2016 Olympic Trials Marathon preview
With less than 24 hours to go until the start of Saturday’s USA Olympic Trials Marathon, the running world has descended upon sun-soaked Los Angeles. It’s a gathering that happens every four years and thrusts our sport into NBC’s Olympic spotlight. 167 of the fastest marathoners in the US will start tomorrow’s marathon; the top 3 will qualify to the Olympic Games in Rio. It’s a brutal qualifying system that rewards just 3 people for performing their best on the day when it matters most. It’s also a beautiful system, that is uniquely democratic…uniquely, American.
The only thing predictable about tomorrow is that it will be hot – temps at the start are expected to be in the mid-70s and rising to low-80s towards the end of the race. Everything else, file it under unpredictable. And for me, that’s a good thing. I’ve yet to figure out how to run a marathon under 2:12 like some of the guys in the field, but I know how to cobble and piece together races that turn tactical and beat people I’m not supposed to beat on paper. Tomorrow’s race will not be fast and the more compact the race becomes, the greater likelihood something strange will happen. Added to that, I’m a small guy with a high-functioning thermo-regulatory system (thank you Bob and Marilyn Leon, I guess?), who will almost assuredly be less impacted by the heat than other guys in the race. Given that there isn’t a single hill on the course, the only thing that was going to throw a wrench into it being a track race was the weather; I could not have asked for a better forecast.
I’m thankful and fortunate to be healthy as I head to the line tomorrow, which is a pre-race victory in the world of marathoning. I’ve never defined success by a certain place or time and won’t start doing that tomorrow. My attitude heading into this race is no different than any other marathon: run smart and beat as many people as possible; a mindset that has seemingly worked pretty well in the past. This is marathon #14 for me and I have seen just about everything. Tomorrow, I hope that experience pays off.
How to watch / follow along:
Start time: 10:00am (PST) on NBC | 10:06am men’s race start | 10:22am women’s race start
You can also stream the races online or on your mobile device via NBC Sports Live Extra.
Twitter: As always, @cleonrun will be tweeting live, on-course updates from downtown LA.
Thank you to everyone back in Van Wert, Ohio…Athens, Ohio…and Eugene, Oregon…for helping me along this journey. Tomorrow is for you.