January 14, 2012

U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon

Talk about an epic race! This morning I got to watch the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon live in Houston and let me just say it was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Many of you have probably heard by now who made the team. On the men's side, Meb pulled away at the end for a 2:09:08 finish, followed by Ryan Hall and Abdi. In the women's race it was close as well but Shalane broke the tape first with a 2:25:38, followed by Desi and Kara. Can't say I was too surprised, but it was an exciting race nonetheless.
the Road to London is 26.2 miles...

The multiple loop course made it especially friendly for spectators as you were able to see the runners several times without running all over the place. Add to that the fact that our hotel was directly on the course and it was super convenient for us. We headed down just before the 8am start and walked up the street to wait for the men to come through for the first time. It was a perfect spot for spectating as it served as mile 2, 10, 18, and 26. The morning was beautiful and clear, but there was a little wind and when it picked up it got cold!
great for spectating, but I'm glad I'm not running this tomorrow!

 Erin, Chris, and I

Soon enough the pace truck and the motorcycles were zooming past then there they were! They were in a pretty tight pack but I could spot Meb and Ryan up in front. The way the course was set up had them coming down parallel streets so throughout the race, as soon as they would pass through on one side everyone would run across the street to see them again. We caught the men twice more before heading back to see the women's start, and by that time Ryan was in the lead!
 Ryan in the lead!
 the golden boy
 Ryan, Meb, and Ritz

There were a lot more women running than men so when they came through it just looked like a huge mob. It was harder to spot familiar faces early on but by the time we got to the other street Desi was leading at the front and the pack had spread out a bit. We were also able to spot badass Sacramento runner Jaymee Marty toward the back, running hard despite a nasty injury.

 Desi leading the way!
 that's a lot of fast women!
Jaymee, in blue, toughing it out!
We went back and forth several times, but it never got less exciting to see the runners come flying by! By mile 16 Meb, Ryan, and Abdi were in the lead for the men, followed closely by Dathan Ritz. In fact they covered that particular mile in a blazing 4:52! On the women's side a lead pack had formed with Desi, Shalane, Amy Hastings, and Kara. My money was on Desi for the win so every time I saw her pass in the lead I got excited!

lead men
Desi in the front
check out that stride!

Once the men passed mile 18 we headed to the already packed finish line a block away at Discovery Green park. After trying somewhat unsuccessfully to find a good spot to see the finish, we settled for a few rows back along the finish chute. Meb had managed to take the lead at that point and was passing the back pack of the women's race, cheering them on as he went. Not long after we could see Meb on the big screen entering the park and we heard the cheering get louder and then there he was! I think almost everyone had assumed it would be golden boy Ryan Hall winning the trials, but I'll admit I was really glad to see Meb take it. Poor Ritz rallied hard in the last few miles and came in seconds behind Abdi, just missing the team. We had a bit of a wait for the women who were still about 5 miles out, but we managed to eek a little bit closer while we waited. In the meantime we watched the rest of the men finish and saw Meb, Ryan, and Abdi take a victory walk, brandishing their American flags proudly.
trials winner, Meb
3rd place, Abdi

The women's race had whittled down to Desi, Shalane, and Kara at the front and as we watched the last few miles play out on the big screen it became a battle between Desi and Shalane for the lead with Kara just fighting to hang on. It was obvious at that point who would be making the team, but I was really hoping Desi would make a sudden surge and take off for the win. Turns out it was Shalane who gave a final kick and pulled away. Once again the crowds got louder as she got closer and then she was literally flying by! Desi was right on her heels and Kara was not far behind.

see Shalane at the 0:40 mark
women's Olympic team!
Kara, Desi, Shalane

We hung out for a while to see the women take their victory walk and to watch the rest of the women finish, including Jaymee. It was one of the most exciting and inspiring things I've ever seen, and I'm so glad I got to experience it in person. Just getting to the trials is an incredible accomplishment, so my hat goes off to all the amazing men and women who were out there today. "The Road to London" was pretty epic, and in the end I think we have some impressive men and women going to represent the good 'ol U.S.A.


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