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Keflezighi and Flanagan Win at Olympic Trials Marathon
From USA Track & Field
HOUSTON - Two of the fastest races in Olympic Marathon Trials history took place on the same day Saturday in Houston as the six men and women who will represent Team USA in London earned their way on the squad. Shalane Flanagan set an Olympic Trials record of 2:25:38 in only her second marathon, while Meb Keflezighi earned his third Olympic berth by winning the Trials in a personal best time of 2:09:08. Flanagan led a Trials record five women under 2:30 while Meb led four men under 2:10 for the first time in Trials history.
Keflezighi’s performance (Mammoth Lakes, Calif) came only 69 days after his last marathon, where he also ran a then personal best time of 2:09:13 to place sixth at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon. The 2009 ING New York City Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic silver medalist became the first man to win both the U.S. Olympic Trials and the New York City Marathon in his career. At nearly 37 years old, he is the oldest man to win the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Defending Olympic Trials champion Ryan Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz) led much of the race en route to securing his second Olympic berth. Hall set a torrid pace early, with a projected finish of 2:06 that held up through the half-marathon mark. Wind and leg fatigue slowed Hall’s pace, as he shook his arms out regularly, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from again making the Olympic marathon team as finished second in 2:09:30.
Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.) turned heads in the lead pack. Entering the Trials with the 14th-fastest qualifying time, Abdi hadn’t run under 2:14 since setting his personal best of 2:08:56 in 2006. Soldiering through a year and a half of injury, Abdirahman finished third in 2:09:42 to clock his fastest marathon since 2006 and make his fourth Olympic Team at age 34.
Dathan Ritzenhein (Portland, Ore.), the top American marathoner at the 2008 Olympics, knelt at the finish with his head in his hands as he was 4th in 2:09:55. Ritzenhein had fallen off from Keflezighi, Hall and Abdirahman at approximately the 18-mile mark, and at one point lost sight of the leaders, but he rallied to finish only eight seconds behind Abdirahman.
Brett Gotcher (Flagstaff, Ariz.) led the chase pack through much of the race and held his position as other men fell off the back of the pack to place fifth in 2:11:06.
Flanagan (Portland, Ore.) bettered the women’s Olympic Trials Marathon record by two minutes and forty-seven seconds in her Olympic Trials marathon debut - just the second marathon of her career. Flanagan was in the lead pack throughout the race, but did not step forward as the clear leader until the 21st mile once the lead group of three was clearly set. Flanagan exchanged the lead with Desiree Davila (Rochester Hills, Mich.) several times before surging ahead at mile 24 to run away with the lead. Her winning time was a personal best by nearly 3 minutes.
Davila on Saturday added the word Olympian to her growing resume. Davila led portions of the race from five miles on before dueling with Flanagan in miles 22 through 24. Once Flanagan took the lead for good, Davila held on to finish in 2:25:55, only 18 seconds back.
The 2007 World Championships bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.) claimed her first spot on the Olympic Marathon squad by finishing third in 2:26:06 After not competing in 2010 due to maternity, this is Goucher’s second marathon in nine months after her 2:24:26 showing at the 2011 Boston Marathon.
Amy Hastings (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) appeared to be the last runner dropped by the top three as she fell back around 16 miles, but moments later she charged ahead to take the lead. However, by mile 20 she could no longer hold her position and fell back for good to finish in fourth in 2:27:17. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom finished fifth in 2:29:45, a nearly eight minute PR.
RRCA Road Scholar Spotlight
Congratulations to the following RRCA Road Scholar grant recipients that finished the Olympic Trials - Marathon.
In the men’s race, Brett Gotcher (2008 Scholar) finished 5th followed by James Carney (2005 Scholar) in 9th place. Mike Morgan (2005 Scholar) finished 17th followed by Patrick Smyth (2010 Scholar) in 22nd place, Stephan Shay (2010 Scholar) in 34th place, Tyler McCandless (2011 Scholar) in 50th place, Clint Verron (2001 Scholar) in 67th place, and Trent Briney (2005 Scholar).
In the women’s race, Deena Kastor (1997 Scholar) finished in 6th place followed by Michelle Frey (2007 Scholar) in 22nd place.