Today was a big day for US running – the US Olympic Marathon trials. It was set in Los Angeles (with tomorrow being the Los Angeles Marathon) and was a race to see which 3 men and women would be sent to Rio this summer to represent the US. With quite a warm day (70s during the race), the runners still did a really good job. And, with the women’s race just finishing, the US Olympic Marathon team for 2016 is now set!
The US Olympic Marathon Team Is Set – With Some Interesting Results
It is strange – for the 2004 Olympics, I could not tell you anything about the runners in it at the time (which is sad since the US took silver in the marathon there on the feet of Meb Keflezighi). I did not get into running until 2 years later and now I love this time – a chance to follow our nation’s best runners as they prepare for the race of their lives!
The Men’s Team
In truly an incredible feat, the winner of the men’s race was Galen Rupp. What makes this amazing was that this was his first marathon, having pulled a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics in the 10,000 meter event. For the US trials, you do not actually have to qualify for the trials with a marathon time. Since these are elite runners, shorter qualifying races will work for making this as well. So, Galen came in first today in an impressive time of 2:11:11 – impressive for being his first and given the heat conditions.
Another incredible result was the second place finisher – Meb Keflezighi. By qualifying for the US team, this makes his fourth Olympic marathon team that he has made. He will be 41 when the Olympic marathon gun goes off, making him the oldest American to run the marathon in the Olympics. His running resume is already incredible having the 2nd place finish in the 2004 Olympics, a 4th place finish in the 2012 Olympics, and winning the Boston Marathon in 2014.
The final member of the team Jared Ward, also a newcomer to the marathon with today being only his second. These three men make up the US Olympic Marathon team for 2016 Rio!
The Women’s Team
On the women’s side, Amy Cragg came in first with a winning time of 2:28:20. For the 2012 trials, she had finished in that difficult 4th place slot so I am sure it is a major relief for her to claim first this time around. Her best time in the marathon is 2:27:03, so she missed that by over a minute this time and will hopefully be able to beat it in Rio!
Second place was claimed by Desiree Linden, an impressive runner that also finished 2nd in the last trials. Her best time was also an incredible performance in the 2011 Boston Marathon. Her time of 2:22:38 was just 2 seconds behind the winner of the Boston Marathon, giving her 2nd place in an amazing finish. She is a very strong runner that should do quite well in Rio.
In third with a finish that must have taken quite a bit from her was Shalane Flanagan. The reports said that she was collapsing at the finish line and she had some struggles late in the race. This will be her 4th Olympics (2nd in the marathon). She hold several records at shorter distances and also has an impressive 2:21:14 best time. She won the 2012 trials and should certainly be a strong force in the Olympics this year. She finished 10th in London last time around.
These are two really good teams and I certainly wish them all the best as they train for Rio just a few short months away! There were a lot of highly qualified runners out there today (including Kara Goucher who just missed a return to the Olympics by placing 4th today) so they certainly all did really well against the competition. The US Marathon trials are actually a pretty interesting event. Not everyone that qualifies and toes the starting line is there to claim a spot on the team. For some, it is a chance at a personal best time by having such a fast field. For others, it is a chance to get recognized and maybe get some sponsorships or even some TV time by tearing to the front early on (that does happen!). To all that qualified and started today, congrats on a huge accomplishment!
Do you think the US has a chance to return to the Olympic podium in the marathon event? Who would you pick to take that spot?