Kellyn Taylor is one of the athletes that could make a big impression in Los Angeles on February 13, 2016.
Here is how Carolyn Mather sees her chances on the five lap course...
KELLYN TAYLOR IS A BRIGHT AND RISING STAR
In examining and studying the entrants in the upcoming Olympic Trials marathon I have looked at all the "contenders". Shalane, Desi, Kara, Amy and Deanna all have the credentials to make the team. But there is a special athlete in Flagstaff, Arizona, who has been putting 100% plus into her training and she looks poised to be a real threat to the contenders.
As Shalane so aptly recognized in her 1/14 interview, she is most concerned about that woman who is poised to have a breakthrough experience on race day. I believe that lady is Kellyn Taylor. Kellyn is coached by the experienced and gregaroius Ben Rosario of the Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite team (NAZ Elite) and has slowly been working her way onto the professional running stage.
Her stats taken from the team's web page demonstrate a steady progression over the years since she graduated as one of the top runners of all time from Wichita State University. In 2012, Kellyn finished tenth in the 10,000 meters and qualified for the finals in the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. In 2013 she was fourth at the U.S. 10 Mile Championships (54:19), the top American at the Bloomsday 12k, she won the Green Bay Half Marathon (1:12:27), was sixth at the U.S. 5k Championships (16:01), won the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon (1:13:02) and was fifth at the inaugural US National Road Racing Championships over 12k (39:47).
In 2014 where she was 4th at the USA XC Championships, won the NACAC XC Championships, won the Collegiate Running Association 10k title, won the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon (1:11:51) and won the USA 25k Championships by nearly two minutes. She also PR'd at 5k (15:21) and finished 5th at the USA Outdoor Championships. In 2015, she shot to the very top of U.S. marathoning, running a 2:28:40 at the Chevron Houston Marathon, the sixth-fastest American debut of all time. She went on to PR over 10k (32:29) and the half marathon (1:10:59) later that year.
I caught up with Kellyn this week (January 20) after she had finished a great workout. Her coach is impressed by the progress she has made over the past year and pronounced her in better shape than before her debut in Houston last year. Kellyn loves her coach's hands on style and reports she is feeling very fit and believes she has a realistic chance of making the 2016 Olympic Marathon team. Kellyn is not only a mother of a five year old daughter but is finishing her degree in fire science. She reached her highest mileage ever this week at 111 and plans to take it to 114. She is part of a very supportive team and thrives on her training partners and doing the same work outs as the guys albeit at a slower pace.
Although she wanted to race the Rock and Roll Phoenix Half this weekend and take the series title, she is listening to her coach's advice and staying on the course to the trials, not diverting from her ultimate goal.
Flagstaff has had a very snowy season, but the team travels 45 minutes to an hour south where the paths are clear and the temperatures are 15-20 degrees warmer. She actually outran her male pacer on her just completed run. She plans to go out with the aforementioned favorites and not lose touch. With her twice a day runs, chiro, massage therapy and pre-hab strengthening, she is confident in her ability to toe the line with the contenders.
After two more weeks of hard workouts the team will go to San Diego to put the finishing touches on their preparation. Kellyn will have her daughter and husband with her and is looking forward to the race.
The team toured the course a few weeks ago and she calls it "a little crazy". Coach Ben counted 95 turns and 8 U turns but it is flat and obviously spectator friendly. It will definitely be a technical challenge but she is ready. She is also thrilled with the sponsorship of the team by Hoka One One. She says they have a different approach from previous companies and not only totally support the team but request input from the team into the designing process.
Kellyn has a ready smile and balances a life with her running. She committed herself totally to this process of making the Olympic team and I believe she is the lady to keep an eye on as we watch the trials.