Houston - we have no problem running fast marathons.....!
I think the big news of the weekend was the USA marathon trials which took place in Houston. The Americans have a different system to that in the UK in terms of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon. In their world it’s the first three past the post with the qualifying time who are selected. This works very well in terms of leaving the politics out of the selections and everybody knows what is required of them in order to make the Olympic team. Being Americans they make a big show of it and so it’s a separate race and not combined in a big city marathon. (They run the trials on the Saturday and have the Houston Marathon on the Sunday, but more on that in a minute).
Turns out it was one of the fastest marathon trial races they have ever had with the first four guys going sub 2hrs 10 minutes. The first three across the line and who I will face in the Olympics were, Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman. I think what is even more impressive is that the first 20 guys in the race were all under 2hrs 20min, That really shows the strength in depth in the USA. As well as the US marathon trials, there was also the Houston Marathon on the Sunday as I mentioned. My friend and former teammate at Butler, Ava Hutchinson was running, aiming to get the qualifying time for Ireland. She did not disappoint and smashed the qualifying time, running 2:35.33 and has now hopefully booked her ticket to the Olympics.
This means that Butler University now has two former student athletes running in the Olympics; not bad for a small university in Indianapolis with about 4000 students. A friend of mine joked they should rename the Olympic Games the "Butler Track and Field Alumni Running Festival." Hopefully in March, Vic Mitchell (another former Butler runner) will make it three when she attempts to qualify for her second Olympics for Australia in the 3000m steeplechase. I think I am finally getting the Olympic bug and getting a little bit excited!
On a much sadder note this weekend it was reported that my friend Martin Fagan tested positive for the banned substance EPO. Martin lived in Flagstaff and I ran with him on many occasions up there. I was genuinely in shock when I found out, as I know Martin well and something just didn't seem right. This was confirmed when further news about the test was released and it appears Martin was having a lot of problems in his life. This is absolutely no excuse whatsoever to take drugs and he should never have done so. But he will remain my friend and hopefully he can get himself sorted and apply the passion and commitment he had to running in another aspect of life. The full story can be seen here.
At the weekend I attended the Team PB training day in London and was fortunate to meet some of the runners who will be running the London Marathon and raising money for great causes. I was on hand to help some of the runners who are running their first marathon. However there were some in the room who had done at least five marathons - so they should be the ones giving me advice; I've only done one!! It was a good day and I hope the runners got some useful tips from me, Adidas and Lucozade who were all there as well. Training is going well and I am up to about 100 mile weeks now in preparation for the up-coming races I’m doing.
My first race of the year will be a 10km road race in Holland on Feb 12th, and then the Silverstone Half Marathon after that on March 11th. It's been a while since I have raced, so I’m very much looking forward to getting back to competition in this Olympic year. You'll be able to see any more races I’ve got lined up on my website, so check that out. Keep training hard and it's not long now until the Virgin London Marathon for those of you running! Until next time.
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