After a 4 year wait, one of the most anticipated events in American distance running has finally arrived. On Saturday, 167 men and 201 women will hit the streets of Los Angeles for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. No pacemakers. No fast Kenyans or Ethiopians. Just the best American athletes and 26.2 miles on the streets of L.A. to determine which 3 athletes will represent the United States in Rio this August. This year, 4 current or former Niagara Association athletes will be making the trip to L.A. to try and make this year’s Olympic team. All 4 are making their very first Olympic trials appearance. We will highlight who they are, how they got there, and what to expect from them this Saturday. Click on their names for details.
-articles by Greg Selke
With Galen Rupp deciding to enter the marathon trials, this adds a lot of uncertainty to the equation. While he has certainly had a lot of success on the track, many people are wondering if this will translate to the marathon. This is his debut marathon, and speaking from experience, debut marathons can sometimes be cruel. The 10k, not even the half marathon is nothing like the full. How the race unfolds will determine who gets the 3 spots. If this race becomes a PR type effort, I think Rupps chances get hurt. If it becomes a tactical affair, expect his chances of making the team to be better. Also, if he’s not within distance of the top group by 13.1, expect a DNF out of Rupp.
Most people are saying that the 3 spots are likely going to Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Meb Keflezghi. While they are the odds on favorites, I think the chances that all 3 have everything go to plan and end up making the team aren’t as good. Each one has something that could limit their day. This is Rupp’s first marathon. Ritz has been training through an injury. And Meb has started to show is age of late. Ultimately, 2 of these 3 will make it.
The last spot will likely go to someone in the “Blue collar group”- either Luke Puskedra, Diego Estrada, Brett Gotcher, Matt Llano, Jeff Eggleston, Bobby Curtis, or Jared Ward. Each of these guys has had a performance in the last 2 years that makes you want to take a second look. I like to compare the marathon trials to the NCAA tournament, you always put your money on the teams coming in with momentum. Luke Puskedra threw down a 1:01:29 in Houston just weeks ago. If that’s his fitness now, look out for him. Add in his 2:10:24 in Chicago last October as well, and he’s the guy you should put your money on.
Men’s top 3
- Galen Rupp
- Dathan Ritzenhein
- Luke Puskedra
Coming in, it’s pretty clear that Shalane Flanagan and Desi Linden are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Shalane has had a very dominant past 2 years, running a 2:22:02 in Boston in 2014, finishing 6th in the 10000m at the IAAF outdoor track and field championships, and setting the U.S. women’s road 10k record in a time of 31:03. Linden was the top American woman in Boston last April, running a 2:25:39. Barring a catastrophe they should be the top 2. Nothing indicates they won’t. For the 3rd spot, I will go out on a limb and say that the 3rd spot will be someone out of left field. Someone that not even most distance runners are familiar with. Amy Cragg has been somewhat inconsistent. Kara Goucher has not been close to her dominant form of 2012. There’s not a ton of reasons to be extremely confident in the athletes who are considered favorites to take the 3rd spot. There are about 20 women who could take this 3rd spot. Some familiar, some not. Esther Atkins, Serena Burla, Sara Hall, Kellyn Taylor, maybe even Maegan Krifchin. I can’t say for sure who it will be. Personally, I’ll say Burla, with not a lot of certainty. It goes back to the whole NCAA tournament argument mentioned earlier. Put your money on the athletes who have the momentum coming into the race.
Women’s top 3
- Shalane Flanagan
- Desi Linden
- Serena Burla