Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Move Over Tim Tebow: Trials Marathon Predictions OR Whatever, Galen Rupp.

Ryan Hall, the favorite
While many of my Tebow-infected, Colorado brethren are anxiously awaiting Saturday nights playoff game between the Broncos and the New England Patriots, this guy is ready for the highlight of the day......... wait for it ........ the Olympic Marathon Trials. While football games are a dime a dozen, every four years the best American distance runners vie for three tickets to the Summer Olympic Games, this year in London.

The Men's race for the Olympic Marathon Trials Saturday took a major step backwards when Galen Rupp withdrew from the competition. Rupp, a 25 year old from Oregon and the American record holder at 10,000 meters was to be running his first marathon. 

Frankly, I'm extremely disappointed for several reasons: 1) the race has become VERY predictable now as Rupp could have been a very interesting wild card, possibly even chasing Ryan Hall if he had a good day 2) It is time to make the move. In the olden days runners moved up to the marathon in their very late twenties. Today, many Kenyans and Ethiopians enter as young as twenty-one or two. Fresh off his amazing 26:48 10K, Rupp was primed to move up. Unfortunately for American Olympic hopes, we can wait another four years when he won't be as fast. and 3) I was really looking forward to it (and this IS about me, you know)!

So, my tainted prediction for the Men's race becomes simple: Ryan Hall wins by as much as he wants, followed by the only two other world class marathon runners we have, Meb Keflezighi and Dathan Ritzenhein. Meb's been injured, Ritz is endlessly injured and so both are tenuous at best. Hall's worst marathon performance is still better than most of the other "players." The problem is that after them, there is little upon which to hang your hat. Each Trials seems to have a surprise, but this time I don't see it. Maybe Mo Trafeh, Brett Gotcher, Nick Arciniaga, or Jason Hartman could have great days. Anyone else would be a BIG surprise.

The Women's side is much more interesting with a host of viable placers and potential medalists in London. The top of the field is Desiree Davila and Shalane Flanagan (given alphabetically, because while I know these two ladies will be the top two, I'm not sure the final order). Both are very tough, like to win and have the ability to do so. Davila has the faster marathon time and a bit more experience. Flanagan has the fact that she is Shalane Flanagan and that makes her hard to beat in this country.

Amy Hastings at the Bolder Boulder
After the top two, it gets absolutely fascinating. I believe that as many as SIX women could compete for the coveted third spot. Kara Goucher would seem to have an inside track due to her times over the past couple of years. To buy that, however, you have to discount the comeback skills of Deena Kastor (one of the two greatest female American marathoners of all time), the experience and racing savy of Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and Jen Rhines and the rising stars of Amy Hastings and Stephanie Rothstein. And the best part of this competitive scenario is that any of these women would be a great addition to one of the most competitive Olympic Marathon teams in American history.

Okay, so quit stalling. On to the predictions:

Men's Race:  1) Ryan Hall  2) Dathan Ritzenhein 3) Meb Keflezighi 4) Brett Gothcher
Women's Race: 1) Shalane Flanagan and Desi Davila tie ala Frank Shorter and Kenny Moore circa 1972 (yeah, right!) 3) Kara Goucher 4) Magda with Amy Hastings closing fast.

As a passing note, coverage for the Olympic Trails will be tape delayed and two hours long on NBC. REALLY, NBC? You are supposed to be the Olympic network. Surely you can do better than this. And if that's not bad enough, there is no live streaming video during the race. NBC has shown once again that they really don't care about anything but the cutsie-ass human interest part of the Olympics, and of course football. Having said that, with there being well over 50 million runners in this country, we are the poorest lobby for our sport. If we shouted, NBC would have to listen.

Fortunately, for NBC, we are not shouters, we are runners. Instead of protesting Saturday morning, we'll be sneaking in a run before the mediocre coverage begins.

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