A weekend in Houston: 50 weeks until the 2012 Oly Marathon Trials, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Official seal of City of Houston

It is late on Thursday night in Houston. The official marathon and half marathon weekend in Houston begins tomorrow with the press conferences at 11 am. Ryan Hall is here, so is Jorge Torres, Jason Lemkuhle, Sergio Reyes, Dan Browne & Patrick Smythe. On the women's side,
Magdelena Lewy Boulet, Jenn Rhines, Katie McGregor, Colleen de Reuck and Serena Burla, Terra Moody and Zoila Gomez are all running the half marathon.

They will get a chance to race the new Olympic Trials marathon course under tough conditions on Saturday. Will this give them just that little bit of extra assistance to put one or more of them on the Olympic team for 2012? Only time will tell.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials will be a war of attrition. No one is guaranteed a place on the team, and quite frankly, no one is that far ahead to be considered a definite for the squad, on the men or women's side. This may be the most open Olympic Trials marathon since 1984.

This is not a bad thing. The truth is, many of our men and women have been focusing on the 10,000m and the half marathon, which is where they need to be. The marathon is not an easy event, especially at the rarefied paces that elite men and women run the races these days.

The good news is that we have athletes, on both the men and women's sides, who can play with the world's best. Meb Keflizighi has been our best championship marathon runner for the guys. Why? Because Meb understands that the race starts at 22-24 miles. On the women's side, Deena Kastor's 2004 run is still, well, the standard. Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Magdelena Lewy Boulet have all run tough marathoners, got dirtied a bit, and have run some good times, but, to be in the top three in a World Champs or Olympics is a totally different story. That is what the next year is about. Who will take the time, to not only do the miles, and the tempo runs, but get their heads and spirit in the right place?

First, making the U.S. team will take a supreme effort, and then, eight months later, an effort that could not earlier be imagined, or one will be so agonizingly close....the road to London will begin this coming weekend, and not be answered until the middle of January 2012.

Svoboda 7.55, Chepseba 3:35.78

CHEMNITZ (GER, Jan 27): The Erdgas Hallenmeeting in Chemnitz was returning on the renewed track with German triple jump record as Katja Demut improved the 14 years old mark of Petra Lobinger by 9 cm with 14.45.  Poland´s national record for second placer Malgorzata Trybanska 14.16. From international point of view the best result came from Kenyan Nixon Chepseba who won the 1500 m in impressive indoor life-time best 3:35.78 ahead of William Biwott 3:36.02 and Moroccan Abdelaati Iguider 3:36.29. European champion Renaud Lavillenie won again after Cottbus when he cleared 580 as the winning mark. The Frenchman tried afterwards at 603 and the attempts were not bad. Malte Mohr was best German as second (560). Czech Petr Svoboda improved his own world leading mark by 0.01 with 7.55 at 60 m hurdles. Second US Jeff Porter 7.66 and third former European indoor champion Gregory Sedoc from Netherlands (7.67). Nigerian Egwero Ogho-Ogene dominated the 60 m with twice 6.64 (heats and finals). Second French junior world medalist Jimmy Vicaut improved to 6.66. His older country-mate and former European indoor record holder Ronald Pognon was only 4th in B-finals (6.82, before that 6.79 in heats). German sprinter Christian Blum clocked Paris standard 6.67 in heats. Another German Alyn Camara won the long jump with 786 (780) ahead of Ghana´s top jumper Ignisious Gaisah 786 (778). Ralf Bartels got 20.24 over Marco Schmidt 20.20 and Croatian Nedzad Mulabegovic who registered national indoor record 20.04. In remaining women events new Swiss star Lisa Urech won the 60 m hurdles in 8.06 (European champion Eline Berings only 4th 8.17). Former African Champion Vida Anim of Ghana won the 60 m in 7.30 ahead of Ailis McSweeney of Ireland who improved her life-time best to 7.34, third Italian Manuela Levorato 7.35 (but 7.31 in heats). Czech 400 m hurdles specialist Zuzana Hejnova won the flat distance with solid 53.40 and qualified for Paris. French Linda Marguet (27) won the 800 m in good quality career indoor best 2:02.87 ahead of Czech Barcelona finalist Lenka Masna (2:02.99). Ethiopian world junior medalist from steeple in Moncton Adamu Birtukan in her first ever indoor competition won the 3000 m in 9:07.11. Home win for Christina Schwanitz in shot put 18.05.

Udras, new name at 190+ level
TARTU (EST, Jan 27): Grete Udras was the sensation at the first Kuldliiga series meet in Estonia. The 22-years old jumper had as indoor best 184 but cleared here 192 and qualified for European Indoors. Russian Aleksandra Kiryashova went over 451 in pole vault and another Russian Tatyana Voykina leaped to 654 in long jump. Reigning European long jump indoor champion Ksenija Balta came close to her own national 60 m hurdles record 8.16 with 8.22. Former European champion Stanislav Olijars won the 60 m hurdles in 7.74 ahead of multi-eventer Andres Raja 7.87. Latvian Maris Urtans was the best in shot put (19.69) and Cuban Freddy Mayola was the fastest at 60 m (6.78).

Povh 7.15 at 60 m
ZAPORIZHZHIYA (UKR, Jan 27): Relay European gold medalist Olesya Povh confirmed current world number one position. She won the 60 m in fast 7.15 during first day of National Cup meet. Second Mariya Remen improved her best to 7.21. 800 m specialist Yulia Krevsun won the 1500 m in 4:16.09. Andriy Semenov got 20.12 in shot put and combined eventer Oleksiy Kasyanov was impressive long jump winner (760). Inna Akhozova scored world leading 4308 points in heptathlon.


Semenya_CastorSF-WC09.JPGCaster Semenya, 2009 WC Berlin, photo by PhotoRun.net.

JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African 800 m world champion Caster Semenya claims she is unfazed by the high profile row that forced her to undergo a series of gender verification tests to prove her sex. After her Berlin win she faced widespread accusations regarding the legitimacy of her gold medal because of questions over her gender. Despite the obvious turmoil, Semenya said she is unconcerned. "I didn't see it as a big deal, I know people talk but I don't care," the 20-year-old told BBC Newsnight. Now allowed compete again, Semenya has her sights firmly set of the future. Her goals now are defending her World Championship crown at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu later this year and ultimately winning gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Informs insidethegames.

ZARAGOZA (ESP): Spanish record holder at 100 m hurdles Josephine Onyia returns to competition after her two years doping ban. The world indoor 2008 finalist will run at the Zaragoza meeting on Saturday. The indoor best of former Nigerian is high quality 7.84.

KARLSRUHE (GER): The German BW-Bank Meeting in Karlsruhe (February 13) announced the participation of World Indoor Champion Lolo Jones of USA. She will aim to win for the third time in a row here at 60 m hurdles.

AMSTERDAM (NED): Both Dutch 800m athletes Arnoud Okken en Bram Som will not run at the Dutch national indoor championships on February 12 and 13. The reconstruction of the indoor track in Apeldoorn will take longer than expected and therefore the 800m will be run on a 4 lane track. Both athletes gained permission by the KNAU to run international competitions in that weekend writes losseveter.nl.

LONDON (GBR): Dathan Ritzenhein has withdrawn from the 2011 Virgin London Marathon on April 17th with a persistent ankle injury. The 28-year-old American was aiming to smash his personal best of 2:10:00 but an ankle injury sustained while training indoors in December has been slow to heal writes Insidethegames. The men's field for the London marathon is one of the best in history with defending champion Tsegaye Kebede, the Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru and the world champion Abel Kirui.

LONDON (GBR): World indoor 60 m champion Dwain Chambers will open his 2011 season at the Birmingham Indoor Games on February 5th and 6th. Chambers just returned from warm weather training in South Africa and believes he is in good form. In Birmingham Chambers will take on Leon Baptiste, Craig Pickering, Allyn Condon, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Denmark's Martin Krabbe. Marylin Okoro will also start her season in Birmingham by running a 400m against Ireland's Marian Heffeman and Denmark's Sara Petersen, reports Athletics Weekly.

INDIANAPOLIS (USA): Hurdlers David Oliver and Lolo Jones will lead Team USA at the Five Nations Match in Glasgow on January 29th. Also on the team are sprinter Ryan Bailey, high jumper Jesse Williams, Lejerald Betters for the 400m, Duane Solomon in the 800m, Dan Huling for the 3000m, and Kenta Bell in the triple jump. The women's team is completed by Alexandria Anderson in the 60 m, Consuella Moore in 200 m, Shareese Woods for the 400 m, Molly Beckwith in the 800 m, Karly Hamric in the 1500 m, Allison Kieffer for 3000 m, Jenny Soceka in the pole vault and Funmi Jimoh in the long jump, reports USATF.

LONDON (GBR): Olympic Gold medalist Linford Christie will stand trial on a charge of dangerous driving following a car crash with a taxi in Buckinghamshire. Both drivers and two passengers needed to be hospitalized after the crash. A police investigation found Christie to be at fault writes contactmusic.com.

NEW YORK (USA): American decathletes Bryan Clay, Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton hope to achieve a 1-2-3 at this year's IAAF World Championships in Daegu. All three athletes believe strongly in their chances and hope their performances might help them commercially in the build up to the London Olympic Games in 2012 reports Universal Sports. They will compete on Friday at 104th Millrose Games in New York in a special multi challenge (shot, 60 m hurdles, high jump). It is the first IAAF Indoor Permit of the 2011 season. Arrivals on Thursday were affected by snow. USA-Jamaica in sprints is another attraction. World indoor winner Veronica Campbell-Brown is the star for women 60 m. Hurdler Bershawn Jackson is the top name for men´s 600 y. Bernard Lagat will try for his 9th Wanamaker mile win. World champion Christian Cantwell is the top name for men´s shot put and Brazilian Fabiana Murer in women´s pole vault. Galen Rupp runs the 2 miles.

LAUSANNE (SUI): Double Olympic 400 m hurdles champion Ed Moses has spoken of his concern for the future at a reception at the Beau- Rivage Hotel in Lausanne to launch the World Fair Play Awards and the AIPS Power of Sport Awards in Lausanne. IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking at today's AIPS Symposium "Integrity in Sport - Illegal Betting, the Threat," announced he will host a summit in March focussed on the issue of the growing problem of illegal sports betting.

DRESDEN (GER): The jumping meeting in Germany on Friday in Dresden will see a battle in women´s pole vault among the Germans Kristina Gadschiew and Julia Hutter against the Barcelona fourth placer Anastasiya Shvedova of Belarus and best Czech Jirina Ptacnikova. Former world indoor medalist Andrey Tereshin from Russia is the top name for men high jump competition. Mikhail Tsvetkov who cleared this season already 230 is the second favorite.

INDIANAPOLIS (USA): The USA Running Circuit (USARC) gets underway Saturday with the running of the 2011 USA Half Marathon Championships, presented by Aramco Services Company.  Returning to Houston for the first time since his American Record run in 2007, Ryan Hall, headlines a field that includes fellow Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet and a host of top U.S. athletes competing for a total prize purse of $59,500. Joining Hall in his reconnaissance mission in Houston will be Jorge Torres, a 2008 Olympian at 10,000 meters; Patrick Smyth, the 2010 Half Marathon Championships runner-up; 2004 Olympian Dan Browne (Chula Vista, Calif.); Jason Lehmkuhle (Minneapolis, Minn.), 2008 Half Marathon runner-up; and Sergio Reyes the 2010 USA Marathon Champion. The women's race will see 2009 champion Boulet face a deep field that includes 2010 USA Running Circuit champion Katie McGregor; three-time Olympian Jen Rhines; 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon champion Colleen De Reuck,  2010 runner-up Serena Burla; and Zoila Gomez and Tera Moody the fourth and fifth place finishers from the women's 2008 Olympic Trials Marath

MONCTON (CAN): Local media are informing in Canada, that the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton last summer generated $127.5 million in gross economic impact throughout New Brunswick, according to figures released by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. The event was held in Moncton from July 19-25 and saw an estimated 75,000 spectators attend the 11 sessions of the championships, which were held at the newly constructed Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium.

ROTTERDAM (NED): Dutch Hilda Kibet will run the 31st ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam on Sunday, April 10th. Also top Dutch male runner Koen Raymaekers is contracted to run. Kibet so far completed 3 marathons, her best from last October is 2:26:23.

HOUSTON (USA): Teshome Gelana of Ethiopia will defend his title at the 39th edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday. Gelana set a new course record to win last year's race in 2:07.37, along with $35,000 prize money. The previous record was held by fellow Ethiopian Deriba Merga. Teshome will be supported by countryman Hussein Adelo, who came in fourth at Houston last year running a personal best time of 2:09:09. In the women's marathon, Ashu Kasim of Ethiopia holds the No. 1 seed after winning the Istanbul-Eurasia Marathon in Turkey last October, setting a course record of 2:27:27. Joining her will be three other Ethiopian female athletes: Belainesh Gebre (2:32.12), who won the 2010 Honolulu Marathon on her debut; Mamitu Daska, winner of the 2010 Dubai Marathon (2:24:18), and newcomer Tigist Tufa.


JIMMA (ETH, Jan 26): The final race of the 2011 MDG Races Series concluded colorfully in Ethiopian Jimma. Around two thousand participants took part in the 7km and 1.6km children races. Dessie Indris from Amhara Region won the elite men race at a time of 19:29 and Birhanit Migbaru from Oromia Region won the elite women race at a time of 22:51.


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