fight this hard to just fold right now, so yeah, I’ll be trying to make the 10K team.” We will definitely be following Kara’s story this spring and summer!
In short, two dramatic races, with a few upsets, but overall the United States has great teams moving forward to the Olympics this summer.
Canadian Road Racing Results
Typically the road racing scene this time of year is pretty sluggish. However, March 7 is the final day to qualify for the World Half Marathon Championships, which will take place at the end of March, and for which Canada intends to send a full team of three men and three women. The qualifying standards are a tough 1:06 and 1:16 respectively for men and women, but our athletes are much better than that. The top qualifiers as of February 15 are:
|Reid Coolsaet||1:03:37||Natasha Wodak||1:11:20|
|Rob Watson||1:03:58||Lanni Marchant||1:12:05|
|Brandon Lord||1:04:00||Rachel Hannah||1:12:25|
There was a strong contingent of Canadian elite and sub-elites out in Vancouver on February 14 at the First Half half marathon, attempting to break these ranks; however, cold temperatures and strong winds prevented fast times. In the remaining weeks of the qualifying period, a few athletes like Krista DuChene will stay local and try for a fast time, while others will head south to warmer climates for their final efforts.
On the Track
Our middle- and short-distance athletes have been busy too! The World Indoor Championships are also scheduled for March, in Portland, Oregon, and Canadian athletes are meeting standards every week.
– Nicole Sifuentes came within one second of Sheila Reid‘s indoor national record for the one mile event. She has met the standards for both the 1500m and the 3000m events.
– Gabriela Stafford, a young but highly talented athlete who runs for the University of Toronto, has also run world indoor standards for both the 1500m and the 3000m events. Her 3000m time will not count, however, due to the size of the track on which it was achieved.
– Jessica O’Connell and Reid have also met the world indoor standard for the 3000m, and world silver medalist Melissa Bishop has the 800m standard.
– Cam Levins and collegiate athlete Justyn Knight have both run under the world indoor standard of 7:50 for the 3000m event.
There are several big track meets coming up next weekend as well:
– The Canadian Open Indoor Championships are happening in Montreal. Confirmed athletes for this include Olympic hurdlers Nikkita Holder, Phylicia George and Angela Whyte, as well as Fiona Benson. If you haven’t heard of her yet, you will soon!
– The iconic Millrose Games in New York will feature sprinters Andre De Grasse and Khamica Bingham, heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, as well as distance runners Mo Ahmed, Levins, Matt Hughes and Charles Philibert Thiboutot.
– There are also IAAF indoor meets in both Stockholm and Glasgow, which are sure to feature great athletes, even if they’re not sporting a maple leaf!
On the Canadian university scene, at least two local athletes have been enjoying tremendous success on the track this winter. University of Waterloo’s Naomi Lance has broken at least 5 school records in various sprint-distance events. Naomi also works at Runners’ Choice – say congrats the next time you’re in!
Down the street at Wilfrid Laurier University, Adam Cornwall is also having a record-setting season, breaking the school record in the 3000m twice and in the 1500m once. He is currently ranked fifth in the CIS in the 3000m. The top 12 ranked athletes in each event will compete at the Canadian championships in Toronto, March 10-12.
— Laurier Golden Hawks (@WLUAthletics) February 14, 2016
Next month, this column will preview and recap the various championship events happening in March.