Runners qualify for the Olympics

February 1, 2012  
Filed under Feature

For football it’s all about the Super Bowl, for baseball it’s all about the world series, and for marathoners, it’s all about the olympics. In just about every sport, there’s a pentacle that pushes professional athletes to achieve great things.
On January 14, 2012 marathoners gathered in Houston, Texas to see who has what it takes to compete in the 2012 Olympic marathon. Just like the Super Bowl and any other huge sporting events, runners have to qualify just to run the trials race. For men the qualifying time was two hours and 19 minutes, and for women the qualifying time was two hours 46 minutes or better. The marathons are a total of 26.2 miles for both men and women. Total this year, 158 men qualified to run and 225 women qualified for the trials race.
It may appear that 158 and 225 participants in one race isn’t as big of a deal compared to the thousands that run in typical street marathons, but out of all the participants only the top three men and top 3 women get to continue from the Olympic trials and become a part of the U.S. Olympic team and run in London this summer.
This year on the men’s side, the competitors meant business. First, second, and third place went to Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman. This year was the top three finishers all broke 2:10, for the first time in trials history. Although only the top three qualify, fourth place finisher Dathan Ritzenhein also went under 2:10.
Following in suit with the boys, the girls side had records to break and so much to prove. In the end, Shalane Flanagan crossed the line first with a time of 2:25:55. Flanagan’s time was fast enough to not only set a personal record, but an Olympic trials record as well. On January 14, Flanagan officially made an Olympic team for the third time. Flanagan has proved herself enough that some believe she has the potential to bring home hardware from the London Olympic Marathon.
The final two qualifying positions in the girls raced were snatched up by Desiree Davila followed by Kara Goucher with times of 2:25:55 and 2:26:06. As Davila and Goucher were relieved of their stress and began celebration, it was a different story for fourth place finisher Amy Hastings, who finished close behind Goucher in 2:27:17. Although falling short of qualifying was a huge let-down for Hastings, she isn’t done yet. Hastings will compete in the track trials this June.
Both the girls and boys side appeared to have opposite strategies. The girls side began at a slower, more relaxed pace and gradually increased speed. On the boys side, the gun was fired and seconds later Hall set a fast pace leaving the back of the pack behind.
All things considered, it was a good day in Houston. The top three girls and boys will form the American Olympic marathon team and begin to prepare for the official Olympics race this summer.

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