Races — Keflezighi Looks Ready for Olympics at Rock N Roll San Diego 2012

running-advice-bugSAN DIEGO – (June 3, 2012) – The 15th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego event on Sunday morning was a star-studded affair. Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, appears ready for the upcoming London Olympic Games. The 37-year-old ran smoothly and effortlessly on Sunday, winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego ½ Marathon in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 11 seconds, his second consecutive victory in his hometown. Ryan Hall, 29, the U.S. record-holder for the half-marathon at 59:43, struggled because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and finished a distant second in 1:05:39.

Meb Ran Away with the RNR Half Marathon (Photo: Competitor Group)

The women’s half-marathon was won by New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith in 1:08:37, a time that would have placed her seventh among the men.

Nixon Machichim of Kenya broke away with a little over two miles remaining and won the men’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in 2:10:03. Russia’s Alevtina Ivanova also made a late burst and won the women’s marathon in 2:27:44. The men’s and women’s marathon champions each earned $25,000.

More than 30,000 entrants from all 50 states and 40 countries were greeted with ideal running weather on Sunday morning. The men’s half-marathon was the keynote event, expected to be a tense duel between the two Olympians. But after about a mile, it was no contest. Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, pulled away and the suffering Hall could not keep up.

“I wanted to go out early because I know how the race will be in London,” Keflezighi said. “I tried to duplicate what it will be like there.” The San Diego course is similar to London in that it has several turns and downhills. “This was not a do-or-die race, but I’m a competitor,” Keflezighi said. “I’m not a guy who likes to sit back and waits to kick in the last mile.”
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Racing — Coach Joe’s Notes to the Olympic Marathon Trials Athletes

running-advice-bugI’m not Facebook friends with all of the athletes that figured prominently in this past weekend’s 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, but if I were I’m sure each of them would have posted something on their wall about their performances. I would have then perhaps taken a moment to comment on their performances. Not just a “good job” but a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I watched the race. So today, here are my comments to some of the standouts at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Dear Ryan — Ryan, oh Ryan. We love you brother. You are our fastest marathon runner. In fact, you were minutes faster than any American runner last year and you’re sitting on something like a four minute gap over everyone else in between your PR and theirs. We get it that you don’t like to “run in back”, but you seem to keep doing the same thing over again. You get out in front and lead the race from the start and then don’t quite have it at the end. Here’s all I’m saying: when you’re sitting on like a four minute differential in your PR over everyone else in the race, maybe let the other guys lead and save it for the last two miles. Then bust out that great speed and take it home. Granted, things will be different at the Olympics where there will be much faster people in the field. But you are a great talent and still young. You can race to make the difference between first and second.

Dear Shalane — Shalane, the people of Portland are really proud of you. You were facing the probably the toughest competition ever in a US Olympic Trials and you were far from the most experienced runner in the bunch. A lot of people were thinking that experience would trump the young speed in the field. I wasn’t one of those people. I knew it was going to come down to the new faces. I admit that I had picked Desi to take the win, but I would have put money on you to win, place or show. You looked great out there. Your form is picture perfect. With more experience at the marathon distance you are going to be unstoppable. Nice work!

Dear Meb— Meb, I met your dad once. Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan. You were such an inspirational American story before this win, but this just really tops it. Now you can add “comeback” to the resume. You looked so strong out there in the last miles. When other people were falling apart, you had it. You looked great on the hills in New York the last couple of outings as well. Despite Ryan’s speed, you really are the strongest American marathon runner right now. What you have is the combination of strength and strategic thinking that it takes to win. You’ve shown that you can perform on tough, hilly courses like New York and Athens with international competition. The question is how will you do in London? Thrilling I’m sure!
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Olympics — Keflezighi, Flanagan Win 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials

running-advice-bugRyan Hall led much of the US Olympic Marathon Trials today in Houston, but it was Athens silver medalist Meb Keflezighi that took the win and the first position on the US Men’s Olympic Team. Keflezighi finished the close race in an unofficial time of 2:09:08, which would be a new personal best for him.

The other two members of the Men’s US Olympic Marathon team headed for London would be Ryan Hall who finished in 2:09:13 and Abdi Abdirahman in 2:09:47. Portland’s Dathan Ritzenhein came in fourth in a personal best 2:09:55. The top four finishers came in within one minute of each other. This will be one of the strongest US Olmypic Marathon teams in a long time, based on the amount of Olypmic experience represented by Keflezighi, Hall and Abdirhman collectively.

In the women’s trials, Shalane Flanagan takes it in 2:25:38, which will be a new personal best for her. Desiree Davila is second in 2:25:55 and Kara Goucher finishes third in 2:26:06. Amy Hastings is fourth in 2:27:17. The previous Olympic Trials record was Colleen De Reuck’s 2:28:25 finish from the 2004 Trials, so all four of the first women were faster than the old Trials record.

The race will be televised later today on NBC stations nationwide at 3:00PM Eastern Time. Check your local listings for exact times.

Talent on Display
The full strength of US Marathon running was on display here in Houston today. Among the favorites were some of the favorites runners in the world among both men and women. When we look at both the winners and the runner’s up, we see Boston marathon front-runners, Olympians and New York City Marathon champions among them. It was an impressive list of runners who had been intent on securing one of the spots to compete for the US in the marathon later this year in London.

Looking at the men first, winner Meb Keflezigihi had faltered a few years back, but has now returned to his earlier greatness. After winning silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he didn’t make the team for Beijing. But over the past few years, he won the very touch New York City Marathon in 2009 and then ran a personal best there in 2011, a time that he would beat in today’s Trials by just a few seconds. Many people will be happy with Meb’s victory today, because as they say, “he’s got fans.”

Ryan Hall on paper would have been expected to win this race if we only looked at his personal best times. In terms of raw speed, he’s the fastest US marathoner in history. But his performances have been a little up and down the last couple of years. He tends to start races very hard, telling people before the race today that he “doesn’t like to run in back.” But since going “coachless” he hasn’t found his success from earlier in his racing days. Hall’s most recent stand-out performance was his 2:04:58 in the crazy-fast Boston Marathon of 2011. In Chicago later last year, he ran 2:08:04 showing his inconsistency at the moment. He’s got the speed and he’s still young at only 30 years old.

On the women’s side, everyone had been looking to Deena Kastor to win another Trials after her win in the 2008 Trials. But the young guns were coming after her. With the likes of Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher in the race, not all of the favorites were going to make the team. Desiree had run an outstanding 2:22:38 in Boston in 2011 and she was my pre-race pick to win, having run such a strong time this past April. But Kara Goucher was sitting on a 2:24:54 PR and Deena Kastor still held an astonishing 2:19:36 PR from back in 2006, meaning she could have had the speed in the tank to win.

Shalane was one of several Portland runners in the race, joined by Dathan Ritzenhein and Kara Gouchers among others. She is wicked fast, having been a major contender at the 10,000M distance and winning the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 10K. She’s raced primarily at the shorter distances and half-marathons, running the fastest time by an American in 2011 at the Miami Beach Half Marathon in 1:09:58. Her marathon debut at NYC in 2010 was a 2:28:40 which earned her second place that year.

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Races — Chicago Marathon Looks to be one of Year’s Fastest

running-advice-bugCHICAGO — The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming this weekend and will include an impressive elite field —including several national record holders—who will match strides against Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova, America’s Ryan Hall, and Kenya’s Moses Mosop on the flat and fast streets of Chicago on October 9.

With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games less than a year away, the 34th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon continues to shape up as a pivotal world-class competition for athletes vying for Olympic team berths. This includes an exclusive opportunity for American wheelchair racers to compete for four (top two men and women) automatic qualifying spots for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team.

“This year’s elite field is one of the most internationally diverse and talented that we have ever hosted at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, with the top athletes in the world hailing from six continents—North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia”, said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski.

Bidding for her third straight Bank of America Chicago Marathon title, Shobukhova, the Russian record holder in the marathon, will face perhaps her fiercest competition from Kayoko Fukushi, the Japanese recorder holder in the 3,000 meters (8:44.40), 5,000 meters (14:53.22) and halfmarathon (1:07:26), who will be looking to add the national marathon record to her impressive list of accomplishments. Fukushi, a two-time Olympian, struggled in her highly anticipated marathon debut at Osaka in 2008, but aims to fulfill her marathon promise in her second attempt at the distance.
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Races — Ryan Hall to Run Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half-marathon 2011

running-advice-bugVirginia Beach, VA –– U.S. Half Marathon record holder Ryan Hall has confirmed that he will be racing in the eleventh edition of the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, September 4. And after nine straight years of Kenyan domination, an American will toe the start line as the favorite to become the event’s first U.S. champion.

“I’m looking forward to my first Rock ‘n’ Roll event of the year in Virginia Beach,” said Hall, America’s fastest distance runner, who has spent the past month training in Europe. “It will be nice to head back to the U.S. and run on home soil after the summer season as I continue to prepare for the Olympic Marathon Trials. I’m sure there will be some great competition and I’m looking forward to a good solid race on Labor Day Weekend.”

Throughout its history, the Virginia Beach event has produced some great champions including Paul Tergat and Martin Lel. If Hall was to follow in their footsteps he would have to break the stranglehold of African domination at the race; nine of the ten races to date have seen the champion hail from Kenya aside from year one, which was won by Shadrack Hoff of South Africa.

The soundtrack of the weekend will be provided by a star-studded Verizon Wireless American Music Festival lineup featuring the Stone Temple Pilots, ZZ Top and Bret Michaels headlining the Labor Day Weekend extravaganza.
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News — Ryan Hall Leads Americans in Rock N Roll Philadelphia Field

running-advice-bugThe event may have a new name, but its legendary pedigree lives on as defending champion Ryan Hall of the USA looks to repeat last year’s 1:01:52 victory at the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday, September 19th.

Known as the Philadelphia Distance Run for 32 years, the legacy of the historic road race includes five World and three American records. Last year Ryan Hall, the American record holder at the half-marathon (59:43, Houston 2007), became the first American-born runner to win in Philadelphia since Mark Curp turned the trick in 1986. This year Hall will use the race as his final tune up for an assault on the American marathon record (2:05:38, Khalid Khannouchi, London 2002) at the Oct. 10 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

“I am very excited to return to Philadelphia to run in the ING Rock n Roll Half Marathon,” said Hall, who won last year’s race by four seconds over Kenya’s Samuel Ndereba. “Now that I have met Rocky, run the lightning fast course, heard the bands, and experienced the energy on the streets of Philadelphia, I am even more eager to compete in this great race.”

Hall will be joined by fellow Stanford grad Brett Gotcher, the 2009 USA 20K champion. Gotcher, who competes for McMillan Elite out of Flagstaff, Arizona, represented the U.S. last year at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championship, and this January ran 2:10:36 to finish seventh at the Houston Marathon. It was the fourth fastest marathon debut ever by aU.S. runner.
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Racing — Hall, Koll take USA 7 Mile Championships

running-advice-bugDAVENPORT – As midsummer thunderstorms blew through the Quad Cities, 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon champion Ryan Hall (Big Bear Lake, Calif.) stormed past early race leader Antonio Vega (Minneapolis, Minn.) at five miles to take the men’s title at the USA 7 Mile Championships, running 32:55. In her professional road racing debut, Lisa Koll (Ames, Iowa) easily took the women’s title in 37:52. The championships were hosted Saturday for the second consecutive year by the Quad-City Times Bix 7.

After passing the first mile in 5:04, Vega, Scott Bauhs (Chico, Calif.) and James Carney (Boulder, Colo.), separated from the pack that included Hall, Ed Moran (Williamsburg, Va.) and Sean Quigley (Philadelphia, Pa.). As the leading trio approached the turnaround point, Vega held a small lead over Bauhs.

Shortly before four miles, Vega began to pull away from Bauhs and looked to be on his way to his second USA title of the year but Hall, Moran and Quigley were working together to pass Carney and were closing in on Bauhs.

Shortly after passing five miles in 23:42, Vega was caught and passed by Hall, who quickly opened a five meter gap. From there, Hall cruised down the Brady street hill for his first U.S. title since the 2008 Olympic Trials. Moran and Quigley also overtook Vega to finish second and third in 33:00 and 33:05 respectively. Vega held on for fourth in 33:08, while Carney took fifth in 33:21.

In the women’s race, local favorite Koll, became the first woman from Iowa to win the Bix 7 since 1981 as she cruised to a decisive win for her first U.S. road title. Amy Hastings (Flagstaff, Ariz.) took the runner-up position in 38:33 with Andrea Walkonen taking third in 38:43. Rounding out the top-five were Blake Russell (Pacific Grove, Calif.) and Lindsay Allen (Flagstaff, Ariz.) in 39:23 and 39:57.

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Racing — Past Champions Merga, Kosegi Among Boston Contenders

running-advice-bugBOSTON — The organizers of the Boston Marathon have announced the international elite field for the 2010 Marathon. 2009 Boston Marathon champions Deriba Merga of Ethiopia and Salina Kosgei of Kenya will return to defend their titles for the 114th running of the race on April 19.

Among other returning champions Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, Dire Tune of Ethiopia, and Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia will also be contending for the title. Organizers announced separately back in December that Americans Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi will lead the American contingent at the event.

In the 2009 men’s race, Deriba Merga of Ethiopia clipped Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot’s three-in-a-row streak and ran away from the lead pack in the Newton hills, unchallenged to the finish. Merga is just one of three Ethiopians to interrupt Kenyan dominance of the event over the past two decades.
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Races — Kastor wins Rock N Roll Arizona Half Marathon, Hall second in men’s race

running-advice-bugPHOENIX — American record holder and Olympic Bronze medalist Deena Kastor returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in ten months today at the seventh annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon. Kastor set a new Arizona state record with a time of 1:09:43, ending the longest dry spell of her now-legendary career.

Kastor wins Rock N Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2010

“This race solidifies that my training has been going well,” said Kastor, after her victory that smashed the 15-year-old state record of 1:13:39 set by Marie Boyd in Tucson. “Running sub 1:10 off this training makes me excited about my next phase going into the London Marathon in April. Today was the first time in a couple of years I felt like my old self running again.”

Kastor, who broke her foot during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon and spent most of 2009 recovering, ran an aggressive first mile in 4:54 and was on American record pace through four miles before a stubborn headwind and lack of competition slowed her in the second half. Reigning American marathon champion Ilsa Paulson of New York City finished a disappointing second in 1:17:04, well off her 1:13:20 personal best.

“I knew it could go only two ways, really good or really bad,” said Paulson. “I’ve been doing a lot of miles for many months, but the speed is just not there yet, it’s the last thing to come. I felt like I could run a 5:45 pace forever, but when I had to try to run a 5:20 pace to stick with Deena for the first two miles it just fried my legs.”
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Races — Hall, Kastor set to race Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon

running-advice-bugPHOENIX — Two of the biggest names in U.S. distance running will take to the roads in the “Valley of the Sun” for the seventh P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon. Olympians Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall will make their 2010 racing debuts in the half-marathon where they each hold the U.S. record for the 13.1-mile distance.

This dynamic duo will lead a top international field, featuring seven past champions from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and more than 32,000 runners participating in the largest same day marathon and half-marathon in the United States.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to compete in the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half-marathon for my first time,” said Hall, who set the U.S. record in 2007 when he won the USA Half-Marathon Championship at Houston in 59 minutes, 43 seconds, becoming the first and only American to ever break the one-hour barrier on a record standard course, while bettering the previous U.S. record that had stood for 21 years.

“I have always wanted to run the event ever since Haile broke the world record for the half-marathon there,” he added, referring to the 2006 stellar performance of distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, who set a then-world 1/2-marathon record (58:55) on the back half of the marathon course.
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