Photo Credit: Victah Sailor
History in Houston
As London prepares to welcome the world on Friday, July 27th, at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, the Houston Marathon Committee looks back six months ago when the Bayou City hosted the country’s finest long-distance runners at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
The first U.S. Olympic Trials of the year, the men’s and women’s marathons featured 300 elite athletes competing for six spots on Team USA. The USOC branded all Olympic Trials events as “The Road to London,” but it was on the streets of Houston where the historical men’s and women’s marathon competitions were contested and an estimated 40,000 spectators witnessed the skill, mental fortitude, and toughness of these amazing athletes.
- Photo Credit: Victah Sailor
On Saturday, January 14th, the men and women raced on the same course simultaneously for the first time in the history of the Olympic Trials Marathon, and the result was two of the fastest races ever as the six men and women who will represent Team USA in London earned their way on to the squad.
Shalane Flanagan set an Olympic Trials record of 2:25:38 in only her second marathon, while Meb Keflezighi earned his third Olympic berth by winning the Trials in a personal best time of 2:09:08. Flanagan led a Trials record five women under 2:30 while Meb led four men under 2:10 for the first time in Trials history.
At the London Olympic Games, the Women’s Marathon will be conducted on August 5th and the Men’s Marathon will be run on August 12th with both races beginning at 11:00 a.m., London time. The course in London will feature an 8-mile loop with numerous turns, which will be familiar for Team USA because the Trials course in Houston was designed to replicate the Olympic course. Houston’s course featured a 2.2 mile loop in downtown Houston that the runners ran once before they ran an 8-mile loop three times that led them from the GRB Convention Center, up Memorial Drive to Shepherd Drive and returning on Allen Parkway. On a sunny, crisp morning, six runners scorched the Houston-course and punched their tickets to London.
Team USA – Men
Keflezighi’s performance (Mammoth Lakes, Calif) came only 69 days after his last marathon, where he also ran athen personal best time of 2:09:13 to place sixth at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon. The 2009 ING New York City Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic silver medalist became the first man to win both the U.S. Olympic Trials and the New York City Marathon in his career. At nearly 37 years old, he is the oldest man to win the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Defending Olympic Trials champion Ryan Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz), who set the American Half Marathon Record in Houston in 2007, led much of the race en route to securing his second Olympic berth. Hall set a torrid pace early, with a projected finish of 2:06 that held up through the half-marathon mark. Wind and leg fatigue slowed Hall’s pace, as he shook his arms out regularly, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from again making the Olympic marathon team as he finished second in 2:09:30.
Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.) turned heads in the lead pack. Entering the Trials with the 14th-fastest qualifying time, Abdi hadn’t run under 2:14 since setting his personal best of 2:08:56 in 2006. Soldiering through a year and a half of injury, Abdirahman finished third in 2:09:47 to clock his fastest marathon since 2006 and make his fourth Olympic Team at age 34.