BREAKING: USATF Men's Long Distance Running Chairman Ed Torres Speaks on Marathon Trials Selection Controversy
by Jon Gugala
Ed Torres, USATF Men's Long Distance Running Chairman, broke his silence today on the controversy over the selection of the 2016 Olympic team trials location. On January 29, USATF announced Los Angeles over Houston, overruling a five-person USATF committee on which Torres sat that ruled in favor of Houston, as reported by Road Race Management last month.
"At the annual meeting in December 2013 both LDR committees came to the conclusion that Houston had the upper hand and therefore we suggested to the USATF board that Houston should be awarded the trials," Torres writes.
Torres's committee decided this, he says, for two reasons. The first was the date. The Houston Marathon, in January, would offer the greater amount of recovery time to those athletes who would compete both in the marathon and on the track, and Torres points out that both fourth-place finishers in the 2012 marathon trials made the 2012 Olympic team in the 10,000-meters. LA's original date of March (which they have since changed to February in 2016 for this reason) would not be as beneficial.
"The other major factor for us was the [$100,000] extra in athlete prize money offered in the Houston bid," Torres says. "In the years since 2012 the earning opportunities for athletes have dried up. It is now harder than ever for an athlete to make it at the elite level. We could not with good conscience allow another 100k in prize money to leave the sport."
Torres says the LA Marathon was asked to match this amount, and they have declined. "With the athlete's best interest at heart," he says, "the committee is still hoping for LA to match Houston's offer."
"At the end of the day the race is about the athletes, and it's unfair for them to forfeit 100k in prize money without a say in the decision," Torres says. "The athletes need and deserve that money more than the non-profit we serve does."
Continue to follow RunBlogRun as this story develops.
UPDATE: In a follow-up interview with RunBlogRun, Torres elaborated:
"We're OK with LA hosting. We're hoping to get the [prize money] match that Houston offered for the athletes. That's all we're hoping for. We know LA will be capable of hosting it."