Photo Credit: Kevin Morris
Marathoners Brian Harvey and Madeline Duhon led B.A.A. athletes with Top 50 finishes at the USA Olympic Trials Marathon
On a day when the mercury in Boston was dipping below zero, the heat was turned up in Los Angeles for the USA Olympic Trials Marathon. With a sunny sky and temperatures rising quickly at the start of the marathon (and forecasted to hover around mid-70’s at the finish), the Road to Rio for the best American marathoners became a race of attrition and battle of willpower on the streets of L.A. The top three men and women finishers would earn a trip to the Olympic Games in August.
The B.A.A. sent seven athletes (three women and four men) to compete in the Olympic Trials Marathon, all hoping to be competitive and place high among the top American marathoners. The course design featured a 2.2 mile starting loop before sending athletes out on a six mile loop repeated four times; an ideal course design for spectating but a mental challenge for the athletes competing. The men’s race began at 10:06 a.m. with 166 starters and ended with only 105 finishers. The women’s race began at 10:22 a.m. with 198 starting the marathon and 149 finishing.
The American men started with the lead pack staying on the conservative side of pacing early on, with debut marathoner Galen Rupp pressing the pace late in the race and pulling ahead of Meb Keflezighi. Rupp won the marathon with a comfortable margin in 2:11:12, as Keflezighi was next to finish in 2:12:20. Jared Ward rounded out the top three in 2:13:00 as the final athlete to make the USA Men’s Marathon Team for Rio in August.
B.A.A. training partners Brian Harvey and Eric Ashe had L.A. on their mind since qualifying in October of 2014 at the Twin Cities Marathon. While Brian’s training appeared to peak at the right time for the marathon, Eric’s training had a few bumps on the road to L.A. with an untimely injury and illness. The difference was a well-executed race for Brian while Eric entered the race knowing the task at hand may be too much to ask of his body. Eric had to withdraw from the race after 6 miles while Brian went on to run a well-executed race placing 32nd overall in 2:23:17 to be the top finisher for the B.A.A. Brian knew the last 10K was going to be a grinder. The veteran racer looked forward to the challenge knowing many of his competitors would drop off the pace late in the race. Harvey stayed strong and moved up the pack to earn his Top 50 placing.
Just off of Brian’s shoulder early in the marathon was Matt Fischer, who qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon with a sub-65 minute half marathon in Philadelphia last September. In his debut marathon, Matt set his goal to stay with Brian for as long as he could and enjoy the experience under the warm conditions. Not only did Matt survive his debut marathon but he earned a Top 50 finish placing 40th overall with a time of 2:25:34. On any day, the marathon distance can be a humbling experience and even more so on a day when the weather doesn’t cooperate with race plans. Like Matt, Bo Waggoner qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Philadelphia Half Marathon last fall. Unfortunately for Bo, the race distance and the warm conditions got the best of him in his first marathon attempt and he had to withdraw from the race around the 20 mile mark.
The women’s race began just 16 minutes after the men’s start with pre-race favorite Shalane Flanagan and her training partner Amy Cragg setting the pace early, sharing the lead through 23 miles. With 5K to go, Flanagan was visibly suffering from the heat and fading fast. Cragg shared kind words of encouragement with Flanagan, helping her through the tough final miles. Cragg eventually went on to win in 2:28:20, with Desiree Linden overtaking Flanagan for second in 2:28:54. Flanagan held on for third place, solidifying the team for Rio.
The B.A.A. women were led by Madeline Duhon, a Stanford graduate who was happy to be back on the West Coast with friends and family cheering her on. Madeline qualified for the Olympic Trials just ten weeks prior to the race at the California International Marathon in Sacramento. Duhon ran a smart race and was the top B.A.A. women’s finisher in 2:45:20, good for 42nd overall. Not far behind and running a strong last 10K during the marathon to earn a Top 50 place was Rachel Hyland in 2:46:21 and 46th overall. Like Duhone, the B.A.A.’s Amanda Nurse qualified for the Olympic Trials just 10 weeks prior to the marathon. Last September, Amanda ran the Berlin Marathon to lower her personal best by six minutes, then ran her Olympic Trials qualifying race a short ten weeks later at the Cal International Marathon. In L.A., Amanda ran a gutsy race placing 62nd overall in 2:49:15. Amanda’s ready for a well-deserved rest from training and racing marathons.
Congrats to the all of the B.A.A. athletes who competed in the USA Olympic Trials Marathon in L.A.!
Click below for the Men’s and Women’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon results: