2012 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon - Women's Favorites
by Sharon Ekstrom
See Also: Women's Preview | Women's Contenders
Shalane Flanagan |
Desiree Davila |
Kara Goucher |
Deena Kastor |
Magdalena Lewy Boulet
Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
DOB: July 8, 1981 - Boulder, CO
Home: Portland, OR
Coach: Jerry Schumacher
PB: 2:28:40, 2010 New York City Marathon
Trials Qualifications: 2010 USA Women's Marathon Championships (Marathon - 11/07/2010 - 2:28:40); ING Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon (Half Marathon - 9/19/2010 - 1:08:37); 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships (Half Marathon - 1/17/2010 - 1:09:41); Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational (10000m - 5/01/2011 - 30:40); USA Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters (10000m - 6/23/2011 - 31:00); IAAF World Championships (10000m - 8/27/2011 - 31:25.6)
It was no surprise when Shalane Flanagan took the title of 2010 USA Women's Marathon Champion in her marathon debut, since her talents in the distance are still being realized. But Flanagan is still best known as a 10,000m specialist and, of course, the 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medalist. And as Flanagan's career has been focused mainly on the track since high school, with these 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials on the horizon the anticipation of her fully transitioning to the marathon is still a yet to be determined.
Flanagan quickly took to long distance roads winning the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships (69:41) in her debut and expectations were high for a strong first marathon performance at the 2010 New York City Marathon, not only was she poised to do well at the USA Marathon Championships but in the international race as well. Many felt that she could be the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since Miki Gorman in 1977, who finished in 2:43:10 at the age of 42.) Flanagan only 29 years old delivered on our expectations finishing second female in 2:28:40.
Yet, Flanagan stepped away from the full marathon distance right after her debut. Originally, citing that her 2012 Olympic focus was primarily 10000m. Flanagan entered 2011 having won the USA Cross Country Championship 8.0km and the 10000m USA Championships 2011. She followed up with a bronze medal at 2011 World Cross Country Championships, but struggled to reach the podium in the heat of Daegu 2011 World Championships where she finished 7th.
Flanagan rounded out the year with two half marathon victories at the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio and the Miami Beach Half Marathon which incidentally was the fastest half marathon run by an American in 2011 (69:58).
Why? Flanagan's talents in the marathon are yet to be seen. And while Deena Kastor still holds the American records in the half (67:34, 2006) and the full marathon (2:19:36, 2006), Flanagan stands to shine in the distance.
Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
DOB: July 26, 1983 - Chula Vista, CA
Home: Bloomington Hills, MI
Coach: Kevin Hanson
PB: 2:22:38, 2011 Boston Marathon
Trials Qualifications: B.A.A. Boston Marathon (Marathon - 4/18/2011 - 2:22:38); Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Marathon - 10/10/2010 - 2:26:20); Naples Daily News Half-Marathon (Half Marathon - 1/16/2011 - 1:10:34); Vodafone RTP Portugal Half-Marathon (Half Marathon - 9/25/2011 - 1:11:27); USA Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters (10000m - 6/23/2011 - 31:37.1);
Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational (10000m - 5/01/2010 - 32:06.9); USA Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters (10000m - 6/24/2010 - 32:22)
It's not so much an anomaly that Desiree Davila tops our roster for the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials favorites list. In 2009 we watched her represent the USA at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin finishing on 2:27:52 (11th place) in quite an inspirational race. Davila had a personal best in hot conditions and finished faster than favorite Kara Goucher in what was to be her first sub 2:30 marathon.
While the spotlight on American distance running had been focused on Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Deena Kastor, Desiree Davila deserves her time in the spotlight. An All-American cross country and track star at Arizona State University and member of the Hansons-Brooks team, Davila's start in the 5000m soon turned to the marathon distance in 2007 with a debut at the Boston Marathon. She finished 18th in 2:44:56 at age 23. Her second place finish at the 2008 USA Half Marathon Championships led to a spot on the US team at the 2009 World Marathon Championships. And prior to the championship event, she ran a 13th place finish at the 2008 US Olympic Marathon Trials (2:37:50 in her second career marathon). She also ran a 5th place finish at the 2008 Chicago Marathon in a 2:31:55, lowering her personal best finish by 6 minutes and 20 seconds.
Davila backed off the marathon distance - part of the Hansons training regimen of one marathon per year, only to return to the distance at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. Davila stunned even herself as she placed 4th and ran 2:26:20 shaving off over 1 minute 40 seconds from her last fastest finish from the World Championships marathon. With steady improvements, Davila bettered her performance at the 2011 Boston Marathon, where once again all eyes were on Goucher for a top finish.
An unstoppable Davila surprised the Boston women's field when at mile 20 she took the lead, pulling the top Africans in the field along with her while trying to maintain her speed in order to have enough for a finishing kick. Davila gave such an incredible effort in the final surges, but finished second in 2:22:38 a mere two seconds off the winner. Davila has now become a threat to top competitive fields.
Davila spent the second half of 2011 focusing on speed, racing predominantly on the track. She finished 4th at the 10000m National Championships in Eugene (a personal best) and a 4th place at the 5000m Aviva London meet. We are waiting in anticipation for what Davila has in store for the trials, but all-in-all it is promising.
Why? Davila has run the fastest finish of an American woman in the past few years and her consistent improvements have been indicative of what's to come. And with Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher having taken time off due to childbirth and various injuries, Davila stands to shine. Also, with the Hansons coaching expertise, she had proven that hard work and determination does pay off.
Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
DOB: July 9, 1978 - Queens, NY
Home: Portland, OR
Coach: Alberto Salazar
PB: 2:24:52, 2011 Boston Marathon
Trials Qualifications: B.A.A. Boston Marathon (Marathon - 4/18/2011 - 2:24:52); NYC Half-Marathon (Half Marathon - 3/20/2011 - 1:09:03); P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon (Half Marathon - 1/16/2011 - 1:14:02); USA Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters (10000m - 6/23/2011 - 31:17); IAAF World Championships (10000m - 8/27/2011 - 32:29.6)
Kara Goucher's best marathon performance has yet to be seen. Self-admittedly her own toughest critic, Goucher has the drive and the talent to see the podium at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials Women's Marathon. And despite the time off due to childbirth and some setbacks due to injuries and the return to training following childbirth, Goucher has fought the odds before.
Although injuries hampered her earlier track career, by 2006, she set personal bests at all distances on the international circuit, running the World "A" Standard in the 1500m, 5000m, and 10000m. At the 2007 World Championships Goucher won the bronze medal in the women's 10000m event, then continued on to win the 2008 US Olympic Team Trials in 5000m and took second in the 10000m behind American record-holder Shalane Flanagan. Although Goucher competed in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics 10000m finishing 10th with a personal best time of 30:55.16, and the 5000m placing 9th with a 15:49.39.
Yet, Goucher's focus quickly shifted to the marathon with a debut at the 2008 New York City Marathon where she took 3rd in 2:25:53. All eyes were on Goucher as the next great marathoner, as she confidently eyed a victory at the 2009 Boston Marathon in her second attempt at the distance. Although Goucher came in 3rd in 2:32:25, the disappointed runner coached by running legend Alberto Salazar put aside her plans to have a baby and returned to the racing circuit ready to take on the 2009 World Championships. The warm conditions of the World Championships in Berlin led to a disappointing finish of 2:27:48 (10th place). And she sat out of racing in 2010 to have a baby.
In a true test of fitness having trained as much as medically possible during pregnancy, Goucher came to the 2011 New York City Half trying to gauge her fitness levels. While training is not 100%, her 3rd place finish at the half marathon (69:03) gave her the confidence she needed as she heads into spring marathon season. Determined to race well at the 2011 Boston Marathon, she took on one of the deepest fields the Boston women's field has ever seen, finishing 5th in a 2:24:52. It was a personal best in her first true return to racing and test of fitness. We shall see where it takes her.
Why? If faith and fortitude along with talent play a role in the marathon, Goucher certainly has proven herself time and time again. It will be no surprise to see her on the Olympic Team.
Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
DOB: February 14, 1973 - Waltham, MA
Home: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Coach: Terence Mahon
PB: 2:19:36, 2006 London Marathon
Trials Qualifications: Virgin London Marathon (Marathon - 4/25/2010 - 2:36:20); P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon (Half Marathon - 1/17/2010 - 1:09:43); NYC Half-Marathon (Half Marathon - 3/21/2010 - 1:09:43); Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon (Half Marathon - 10/02/2011 - 1:12:23)
Deena Kastor is the Bronze medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics, champion of the 2005 Chicago Marathon and 2006 London Marathon and the American record holder with a 2:19:36 from the 2006 London Marathon; but she is best known as an inspiration to a growing number of women in the recent running boom.
Kastor had already made a name for herself on the running circuit over a decade ago when she ran for the the US at the 1999 World Championships and the 2000 Olympics in the 10000m and nabbed two World Championship Cross Country Silver Medals. While she first transitioned to the marathon distance in 2001 at the New York City Marathon finishing 7th in 2:26:58, it wasn't until 2003, that Kastor (then Drossin) first broke Joan Benoit Samuelson's long standing American Record (1985 Chicago Marathon, 2:21:21) of nearly twenty years. In that race - the 2003 London Marathon - she finished 3rd in a 2:21:16 behind Radcliffe's world record performace. Kastor's victories at the 2005 Chicago Marathon (2:21:25) and subsequent American record and sub 2:20 performance at the 2006 London Marathon (2:19:36) indicate her ability to perform well on fast, flat courses.
Following her easy victory of the 2008 US Olympic Team Trials in Boston, pressure mounted as the Olympics approached, but the unexpected happened; an injury forced her to drop out during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon in the first 5K of the race. This injury later led to several months of setbacks from the nagging injury that had impeded her performances.
With patience, a new training regimen and a new outlook, Kastor ran the 2009 to a 6th place finish in 2:28:50 – not spectacular in time, but good enough to give her confidence in her future training. At 38, Kastor, like other notable top runners from the past decade like Paula Radcliffe and Catherine Ndereba, have struggled to make comebacks...but it's her patience and dedication that keeps her coming back. In 2010 Kastor returned to London where she'd had her best marathon performances and ran a middling 2:36:20 (18th place). Kastor took the latter part of 2010 off to give birth to her first child before returning back to road racing in 2011 - most notably winning Rock 'n' Roll San Jose and the Los Angeles Half Marathon.
Why? Not only does Kastor have the desire to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she always retains a positive outlook and remains a strong competitor at every race. She still remains the fastest American marathoner today.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet
Victah Sailer / PhotoRun
DOB: August 1, 1973 - Poland
Home: Oakland, CA
Coach: Jack Daniels
PB: 2:26:22, 2010 Rotterdam Marathon
Trials Qualifications: Fortis Marathon Rotterdam (Marathon - 4/11/2010 - 2:26:22); Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Marathon - 10/10/2010 - 2:28:44); Virgin London Marathon (Marathon - 4/17/2011 - 2:31:22);
2010 USA Half Marathon Championships (Half Marathon - 1/17/2010 - 1:12:22); 2011 USA Half Marathon Championships (Half Marathon - 1/29/2011 - 1:14:28); USA Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters (10000m - 6/23/2011 - 31:48.6)
Magdalena Lewy Boulet is dedicated to the marathon when there seems to be a dearth of American veterans in the distance and her performances still hold promise. This Polish born American Olympian has had a well-rounded career on the track, in cross country and on the roads. She became a household name when she finished second to Deena Kastor at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Boston. But the Beijing Olympics was not a highlight on her resume, as Lewy Boulet dropped from the Olympic event soon after Deena Kastor dropped out due to injury. Lewy Boulet ran the 2008 New York City Marathon to a 2:33:56 (11th place), proving that she was capable of taking on a top international field and not the easiest course.
Lewy Boulet has remained focused through the years. In 2010 her efforts paid off with personal bests in races such as the 15K National Championships (3rd place), 20K National Championships (1st place) and the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon (2nd place - 2:26:22).
Her Rotterdam performance shaved 4 minutes from her previous best (2:30:19 from the 2008 Olympic Trials). Lewy Boulet followed up with a 2:28:44 at the Chicago Marathon, not bad since the initial miles of the event were on target for a 2:22 and few women held to the pace. So, at the start of 2011 Lewy Boulet took on the London Marathon for the first time. With pacesetters and world half marathon record holder Mary Keitany pushing a sub-2:20 finish, Lewy Boulet ran her own race and finished 2:31:22. While she finished in a disappointing 23rd place having looked for a personal best on the fast flat course, Lewy Boulet is now armed with the experience of racing in London and against the new generation of ultra-fast women who will undoubtedly be at the 2012 London Olympics.
Why? As with all athletes there are ups and downs and Lewy Boulet has taken some hard knocks. If she makes the team, it is guaranteed that she now at 38 will give the best performance of her life at the Olympics.