I love the Olympic Trials Marathon. I suppose it is because it is what we could call grass roots elite. The truly world class are joined by the runners that show up at local races and are a part of running communities across the country. These are runners that for the most part have everyday real life responsibilities, like jobs and families, and are training at a very high level for very little pay. They are doing it for the love of running. That love may be for the competition, the challenge, the lifestyle, or the intrinsic rewards they get for being exceptionally good at something. The reality is there is a very short list of runners that could make the Olympic team by finishing in the top 3 spots.
This will be the largest Olympic Trials Marathon in history (the first women’s trials was in 1984) and makes a great statement about the progress of American marathoners. In 2000, the US did not have enough runners that met the Olympic standard to send a full team. With the number of runners that met the trials standard for 2016 serious thought has to be given to again raising the bar or maintaining a larger field. Either way will demonstrate the amount of talent and drive our marathoners possess.
One of the many great things about running, and the Olympic Trials Marathon is no exception, is that many victories will be realized despite the fact that only 1 man and 1 woman will win the races. Make no mistake everyone else would love to trade places with the winners. But for many this will be the biggest stage on which they will ever race and by running their best on this day it will eclipse many days where they did finish first.
When you watch the Olympic Trials Marathon on February 13th it will be enjoyable to watch as the races unfold and see the winners break the tape and the teams determined. But by taking a closer look you might be able to get a feel for all of the other running dreams that are realized that day.
Here is a look at some of the runners with Indianapolis area ties.
Jesse Davis’s 2:18:02 is the fastest of his 3 qualifying marathons. This is Jesse’s second trials marathon and will try to put a cap on an exciting last 3 months of running with a win at the Monumental Marathon and 5th place at the 50K World Championships
Noah Droddy broke through with a big PR at the Monumental Half Marathon and then took another 2:00 off of his best in January with a 1:04:17 in Arizona. Noah is currently training in Colorado.
Kyle Jordan was an All-American in college in cross country and track before moving up in distance and qualified with a 1:04:58 at the Monumental Half Marathon in 2014.
Other Indiana Men
Zach Mayhew 1:04:43 (Bloomington), Dustin Betz 1:04:51 (Schnellville), Jacob Kildoo 1:04:58 (South Bend), all qualified at the 2015 Monumental Half Marathon. Aziz Atmani (Indianapolis) also qualified with a 2:16:09 in 2013 but is currently retired.
Whitney Bevins-Lazzara was an early qualifier in 2013 and improved on that time in 2014 in Chicago by running 2:40:12. She has spent time at altitude and is now training in Houston and will be ready for a strong race.
Erin Vergara will be running her second Olympic Trials marathon and qualified with sub 1:15 halves at Monumental in both 2014 and 2015. She moved up through the field as the trials race went on and finished 23rd with a 2:37:06 in 2012. Erin is a strong and smart runner and will add to her many career highlights in LA.
Anna Weber had a breakout performance at Twin Cities this past fall running 2:38:14. Seeing the work she is doing via her social media posts we may see another breakthrough from Anna at the Trials.
Other Indiana Women
Becky Boyle (Bloomington) was one that did not get to celebrate her qualification at Monumental 2014 until the standard was adjusted more than a year later and found out via Facebook.
Alissa McKaig (Fort Wayne) ran 2:31:56 for 8th place at the 2012 Trials in Houston and qualified with a 1:13:59 half marathon.
The Olympic Trials Field by the Numbers
“A” Standard 2:15(5:09/Mile) 27 Qualifiers (13%)
“B” Marathon Standard 2:19 (5:18/M) 59 Qualifiers (28%)
“B” Half Marathon Standard 1:05 (4:58/M) 125 Qualifiers (59%)
Total Men Qualified = 211
“A” Standard 2:37 (6:00/Mile) = 42 Qualifiers (17%)
“B” Marathon Standard 2:45 (6:18/M) = 156 Qualifiers (63%)
“B” Half Marathon Standard 1:15 (5:44/M) = 48 Qualifiers (20%)
Total Women Qualified = 246
Matt Ebersole coaches a wide range of runners including 8 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifiers in his coaching career.