The most anticipated marathon of the fall season for U.S. roadies is the U.S. men’s Olympic Trials, held in New York City, the day before the ING NYC Marathon. All of the top players will be there, and this should provide for an exciting race! But, on the roads and tracks around the country, the final outcome of this race is being developed, as athletes work on their final training, and at least one athlete, the surprise, tries to convince himself that he can do it, he is good enough to be called an..Olympian…
U.S. distance fortunes have never looked better, after Osaka. The double of Bernard Lagat, at 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. The bronze of Kara Goucher in the 10,000 meters, which excited the entire stadium and all of the U.S. track watchers. The near medal run of Matt Tegankamp in the 5,000 meters and the performances of Jenn Rhines and Shalane Flanagan in the women’s 5,000 meters-all were inspiring.
And now, the 2008 Men’s Olympic Trials. The course, which will go over a challenging road loop four times, will keep the race honest. This race will not be a speed burner, but it will give the strength runners alot of advantage. The goal should be to get the best team to Beijing, who have chances of medals.
Medals? Yes, medals. From Meb Keflezighi to Brian Sells to Ryan Hall to Peter Gilmore, there are athletes who can run fast marathons and there are athletes who rise to the occassion. Meb Keflezighi ran the perfect ract in Athens, in conditions that will mimic the heat and humidity of Beijing ( just add the smog). Meb broke 28 minutes on the road and just race 27;41 on the track, he is coming into form. Brian Sells, who has run so well in Boston, and who ran a strong race in Helsinki, could be the next American to surprise and move over the last several kilometers, which should be key in Beijing.
Ryan Hall, who has the half marathon AR and the marathon debut record for the U.S., could be the toughest of all. It just depends if he can recover from London, and he is focused-Hall has the talent to not only win the Trials but medal in Beijing–he can be dangerous. Peter Gilmore represents the surprises, the guys training out there with a few friends, like Don Kardong in 1976, Kyle Heffner in 1980, Mark Conover in 1988-guys who believed in themselves and stayed calm on race day.
Making the team on November 4, 2007 for the U.S. Olympic team will require three runners to have near perfect races. By the time all line up that morning, the race will come down to 20 real contenders. 10 of them will be overtrained or slightly injured and the other ten will be the players. In this group will be a few surprises, and on the course planned by the New York Road Runners, someone will be catching the field with a couple of miles to go.
Whether that person can catch third place will wait to be seen. The Olympic Trials will go to the gifted, the patient and the inspired. The problem is, that there are over one hundred and twenty marathoners who have to fit into one of those three positions. This will be an exciting and inspiring race to watch.
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