Posted by: Joe English | April 19, 2008

Preview: US Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials

Olympic Trials LogoBOSTON — Tomorrow morning the top women in America get their chance to bask under the spotlight of marathon racing and three women will earn spots on the US Olympic Team to represent the United States in Beijing.

The Women’s version of the US Olympic Marathon trials come the day before the 112th Boston Marathon and about six months after the men squared off to earn their Olympic slots in New York last November.

Rather than running in a point-to-point fashion from Hopkington into Boston, the Trials will be held on a special course that uses the Boston Marathon finish-line as both it’s start and finish. The course starts off through historic Boston with a one-time loop that passes Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, the State House and Beacon Hill.

Runners will then run four loops of approximately six miles each heading down Commonwealth Avenue, crossing the Charles River into Cambridge using the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, running east, then west along Memorial Drive. Runners then return from each of the Core Loops via Massachusetts Avenue.

Unlike the Boston Marathon course with its undulating hills throughout, the Trials course will be most flat. The only slowing factors for runners will be the numerous turns and u-turns on the course and the potential of wind along the Charles River. But with an exellent weather forecast, this special course should produce quick times.

The story of the day will be the crowning of an Olympic Trials Champion and the selection of three women to represent us at the Beijing Olympics. Considered the odds-on favorite is American Record Holder in the Marathon and 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist Deena Kastor. Kastor finished second in the 2004 Trials, after fading last in the race and being passed by Colleen De Reuck.

Kastor’s bronze medal was the first U.S. medal in the Olympic Marathon since Joan Benoit’s 1984 gold medal victory at the inaugural women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles and the first Olympic distance medal for the U.S. since Lynn Jennings’ 1992 bronze medal in the 10,000 meters in Barcelona.

Speaking yesterday here in Boston, Kastor noted of her last Trials race: “It was disappointing in 2004 because I wanted to win that race, but I guess I didn’t want it or respect it well enough back then, so that was my biggest mistake. I know not to make the same mistake twice, so here I’m not feeling pressure, but I feel the support of everyone around me and I feel confident in my preparations and my hunger to get out there and fulfill the rest of my goals for the rest of the summer.”

Kastor hopes to run a time in the 2:25:00 range in tomorrow’s Trials.

2004 Trial’s Champion Colleen De Reuck will not be racing in the Trial’s this year. Although she quailified to compete, she withdrew from the competition due to a calf injury.

Several other women to watch in tomorrow’s race are Elva Dryer, who ran 2:31:48 in the 2006 Chicago Marathon; Blake Russell who qualified with a 32:31.90 in the 10,000M and has run 2:29:10 in Chicago; and Kate O’Neil, training partner to Deena Kastor in prepartion for the Trials.

On paper, the next quicket qualifying time to Kastor’s was run by Jen Rhines (2:29:32), who is focusing on other distances and not running on in the Marathon Trials this year.

Here are the top 5 qualifying times set for in prepartion for this year’s Trials in both the Marathon and the 10,000M (runners could meet standard at either 10,000M or the Marathon to qualify):
1. Deena Kastor 2:19:36
2. Jen Rhines 2:29:32
3. Elva Dryer 2:31:48
4. Marla Runyan 2:32:17
5. Katie McGregor 2:32:36

1. Kara Goucher 31:17.12
2. Amy Rudolph 31:57.26
3. Sara Slattery 31:57.94
4. Amy Hastings 32:30.37
5. Melissa Cook 32:31.85

We will have complete coverage of the event live from Boston here on Running Advice and News. To watch the event, click here for Broadcast information.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running Advice and News


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