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Olympic dreams

The women’s Olympic marathon is this weekend. The U.S. teams – Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, and Abdi Abdirahman on the men’s side, Shalene Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Desiree Davila on the women’s – will race against the rest of the best runners in the world through the streets of London. The men’s race closes the Games on Aug. 12.

The U.S. will have a hard time medaling in this event, as runners from Kenya and Ethiopia most often monopolize the marathon podium. But there have been exceptional performances, most recently Keflezighi’s silver medal in the marathon in 2004, and Deena Kastor’s bronze at the same games.

Kastor and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the inaugural women’s marathon in LA in 1984, are the only U.S. women to medal in the marathon, ever. Nine male U.S. runners have earned medals in the marathon, including Frank Shorter, who captured two and won gold in 1972.

When I attended the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Texas back in January, the gritty determination of the top competitors moved me. I have a good idea of what it takes to run a marathon, having done a couple of them, and let’s just say that I don’t think there is any comparison between the effort expended by an average runner like me and a world class runner like those who will represent us in London.

If you had a job that required 24 hours of your time and dedication – 365 days a year for the span of your career – that’s what being an Olympic marathoner requires. Runners, in general, are tough – these runners are the toughest. Here’s hoping they complete the Olympic marathon of their dreams.

 

 

Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Houston Olympic Marathon Trials

Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall – their feet barely seem to touch the ground.

 

Flanagan, Davila, Houston pack.

Women’s lead pack in Houston, Flanagan at left, Davila right, Goucher is the taller runner in the back right.

 

2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials

Goucher and Flanagan, artist rendering.

 

 

 

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