What an amazing day in Houston today. Just electric in the streets and you can feel the spirit of the Olympic Games. Today was a great day for American running. Whenever you line up on the start line of a marathon with three spots open for an olympic seat, the intensity will always be heightened and it sure was the case today on both the Men’s and Women’s side. The Men started at 8am and the Women started 15 minutes later.
LONDON CALLING for the Men. When the gun went off Ryan Hall took the pack out in a blistering pace and pretty much left the pretenders in the dust. The only runners who were able to sustain the pace were Meb, Abdi, and Ritzenheim. That pretty much was the race for the 3 loops of 8 miles. Around mile 18 Ritz appeared to be running out of gas and fell back about 30 seconds and Hall, Meb and Abdi went back and forth taking the lead. At one point Abdi was in the lead and was giving high fives to the fans and throwing his arms up to get the crowd louder. He obviously was feeling great and pumped but that surely did make him pay as he seriously started to drop off the lead pack at mile 22 and was crumbling at the seams. So much it appeared Ritz had a chance of catching him. It was close, Ritz ran out of ground and Abdi crossed the line and Ritz knelt to his knees and bursted out in tears. It was a heartbreaking scene. Rewinding back to mile 24 Meb and Hall were head to head but Hall ran out gas and looked heavy and Meb took him hard and finished to a first place victory. Meb was amazing today. Having come off the NYC Marathon just 2 months ago and then battled the foot infection and came out here today like he was rested for months is insane. It was great to see Meb representing The New York Athletic Club. Now the question remains whether Ryan Hall will return to altitude training. He recently left his training in Mammoth Lakes, Ca to train in Redding, Ca at only an altitude of 480 feet compared to his old training site in Mammoth at 10,000 feet. I expect Hall to come strong in London and beat out both Meb and Abdi. Another note, good to see the Pac 10 represented in the top three. Meb-UCLA, Hall-Stanford and Abdi-Arizona. Also, it was the first time the top three finishers came in under 2:10. A great day for American marathon running. Off to London they go.
The Women had a great day as well. For a good majority of the race through mile 20 it was a race between Desiree Davila, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Amy Hastings. But at Mile 20 Amy Hastings fell back and couldn’t hold on and it became a battle of first place between Desi and Shalane with Goucher trailing them. But Shalane was too strong and her track skills helped her put the final push and pace hard to the end and edged out Davila for the win. Shalane was amazing today. Only her second marathon after a great debut in New York in 2010. After she ran New York she said it was a piece of cake. Usually the next marathon can give you a reality check but she is clearly made of stone. London will be great to see what she can deliver. Expect great things from Shalane after London in her young career. Davila put in a great effort and did a great job at pushing the pace early in the race and setting the tone for the day. It was pretty great when they crossed the line with all of them in tears. A truly great day for the Women in Houston. On another note, Deena Kastor came in 6th place and at 38 appears to be done. She had a great run and I am proud she represented the United States well in her career.
LONDON HERE THEY COME!!!!