Monday, January 16, 2012

The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials: Houston, Texas

This past weekend's US Olympic Marathon Team Trials was an emotional packed roller coaster for both competitor and spectator.  Dreams were made and dreams were dashed.  Tears of joy and sadness were shed.  Exultation brought on by success and grimaces of pain and defeat riddled the streets of Houston.  But in the end some of the best racing ever witnessed at the US Olympic Marathon Trials were had.  The gauntlets were thrown early in both the men's and women's races and it resulted in the greatest running I've ever witnessed.

Full Results and some video coverage can be found here at Flotrack.  Here's my photo break down of the weekend's race:

The ultimate finish line in the world of distance running...

Emily Harrison drops off her fluids and gels.  They'll will be delivered to nine different aid stations along the course.

Emily undergoes the stringent uniform logo check.  If logos are too big or too plentiful on any piece of equipment or uniform they must be covered with tape.  IAAF rules.

Mike Spinnler (RD for the JFK 50 Mile), Craig Thornley (RD for the Waldo 100K) and Megan Arbogast (2012 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier) during the pre-race technical meeting.

Jenn Shelton and Mike Wardian pose for an important photo opportunity pre-race.

A group photo, after Emily and my Q & A, with Katy (TX) Student Run:  Where extraordianary coaches help teach high school students about nutrition and healthy lifestyles while training for the Houston Half Marathon.

Nick Arciniaga's stylin' adidas singlet.

Jordan Horn and coach Greg McMillan await the final count down.

A nervous smile minutes before the start says it all.  "Is this really happening?"

The men's field strides out to the start line.

The lead pack surges through mile two:  Hall, Trafeh, Abdi, Ritz, Meb and Chirlee.

Brett Gotcher in hot pursuit.

The chase pack with Bak, Carney, Hartman, Carlson and Cox.

Jordan Horn and Danny Mercado lead a small pack together side by side.

The women's front pack at mile two led by Desi Davila.

Ryan Bak (2:15:12) leads the chase pack at mile ten with Andrew Carlson (finishes 6th overall in 2:11:24 in his first ever marathon) and Brett Gotcher (finishes fifth in 2:11:06) close behind.

Mike Wardian (finishes in 2:21:50) in a pack of his own.  However, one marathon wouldn't be enough for Wardian as he would go on to run the Houston Marathon the following day in 2:31:17.

Flagstaff's Danny Mercado at mile ten.

Emily Harrison at mile ten.

Oregon's Jenn Shelton is all smiles.

US National 100K team member Megan Arbogast finishes in 2:58:38.

Abdi leads Hall and Meb at mile 18.

Nick Arciniaga methodically works his way into the top ten and finishes in 2:11:56.

Hastings, Kara, Shalane and Desi at mile 10.

Deena Kastor and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom chase the leaders.

Stephanie Rothstein at 18 miles.

Emily at 18 miles (don't let the sign in the background fool you).

Ultrarunner Devon Crosby-Helms goes on to finish with a four minute PR (2:38:55).

Natasha LaBeaud (2:42:55)

Leah Thorvilson (2:42:09)

Meb with less than two-tenths of a mile to go finishes first in 2:09:08.

Ryan Hall (2:09:30) digs in.  You can just make out Abdi making the turn in the background.

Abdi (2:09:47) in the home stretch with Ritz on his heels.

Ritz, in fourth, gives all he has (2:09:55) but misses the Olympic Team by eight seconds.

Max King (2:14:36) finishes in the top 20 with a new marathon PR.

McMillanElite's Jordan Horn (2:21:56) finishes his first marathon at the Olympic Trials.

Tucson's Craig Curley struggled with severe leg cramps in the final meters.  But he still went on to finish his first marathon at the Olympic Trials.

Shalane Flanagan wins the women's race in 2:25:38 with Desi right on her heels.

Desi Davila finishes second (2:25:55).

Kara Goucher finishes third (2:26:06).

Looking down on the finish line.

Good friends Katie Koski (2:45:27) and Emily Harrison (2:37:45) post race.

Your Moment of Zen

Though Craig Curley's shuffle to the finish line with hamstring cramps was an awesome feat to witness, I still think that Dan Browne's finish was more inspiring.  His 2:42:21 finishing time put him at the bottom of the men's results sheet.  Dan's marathon PR is 2:11 and he made the 2004 Olympic Team in BOTH the 10K and marathon (finishing both at that year's Olympics).  This past weekend he stepped to the line knowing full well his current fitness level and what he was and was not capable of.  He went for it; a chance to garner another spot on an US Olympic Team and the opportunity to take part in history.  I admire that.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wish Them All the Best!

This Saturday is a big day for a very special group of marathoners.  The 2012 USA Olympic Trials for both men and women take place in Houston, Texas.  The top three in each race will have the opportunity to take part in the 2012 London Olympic Games.  Both races have large competitive fields.  More than 120 men and 200 women have met the qualifying standards (2:19 & 2:46 respectively).

Along with the six I've come to know shown above (Nick, Brett, Emily, Jordan, Danny and Stephanie) I wanted to give a shout out and wish the best to a cadre of other qualifying runners I've come to know through racing, training, pot lucks, and correspondence over the years (I hope I don't miss anyone).

Best of luck to the rest of Flagstaff's qualifiers and those I've met during their stays here at one time or another:  Jeffrey Eggleston, Abdi Abdirahman, Fasil Bizuneh, Stephan Shay, Alvina Begay, Paige Higgins, Natasha Labeaud, Trent Briney, Andrew Carlson and Ian Burrell.

I'd also be reticent if I didn't include those who have given some clout to those distances beyond the 26.2 mile mark.  Here's to those ultrarunners that may or may not be representing this weekend:  Catlin Smith, Kami Semick, Susannah Beck, Devon Crosby-Helms, Leah Thorvilson, Jenn Shelton, Meghan Arbogast, Mike Wardian, Max King and Ryan Bak (though not officially an ultra, Ryan's TransRockies finish is close enough).

You may know of someone who has qualified this weekend.  Send them a note, cheer them on and show your support as the best of the best test themselves and each other.  Good luck runners!