Team USA: Olympic Trials – The Marathon

Kara Goucher, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

I’m waaaay far behind on my recaps so I’ll keep this relatively short but I will say, going to the Olympic Trials for the Marathon was absolutely amazing.

A little back story, taking it way back…I’ve been a huge fan of the Olympics since I was a little kid.  It’s summer 1988, South Bend, IN, my parents are throwing a party downstairs and so they let me have a TV in my room (This is back when kids didn’t have TVs in their rooms lol or at least we didn’t) so we could watch the opening ceremonies of the Seoul, South Korea games.  I was in heaven and stayed up way past my bedtime watching all the countries walk in – the US is at the end so I couldn’t miss them.

Fast forward a few years and my sisters are lucky enough to go to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, my brother-in-law’s sister played for the US Olympic Softball Team so they went to cheer her on.  I admit, I was super jealous at the time because I would love to go to the Olympics and one day (hopefully LA2024) I’ll get there.

So that being said, when it was announced that the marathon Olympic Trials were being held in LA the day before the LA Marathon I was all over it and couldn’t wait.

Sean & I drove up to LA the morning of the trials super early.  I didn’t want to miss any of the action and there was hardly any traffic so win-win!  We got there so early we had time to go get our packets and look around the expo before heading out to find our spot.

The map that was on-line wasn’t super clear as to where the best spots to watch were.  There was a short 2.2 mile loop to start the race and then the runners would do 4 – 6 mile loops.

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We set up in front of the convention center and watched the runners warm up.  It was fascinating to see them all do their warm-ups and see what they do.  We were lucky enough to have a front row seat to my favorite, Kara Goucher for her entire warm-up.  Unfortunately we were on the side where the sun was coming down so my photos aren’t perfect but you get the idea.

Kara Goucher, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

The race didn’t start until 10am when the men would take off, it was a warm day and you’ve probably heard and read a lot of the stories about how it was the hottest Trials on record, etc. etc. But I have to imagine that Rio is going to be incredibly warm and humid so while it wasn’t ideal, it did give the runners a taste of what’s to come.

From where we were, we couldn’t really see the start (we were on the opposite side of the street) so we waited about 10-12 minutes for the guys to come around after the first short loop, the women would start not long after the guys came through.

Meb, Galen Rupp, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

The first 1/2 hour or so was kind of a wait until the guys came through on their 2nd loop and then things started to pick up as the runners started to separate.

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We had an amazing spot right next the Staples Center as the runners made the turn towards the start/finish so close that if I had my arm out I could have touched some of the runners.

It was most exciting when it came down to the finish.  First up, Galen Rupp, who won his marathon debut – he was in the zone, but as he was finishing you could hear the crowd roaring for the 2nd finisher.

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Meb had grabbed a flag as he finished the last 800 meters and was putting on a show for the specators.  At 40 years old, he had made the Olympic Team, the first to do so at his age.  Lastly in 3rd place came Matt Ward.

Meb, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

About a 1/2 hour after the men finished, it was time for the ladies.  The whole race, until the last lap, Amy Cragg & Shalane Flanagan had been running side by side, in fact from other photos (not ours) there were times when you could barely tell that there were two runners.  They were matched stride for stride and then the heat got to Shalane.

Amy Cragg, Hasty Hastings, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016
We were hearing that Amy kept looking back to check on her, to make sure she was still there, but then came a point when she had to run her own race.  In first place, by a decent margin, was Amy Cragg (@hastyhastings)- who incidentally I had seen in the lead at mile 3 at the Chicago Marathon in 2014.

Next up was Desi, who like Meb was putting on a show for the crowd.  She was waving her arms and asking us to all cheer!  It was pretty cool.

Desi, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

And in the final spot was Shalane, she was super focused and we would later find out because she was pretty much hanging on for dear life to finish.

Shalane Flanagan, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

A few moments later, in a heart-breaking 4th place was Kara.  I know she was incredibly disappointed, who wouldn’t be, but I have to say I’m so proud of her.  With all the injuries and ups and downs she’s had in the last 4 years I think she ran an amazing race.

Kara Goucher, Olympic Trials, Marathon, LA2016

There were so many others who ran this race, men & women who wouldn’t make it to the podium, but gave it their all.  I’m super proud of each and every one of them that crossed that finish line.  Just to have the opportunity to be there had to be amazing! And for us to be there in person, totally made my weekend!  I was so inspired and I can’t wait to see the Olympics in August!

One thought on “Team USA: Olympic Trials – The Marathon”

  1. Jenny!! So awesome that you got see this live! Loved all the pics, especially of Kara’s warm ups! Thanks for sharing!! How cool!!

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