In Houston, $500,000 at stake as men, women compete for first time at same venue; same day NBC 2-hour broadcast
HOUSTON - (January 10, 2012) - On Saturday, January 14, more than 300 of America's top distance runners will take to the streets of Houston in an historic edition of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. For the first time, the men's and women's teams will be selected on the same day and on the same course.
"For two years, the Houston Marathon Committee has looked forward to Saturday almost as much as the athletes," said Houston Marathon Committee President Brant Kotch. "Our goal from the start has been to treat them like rock stars, and as they begin to arrive in the next few days both they and the city of Houston will quickly discover that we meant it. Hosting the Trials is a huge honor, and along with the 40th anniversary of the Houston Marathon on Sunday - as well as cheering for our Houston Texans in the playoffs - it will be a momentous sports weekend for the city."
Both the men's and women's Olympic Trials races will start and finish on Saturday morning in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, with the men beginning at 8:00am and the women at 8:15am. The course begins with a 2.2-mile loop through the heart of downtown, after which the athletes will run three 8-mile loops on a spectator-friendly, flat course that is expected to result in fast times.
The top three finishers in each race, subject to the final approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee's board of directors, will represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where the marathon will be run on a similar three-loop course.
Returning to compete in the 2012 Trials are five of the six reigning U.S. Olympians in the marathon: Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein, Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Blake Russell. They will be joined by 2004 marathon team members Meb Keflezighi, Colleen De Reuck and Jen Rhines, and 1996 Olympic marathoner Linda Somers Smith. Keflezighi and Kastor are both 2004 Olympic medalists, with Keflezighi winning silver and Kastor bringing home the bronze in Athens.
On the men's side, Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz.) leads the field with the three fastest qualifying times, topped by his 2:04:58 - the fastest qualifying time in Trials history - from the 2011 Boston Marathon. The next four fastest times, headed by his 2:09:13 from the 2011 ING New York City Marathon, were posted by Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.); Ritzenhein (Portland, Ore.) is third with a 2:10:00 from the Flora London Marathon in 2009.
For the women, Desiree Davila (Rochester Hills, Mich.) sets the pace with her 2011 Boston Marathon time of 2:22:38. Second is Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.) in 2:24:52 from Boston 2011, followed by Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) in 2:26:22 from the 2010 Fortis Rotterdam Marathon.
In total, 158 men and 223 women achieved qualifying times allowing them to compete in the Trials. The oldest man is Mbarak Hussein (Albuquerque, N.M.), 46; the oldest woman is Somers Smith (Arroyo Grande, Calif.). At 50, she has qualified for the Trials a record seven times. The youngest competitors will be Craig Curley (Tucson, Ariz.), 23, and Amanda Marino (Jackson, N.J.), 22.
In addition to a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, athletes will be competing for a prize purse totaling $250,000 in each race, plus bonuses. The men's and women's champion will each take home $50,000.
NBC will broadcast two hours of same-day coverage from 3:00-5:00pm ET. The comprehensive coverage will be the first time that both men's and women's Olympic Trials have been televised on the same day.
Visit www.hmcpresscenter.com or houston2012.com for more information including athlete bios and profiles, Trials trivia, schedule and more.
this article Courtesy of Running USA wire