US Olympic Trials - Womens Marathon Preview
QUALIFYING STANDARDS: Olympic Marathon Trials “A” qualifying standards are 2:15:00 (men) and 2:37:00 (women). Men’s and women’s “B” qualifying standards for entry for the marathon are 2:19:00 and 2:45:00, respectively, and for the half marathon 1:05:00 and 1:15:00.Every four years the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are held to determine Team USA berths. On Saturday, February 13, the country’s best distance runners will battle in downtown Los Angeles. The top three finishers in each race will earn berths on the Olympic team in Rio DE Janeiro, Brazil for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in August.
Total number of qualified men: 211 By marathon: 86 By half marathon: 125 Attained "A" standard: 27 Attained "B" standard: 184 Total number of qualified women: 246 By marathon: 198 By half marathon: 48 Attained "A" standard: 42 Attained "B" standard: 204
THE COURSE: The 2016 course has been designed to be runner- and spectator-friendly and could produce some of the fastest times in the event’s history. The multi-loop course starts and finishes near the LA Convention Center. It begins with a 2.2-mile loop that heads north into downtown Los Angeles and then covers four 6-mile loops south of the start/finish area. Major landmarks along the course include the Staples Center, LA Live, and the historic Memorial Coliseum. THE WEATHER: The current Saturday forecast is a low of 55° and a high of 82°. Humidity should be low and there may be some cloud cover at times. Unfortunately, the races don't start until 10:06 AM for the men and 10:22 AM for the women. We anticipate temperatures to be between 65° and 70° at the start and up to 80° at the finish. This will definitely be a factor in the race. Runners who have prepared for the heat will have an advantage and hydration and fueling on the course will be key factors. Expect the heat to affect the pace of the race as well. WOMEN'S RACE: Several marathon veterans return and this race would seem more locked up than the men's. In fact, most of the contenders were also the favorites in the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon. The top qualifiers:
Shalane Flanagan - 2:21:14 (Berlin 2014). Defending Olympic Trials Marathon champion. 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters. 10th in 2012 Olympic marathon. Her most recent indicator of fitness was a 1:12:42 half marathon in December.
Desiree Linden - 2:23:54 (Boston 2014). 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon runner up. 2015 Pan Am Games silver medalist at 10,000 meters (32:43).
Amy Cragg - 2:27:03 (Chicago 2014). 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon 4th place. Her most recent indicator of fitness was a 1:12:42 half marathon in December Deena Kastor - 2:27:47 (Chicago 2015) U.S. Masters Record. 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in marathon. The other returning member of the 2012 Olympic team is Kara Goucher. After the London Games, Goucher changed coaches, training locations (Portland, or. to Boulder, Co.) and sponsors and underwent knee surgery.
By qualifying times, Goucher enters the trials seeded No. 43 overall. The qualifying window was Aug. 1, 2013, through Jan. 17, 2016. Goucher’s only marathon in that stretch was a 2:37:03 at a cold-and-windy New York City 2014. It was her slowest career marathon. In November and December, when she won half marathons in 1:11:13 and 1:11:10, her fastest since 2012. Other contenders: Serena Burla - 2:28:01 at Amsterdam (Oct. 2013), 2:31:06 (Aug. 2015) to get 10th at World Track and Field Championships in Beijing, China. Temperature at race start was 70° with 88% humidity. She recently ran 1:12:39 at the Houston Half Marathon (Jan. 2016). Sara Hall - 2:31:15 PR at Chicago (Oct. 2015). She recently ran 1:10:07 in the Houston Half Marathon (Jan.2016). Kellyn Taylor - 2:28:40 at Houston (Jan. 2015). She ran 1:10:59 at the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half (Oct.2015). Janet Bawcom - 1:11:49 at Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon (Jan.2016). ______________________________________ In the latter part of 2015 Amy Hastings-Cragg relocated to Portland, Oregon and changed coaches and sponsors, joining the Jerry Schumacher led Bowerman Track Club. She's been doing her build up and training with Shalane Flanagan, including stints at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, in preparation for the trials. How I expect the race will unfold: As they have been training together, I see Flanagan and Cragg working together to set and keep an honest pace. Flanagan had a minor setback last fall as she dealt with a stress fracture, but even at 90-95% fitness she will still be a factor here. I would expect them to go through the half somewhere around 1:14 with a small pack of 5-10 runners still with them. I think that they'll continue at a similar pace and competitors will gradually fall off of the pace. I think that it will come down to Flanagan, Cragg, Linden, Kastor, Hall and Burla at 20 miles. Over the last few miles the battling will truly begin and I expect Desi Linden to start forcing the pace. Cragg should be able to cover and moves and be able to pull away for the win as the finish nears. I expect Flanagan to hang on for third.