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Editor’s Corner: Olympic Marathon Trials

Does it get any better than that?

I was lucky enough to attend the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials held in Houston last weekend. What an experience! I am an avid running fan, so it felt akin to having 50-yard-line seats to the Super Bowl—except better.

For those of you who aren’t pathologically obsessed with professional running, here’s how the marathon Trials work:

  1. Any female runner who has raced a 2:46 marathon (or 1:15 half marathon) or faster is invited to compete in the Olympic Trials race.
  2. Invited athletes battle it out in the Trials marathon to win a spot on the Olympic team.
  3. The top three women to cross the finish line get an automatic entry to the 2012 London Olympic Marathon.

To say the stakes are high for the women competing is a serious understatement. Many of these athletes have trained for four years to get to the starting line, and all of that hard work comes down to this one race. I imagine that for the athletes this is an insanely nerve-racking. For spectators, it is pure excitement!

The day before the race, I went to the convention center where Women’s Half Marathon had a booth. The start/finish line was directly outside the center’s doors, and I spotted Olympian Jen Rhines doing warm up drills on the straightaway. Let the (running) celebrity sighting continue!

The Trials were scheduled for the day before the Houston Marathon, so the city was filled with runners, and the Olympic-level competition infused the air with electricity. The morning of the race, I headed out to the marathon route. The course included one two-mile loop, followed by three eight-mile loops (perfect for spectators). I ran around from one side of the loop to the other, and was able to see both the women and men half a dozen times throughout the race.

From the big-name athletes to the hometown heroes, everyone was running their hearts out. I yelled at every woman running by, (Go, Shalane!, Go, Kara!, Go, Desi!, Go, Amy!, Go, Stephanie!, Go, Susan!, Go, everyone else!)

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The final three through the line were (in order): Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher (our former cover model!). These women ROCK! Can you tell how moved they were to be Olympic-bound?

I was further amazed to see how quickly the ladies cleaned up for the press conference (less than an hour after the marathon’s finish). Check out Women’s Running representing at 5:10!

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The Trials were incredibly inspiring. I love being a spectator at running events—especially since it always gets me fired up to race myself! After I came home from Houston, I put a May marathon on my own calendar. What inspires you take the race-registration plunge?