USA Olympic Marathon Trials Quick Report
by David Monti
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
HOUSTON (14-Feb) -- Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan won the USA Olympic Trials Marathon here on a chilly, picture-perfect day in southern Texas. All six podium finishers earned spots on the USA Olympic Team for the London Olympics in the world's only binding Olympic marathon trials which pick an entire team on one day.
Off of a fast early pace set by his key rival Ryan Hall, Keflezighi, from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., eventually broke away from Hall and three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman in the 24th mile. Keflezighi, who also ran the ING New York City Marathon last November, broke the tape in a personal best 2:09:08, making his third Olympic team.
"This race was all about 1-2-3," the 36 year-old father of three daughters told the crowd assembled at the finish area. He added: "I just wanted to make my third Olympics for my girls."
Hall, the defending Trials champion who had the pack on a sub-2:07 pace in the early miles, finished second in 2:09:30. Abdirahman, who dropped off the lead pace in the final miles, struggled to hold his form and take third place in 2:09:47, just 8 seconds ahead of the closing Dathan Ritzenhein. For Abdirahman, his performance today puts him on his fourth Olympic team.
"I made my fourth Olympic team," said Abdirahman who spent most of last year on the sidelines with a stress fracture in his right leg. "It's amazing."
In the women's race, which started much more conservatively than the men's, an early pack of nine dwindled to four in the 15th mile: Flanagan, Amy Hastings, Kara Goucher, and Desiree Davila. Hastings, fell back, rejoined the group then fell back for good and would finish fourth (2:27:17). At the front, Flanagan and Davila worked together to drop the slightly under-trained Goucher, then Flanagan spurted away from Davila at the 40-K mark. Her long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, Flangan strided smoothly to the finish in an Olympic Trials record of 2:25:38, which was also a personal best. It was also her first marathon victory.
"These are dreams," Flanagan, who lives in Portland, Ore., told the crowd in her post-race interview. "We fulfilled dreams today."
Davila finished a close second in 2:25:55 making her first Olympic team, and Goucher --who like Flanagan is coached by Jerry Schumacher under the Nike Oregon Track Club program-- was third in 2:26:06. All four of the top finishers smashed the Trials record of 2:28:25 set by Colleen De Reuck in St. Louis in 2004.
Today's separate races for men and women, which began 15 minutes apart, had 114 starters on the men's side and 191 on the women's.