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2009 Boston Marathon - The Americans
Reigning USA 5000m champion Kara Goucher is the rising star in US women's distance running at age thirty. Goucher, best known as a collegiate track star, fell prey to injuries after college, but never lost her passion for running. In a triumphant 2006, she set numerous personal records and placed third in Helsinki in 31:17.12 becoming the second-fastest American ever in the 10,000m in her second time racing the distance. (Only Deena Kastor has run faster.) It was part of an amazing season that saw Goucher set personal bests at four distances.
Competitive Image / Kevin Coloton / Jacob Gibb
In 2007, she continued the series of strong performances winning the bronze in the 10,000 meter at the World Championships in Osaka and a victory of the 2007 Great North Run one month later. The Great North Run was her half-marathon debut and first race longer than 10K. Not to mention, Goucher beat marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe and posted the year's best women's half-marathon time of 1:06:57. Goucher showed promise on the roads, but her love of the track was a constant draw. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Goucher finished second in the 10,000m and first in the 5,000m qualifying for Beijing. At the 2008 Olympic Games, she ran both the 5,000m and 10,000m distances, finishing in 9th and 10th, respectively.
2008 also marked Goucher's marathon debut at the New York City Marathon, where she placed third in 2:25:53 - the first time an American was on the podium since 1994. Goucher's performances are bringing her to the forefront with the 2008 US Olympic Women's Marathon team taking a break from marathons. With such a strong start to 2009 with a win at the 2009 Lisbon Half Marathon in 68:30, nothing is stopping Goucher as she attempts her second career marathon and first Boston. Despite seven of the top ten female competitors having posted better marathon times than Goucher, she will be a driving force determined for an American victory of the esteemed marathon.
The last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985, who was twenty-three incidentally. Along with passion, Goucher will also benefit greatly from her coach, running legend Alberto Salazar, who won the infamous "Duel in the Sun" at Boston in 1982.
All eyes are on Ryan Hall whose marathon career has drawn attention back to the distance with top performances against the Kenyans in London and his win of the 2008 US Olympic Men's Marathon Trials. Similar to Kara Goucher, Hall made quite a statement in his debuts on the roads. In his half-marathon debut at the 2007 Houston Half Marathon, Hall ran 59:43, giving him the American record and the best time ever by a non-African-born runner. Hall ran the 2007 Flora London Marathon in 2:08:24, the fastest debut ever by an American-born runner. Later that year, he won the US Olympic Team Trials Marathon with a time of 2:09:02.
Hall's next foray into the marathon was again in London in 2008 where he finished fifth in 2:06:17, making him the second-fastest American marathoner behind Moroccan-born Khalid Khannouchi (2:05:38 in London and 2:05:56 in Chicago, 2002). Although his tenth place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in 2:12:33 was a disappointing finish, it has undoubtedly given him experience and the drive to push to unseat four-time Boston champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and end the twenty-five year domination of the race by international athletes.
Hall has the ability to put his mind to task and he would like to win Boston which is possible given his abilities on challenging courses and having the fastest marathon finish in a very deep field of elite talent.
Sell is an experienced runner whose versatility has allowed him to run competitively at many different distances. Turning 30 just days before the 2009 Boston Marathon, Sell is older - and with a PR of 2:10:47 is admittedly slower - than many of the other top runners. However, he came in third in the Olympic Trials in 2007, ran the marathon at the Beijing games in 2:16:07 coming in at 22nd, and won the 2008 San Antonio Half Marathon in 1:02:50. It deigns mentioning, too, that he ran the Boston Marathon in 2006, finishing fourth in 2:10:55. In that same year, Sell won the USA Half-Marathon Championships in 1:02:39, a PR for him until the 2009 Houston Half-Marathon, where he finished fifth in a time of 1:02:36. Sell is the quiet American, in the shadow of Ryan Hall, and likely won't catch his younger compatriot, but he can be counted on for a solid effort.