Live Race Day Coverage: The Race As It Happens
The Trials: Complete Qualifiers/Entrants List |
Olympics Trials Complete History
Profiles/Interviews: The Favorites | The Contenders
USA Women's Olympic Team Trials - Race Coverage As It Happens
The Race is over and what a race it was....
After the race is run, we update these articles knowing in hindsight who was the winner, who the heartbreak and who the surprise. We'd like you - the reader - to experience some of the excitement of the race, so please read the race to see how it turned out. But here are the players in the race - the people that you need to know to understand who is who:
The Players to Watch (in hindsight):
Deena Kastor, the American Record Holder and runner-up at the 2004 Trials. Head and shoulders above the rest of the field, but still disappointed that she failed to win the 2004 Trials.
Blake Russell, due to injuries had not run a marathon in three years and qualified for the Trials with a 10,000M time (the only participant in this race to not qualify with a marathon). Fourth finisher at the 2004 Trials - meaning she just barely missed going to the Olympics four years earlier.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet - fifth at the 2004 Olympic trials. Her qualifying time of 2:42:38 (B standard) ranked her 46th on the list of qualifiers.
Mary Akor - the starter with the third fastest qualifying time, including 3 separate A-standard qualifiers and 7 separate B-standard qualifiers...
Desiree Davila - One of the Hansons, and after Brian Sell's performance at the Men's Olympic Trials, we all knew that the Hansons know the secret to getting their team members onto the Olympic team.
There were others in this race, but at some point, these were the important runners to watch and understand.
The race as it happened - Here is what we we saw as the race progresed... We didn't know how it would end..
The weather at the start is 47 degress - just perfect. The women, look very eager at the start. Someone needs to take the lead at the start, and that person is Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (who was 5th at the 2004 Trials). But we are less than one mile into the race and the pace seems very conservative at this point.
At one mile (6:03), Lewy-Boulet has built a twenty second lead. The rest of the pack is relatively tight and apparently willing to let one woman move away from the pack. Mary Akor leads the main pack and is setting the pace, but it is a nominal lead and the rest are allowing Mary to do the work and control the pace. Everyone that we would expect to be in the main pack is there, with at least fifty of the women in that main pack.
Lewy-Boulet ran through the two mile point at 11:50 - the rest of the pack is at 12:25, more than 30 seconds behind... With a qualifying time of 2:42:38 at the 2006 New York City Marathon and a 2:30:50 5th place finish at the 2004 Olympic Marathon trials, Magdalena could hold this pace and may continue to a win. With this course having multiple out-and-back segments, the women will soon know where everyone is - perhaps it is Lewy-Boulet's goal to create a gap before the others will know what is happening.
At mile 3, Lewy-Boulet is extendeing her lead. She is at 17:28, while the others are at 18:12. Mile 4 (23:05). Lewy-Boulet is now more than one minute ahead. She may not know how far ahead she is. In about five minutes, she will be coming back on the first out-and-back and she will see the others and they will see her. The reaction will undoubtedly be interesting.
Lewy-Boulet makes the turn and then 40 seconds later, she passes the others who are going the other direction. As the others make the turn, Mary Akor starts to push the pace slightly, but there are still twenty women in the main pack.
Mile 5 (28:48), Mile 6 (34:25). Lewy-Boulet maintains her lead, which as grown to just over on minute. All of the favorties are in the front group: Akor leads, followed by Deena Kastor, Elva Dryer, Blake Russell, Kate O'Neill, Samia Akbar, Chris Lundy, Desiree Davila, Desiree Ficker, Melissa White, Michelle Gallagher, Ann Alyanak and Zoila Gomez. Our count: 12 in that main pack...
10K (35:35), 7 mile (40:05), 8 mile (45:49). The story remains the same: Lewy-Boulet leads, the main pack is 79 seconds back, with 12 women in that pack. Mile 9 (51:29) - that's on pace for a 2:29:58. Rest of the pack is now 86 seconds back...
10 Miles (57:11). Lewy-Boulet's previous PR was 2:30:50 at the 2004 Trials. She is on pace for a new PR or to crash-and-burn. But, Lewy-Boulet set a 10,000M personal best just four weeks previously - she is in good shape. Now, the main pack is more than 90 seconds back.
Mile 11 (1:02:47). Lewy-Boulet is 1:40 ahead - her lead just keeps growing. Mile 12 (1:08:20). Lewy-Boulet is picking up the pace... 1:50 back are 11 women - the same group previously mentioned minus Chris Lundy who has fallen back.
Mile 13 (1:14:01), Half (1:14:38). Mile 14 (1:19:43). The second pack is 1:54 back. Ten women remain in the main pack in what is becoming a strategic race - Desiree Ficker is out of the pack, they seem completely uncerned with Lewy-Boulet and that could be a mistake.. Finally, Deena Kastor is starting to push the pace, with Blake Russell and Mary Akor matching her effort.
Deena Kastor has finally woken up. Just after mile 14, Kastor has started to run faster and is matched only by Mary Akor and Blake Russell. By just after mile 15, Kastor has broken away and is alone in second place and pulling away from Akor and Russell. Talking with Kastor before the race, we know that she wanted to win this Trials after finishing second in 2004. Russell, perhaps, has even more riding on this race after finishing 4th in the 2004 Trials - she wants aat least a third place finish in this race, she wants to make the team that she missed in 2004.
Mile 16 (1:31:06). Kastor 1:32:48; Russell and Akor at 1:32:53.
Mile 17/Mile 18 - finally, this race is taking form. Lewy-Boulet (1:42:15) continues her lead, but now Deena Kastor is moving strongly in second place.
Mile 20, 1:53:47 (Lewy Boulet), 1:55:02 (Deena Kastor), 1:55:53 (Blake Russell), Desiree Davila is in fourth place in 1:56:01 and Mary Akor is well back in fifth place. Davila, a star of the Hansons team is their best shot at getting a woman onto the Olympic Marathon team. After the success of Brian Sell in the Men's trials, the Hansons are hoping that Davila can make it onto the women's team. Blake Russell looks terrible, but (and no offense intended), she always looks terrible when she is running so this may or may not mean anything.
Mile 22 (2:05:36). Lewy-Boulet continues exactly on her pace, but Deena Kastor is catching her with every mile. At this point, Kastor is 30 seconds behind, but made up 20 seconds in just the last mile. Blake Russell continues in third place, but is almost 90 seconds behind Kastor. Desiree Davila is 20 seconds behind in fourth place. It looks like the end of this race can be predicted: Deena Kastor, Madalena Lewy Boulet, Blake Russell... Interestingly, these are the women who finished second, fifth and fourth just four years ago.
2:15:00 - Deena Kastor catches Lewy-Boulet and they run together for about 30 seconds. We can almost see Kastor acknowledging the effort of Lewy-Boulet in a magnanimous gesture. But we knew that Deena can outclass anyone in this field. We have just heard that Kate O'Neill has dropped out of the race.
Mile 24 (2:17:11), Deena is now five seconds ahead of Lewy-Boulet who is slowing just a bit, but not enough to threaten her second place standing. Blake Russell is running strong, she is away from any competition and barring some sort of disaster will finish in third place.
Mile 25 (2:22:46) - Deena Kastor is running each mile 25 seconds faster than Magdalena Lewy-Boulet who continues at a sub-6:00 pace. Kastor knows this is her race. She is smiling and waves to the crowd. On the final stretch, Kastor looks back - just to be sure that she is alone. She grabs an American flag and blows kisses to the crowd as she runs in with the biggest smile we've ever seen on Deena's face. She wins in 2:29:34 - in what looked so easy for Deena. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet.... What a great race. She ran strong the entire race and finishes second in 2:30:17, a new personal best. Blake Russell, clearly tired and slowing, finishes third in 2:32:41. These women were second, fifth and fourth in 2004 - each is so happy with their performance four years later - Deena winning the race that she wanted to win and the two alternates getting onto the team when they finished so close just four years earlier.
The race for fourth comes down to the final two hundred yards as two tired women perform what looks like a slow-motion sprint tot finish. Zoila Gomez takes fourth spot in 2:33:53 - the first alternate to the Olympic Team; and Tera Moody finishes in fifth place 2:33:54.
Post-Race Comments from the Runners:
Deena Kastor: I made both of my goals in this race: to make the team and to win the race. At one point I was worried that I may have made the wrong strategic decision. I kept hearing people on the side calling out "one minute forty" for mile after mile and knew that I wasn't gaining. At one point I decided to go, but made sure not to let the pace dip under 5:25.
Blake Russell: After the disaster in 2004, my coach and I sat down and realized that we needed to do something different. Right now this hasn't totally set in. But this was the team that I picked in advance. I have total respect for Deenaand am excited to be on this team.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet:I knew for the last few weeks that I needed to go out in my own race, to run 5:40 pace for the first 15 miles and then continue at that. At mile one and two I was uncomfortable and surprised that I was running alone, but after that the crowd - which was great - kept me going. I knew that I felt strong and around the fourth lap I knew that I was going to make the team. For a while I thought that I might win the whole race, but in the back of my mind I knew that Deena was coming.
Blake Russell: With two or three miles to go, I knew that I was going to make the team. I totally respect Magdalena, but it didn't look like her and I didn't know that it was her. I saw someone go, but I didn't think it was Magdalena I was looking for a pony-tail because she doesn't usually run
Joan Samuelson: Never say "Never." I can't say that I'll never run another marathon, but I'll never run another marathon at this level. I've trained really hard for this and have been treading a fine line.
What it All Means:
We always try to find meaning in everything and we wonder... Question 1: what does it mean that the top three finishers were the highest three finishers from 2004 who chose to run again in 2008? Does that mean that in four years nothing has happened in American women's marathoning? Question 2: On a totally flat/fast course, the third place finishing time was the slowest in Trials history (ignoring the unfortunate year 2000). Is depth missing or declining in women's distance runing? Besides Deena can the USA find a woman who can compete on the world level? Question 3: 56 women finished sub 2:45, the most since 1984 (when 64 women finished sub 2:45). Does this bode well for American women's marathoning? We don't have the answers, but we'll continue to hope only for the best.
A perfect day, an exciting chase race - deserving athletes - and the 2008 American Olympic Marathon Team...
Complete Finishers List:
|2||Magdalena Lewy Boulet||2:30:19|
|6||Turena Johnson Lane||2:34:17|
|17||Linda Somers Smith||2:38:49|
|47||Lori Stich Zimmerman||2:43:56|
Kastor and Lewy Boulet embrace at the finish
The top 3 finishers - the USA's 2008 Olympic Team Members
200 yards out, Gomez passes Moody - these two will be the team alternates