This is the final piece of our Atlanta 2020 preview, done by Jeff Benjamin. Jeff just reminded me of this one!
“Gone With The Wind” – U.S. Army Invades Atlanta Once Again! By Jeff Benjamin –
The last time the U.S. Army invaded Atlanta, the year was 1864. General William Tecumseh Sherman and his force of thousands conquered, occupied and left a burning city in it’s wake during the Civil War, as immortalized in Hollywood’s blockbuster “Gone With The Wind.”
Well now – To Paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur – “They Have Returned”.
The U.S. Army’s “World Class Athlete Program” Track & Field team is loaded with marathoners looking to make the American Olympic team at this Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta. With only 3 coveted spots available, these competitors will most likely look to “burn” their competition so that, during the last stages of the race, they’ll hope to be “Gone With The Wind”.
This writer caught up with Col. Sean Ryan, WCAP track and field coach, who shared his thoughts.
“We have Lenny Korir (Who ran 2:07:56 in Amsterdam last Fall), Elkanah Kibet, Augustus Maiyo, Haron Lagat, Sam Kosgei (all Army) and Stanley Kebenei. Also Sam Chelanga, who is not with the team but still a great friend and Army Lieutenant now!
Marathon training has been going extremely well and now the runners are in the tapering phase, after going up to 140 miles a week during training camp in preparation for Saturday’s race. Preparing for the Atlanta course is difficult, especially when training from other locations, but along with Coach Scott Simmons, the miles and workouts replicated are what we believe the course will offer, and the athletes are trained not only on endurance aspect, but on speed, tactics and hills. Racing before the trials really took a back seat to training this cycle, but a few of the athletes ran the Pittsburgh 10-miler in November as their last race before the full marathon cycle started.
As coaches, we have been anticipating the Olympic Trials for quite a while, and probably more nervous than the athletes themselves. Coaches put a lot of time, energy and effort into each and every athletes preparation, logistics, equipment, and mental health. Much like other teams, we become ingrained into each other’s lives and become a small family. If any of our runners are fortunate to make the team and represent Team USA in Tokyo, everyone will be thrilled and honored. However, with only three spots available, we also know all our athletes will not see their dreams realized. This is disappointing and we will then develop different plans for them to reach their goals.”
Coach Ryan leaves us off with advice for youth runners.
“For young runners, the U.S. Olympic trials demonstrate one always has a chance to make the team, despite any obstacles. The top three fastest make the team and it does not matter where you came from, background or social status. However, many outstanding runners have brilliant careers and never make an Olympic team. Never let anyone or any event define you, and more importantly, do not set any limitations, seize the day and opportunities.”