Sunday, December 18, 2011

Road to Houston: An early look at the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials contenders

On Sunday, I covered the early contenders for the Men's race. Today, we'll look to the Women's Contenders for the "Road to Houston." These are what I think are the top ten contenders, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone like Jen Rhines showed up big on race day and made the squad. Another darkhorse is the always tough, Tera Moody, who came out of nowhere to finish fifth at the 2008 trials. But that's the beauty of it, someone will show up race day and make a run at it that we didn't expect!

Shalane Flanagan. So hot right now.
1. Shalane Flanagan
Resume: 2nd at NYC Marathon (2:28:40 in 2010). Bronze at 2011 World Cross. Top Half mark (68:36 at Philly 2010). American Record Holder at 10,000 (30:34.39 in 2009). Bronze Medalist at Olympic 10,000 (2008 in Beijing).
Why she'll make the team: Flanagan appears to be in peak shape and has made a strong commitment to the marathon with her coach, Jerry Schumacher. Davila will be the only one that could take the US title from her at Houston.
Why she may not: The only way Flanagan doesn't make this team is if she goes out very hard and bonks. This won't be likely as she'll likely have a race plan that involves negative splitting.

2. Desi Davila
Resume: 2nd at Boston in 2011 with top mark in the marathon (2:22:38). PR'd over 5,000 (15:08) and 10,000 (31:37) on the track in the 2011 season.
Why she'll make the team: Her gutsy performance at Boston, followed by huge PR's during the track season show Desi is ready to roll. Expect her to challenge for the win, with little chance she'll fall out of the top three.
Why she may not: Davila's fitness appears to be at a higher level than ever and it would take an injury or a mistimed move to keep her off the London squad.

Davila waited patiently in Boston
3. Kara Goucher
Resume: 2nd best mark in the half (1:09:11 at NYC in 2011). 2nd at 2011 US Championships at 10,000 (31:16). 3rd at Boston Marathon (2009). Bronze Medalist at 2007 World Championships at 10,000.
Why she'll make the team: A seasoned veteran and a bulldog of a racer, Goucher will throw every effort at qualifying for this team and has proven, when needed, to rise to the occasion.
Why she may not: Since giving birth to her son, Colt, Goucher has faced the injury bug. While she appears to be rounding into fitness, her 1:12:59 at Miami Beach shows she's no shoe in.

4. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom
Resume: 2011 USA Running Circuit Champion. Has run 1:11 in the half four times.
Why she'll make the team: Cherobon-Bawcom has been excellent as of late, winning the USA Running Circuit in impressive fashion and winning the 2011 BAA Half Marathon.
Why she may not: She's yet to run a great marathon. Can she keep up with the big three? It will take a big effort to make the team, but something that she's capable of.

5. Amy Hastings
Resume: 2nd at 2011 LA Marathon in her debut (2:27:03). Ran a PR of 15:14 at 5000 this summer.
Why she'll make the team: Hastings 2:27 was run in her debut. After that, she improved her track times. She has the speed to hang with the best. Also, trains with Deena and Angela Bizzarri in Mammoth.
Why she may not: She only has one marathon under her belt and is more of a track specialist. She'll have to have another great race, with some luck, to make the team.

The 2008 team of Magda, Deena and Blake will contend
6. Magdalena Lewy Boulet
Resume: 2008 Olympian, 2:26:22 at Rotterdam (2010) and 2:28:44 at Chicago (2010). PR'd at 10,000 at 2011 USA Championships (31:48.6).
Why she'll make the team: Magda's two marathons at 2:28 and under (during the qualifying period) show great consistency. If she can run in that range, she'll have a shot. Also, being a former Olympian, she knows how to get on the podium.
Why she may not: The field is deep, and Magda will have to beat Flanagan, Davila or Goucher, which will require a strong effort.

7. Deena Kastor
American Record Holder for the marathon (2:19:36 at London, 2006). Bronze Medalist at 2004 Olympics (Athens). American Record Holder in the Half Marathon (67:34 at Berlin, 2006). 2008 Olympian.
Why she'll make the team: Deena is the veteran of the bunch and has been here before. If she's fit, she's a threat.
Why she may may not: Deena ran 69:43 for the half twice in 2010, but hasn't run a decent marathon in a few years, so she'll be a big wild card on 1/14/12.

8. Stephanie Rothstein
Resume: 3rd at Houston 2010 in 2:29:35.
Why she'll make the team: Has run well on the Houston course and is capable of the time needed to make the team.
Why she may not: Rothstein doesn't have the resume that the others here do, so will have to run strong and unintimidated for a shot at the podium.

9. Blake Russell
Resume: 2008 Olympian. 3rd at 2011 USATF 10k Road Championships (54:44).
Why she'll make the team: Russell's been there before and is a strong cross country runner as well, showing the strength she'll need to fight for a spot.
Why she may not: Has run 1:11 in the half during the qualifying period, but hasn't run a qualifying marathon. Will take an A+ effort against this tough field.

Pritz will look to build on NYC success
10. Molly Pritz
Resume: 2:31:52 at NYC (2011). 1st at 2011 USATF 25k Road Championship (1:25:38). 1:11:05 half at New Orleans (2011).
Why she'll make the team: Pritz is coming off a strong debut on the tough NYC course. Has run some races that show she has the talent to compete for a podium spot.
Why she may not: Like Meb, Pritz only has two months to recover, and being that she's recovering from her first marathon, it will take a strong effort, and a quick turnaround, to make the top three.

Stay tuned for continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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