On November 3, 2007, 134 of the 179 male marathoners who have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon qualifier will line up in New York City. Over the one four mile loop and four five mile loops, the three runners who will represent the U.S. in the marathon in Beijing next summer will be chosen, based on their finishes and their
times..a brutal system, so who is going to win? ….
Okay, I have sacrificed a goat in my backyard, killed a fatted calf and had a Moose Drool Beer to help pick my final marathon team. So, here it goes:
The skills that it takes to win a city marathon around the world, and the skill set that it takes to win an Olympic or World Championship marathon medal are two entirely different skill sets.
Likewise, the guys who run the Olympic Trials marathon through Central Park on November 3 will number 134 strong. Most of them are there for proudly making the committment to train and making the standard. They want to place in the top fifty, the top thirty, set a personal best, finish, run well, or perhaps, participate in an Olympic Trials. Most of the qualifiers are normal guys with normal jobs and families, and they put their 130 miles a week in before and after work.
Bill Rodgers said that no one who worked forty hours a week at a regular job would ever beat him on the roads or at the marathon distance. He was right. To master the marathon takes a time committment of four to ten years, a strong coach-athlete relationship, good health, great, injury-free training and the right mind set. A good sponsor helps as well.
In 2004, it was obvious that Meb Keflizighi had trained well for the marathon. He had raced well in the previous years at the 5k and 10k distance. He had tried the marathon and had good days and bad days. He seemed to favor marathons that were harder courses, more tactical events.
In Athens, during the conditions there, which were truly hot, truly humid and a bit smoggy, Meb and Stefano Baldini ran away with the race. Meb stayed focus on the task at hand, took his sports drinks, watched his competitors, and made his moves when he needed to execute. Meb Keflizighi ran his perfect race, and won the silver. It just so happened that Stefano Baldini ran his perfect race and won the gold.
Meb Keflizighi, in my mind is a championship marathon racer. So is a guy like Brian Sell, who showed his championship ilk at Helsinki in 2005.
The criterium course is a good idea for several reasons. It will mimic some of the issues that a runner will face in a championship race, where there are many good marathoners, and the race comes down to the final few miles.
My predictions for the 2008 Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials from gut, watching many of the runners over the last four years:
I believe that any of the following eight can make the team.
The hot runners right now: Abdi Abdirhaman, Meb Keflizighi, Dan Browne
The runners with the most potential: Ryan Hall, Ryan Shay,
The fast closers: Alan Culpepper, Brian Sell
The surprises: Peter Gilmore, Dathan Ritzenheim
The real surprises: Jason Hartmann, Khalid Khannouchi
My final five, not in order: Abdi Abdirhaman, Meb Keflizighi, Brian Sell, Ryan Hall, Peter Gilmore
I still think that there will be a huge suprise in second place…
For more information on the Men’s Trials, please check: http://www.american-trackandfield.com
For more information on the Running Network, please check: http://www.runningnetwork.com
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