Mammoth men to cross pond
Run Olympic marathon
Mammoth Lakes can lay claim to sending two athletes who train here across the pond to compete in London in this summer’s Olympic Games. Marathoners Meb Keflezighi, 36, and Ryan Hall, 29, both of whom train extensively in Mammoth, topped the field of competitors at this weekend’s Olympic Marathon Trials to become two of the three men on the U.S. Marathon Team.
Going into the last four miles of Saturday’s trials in Houston, Texas, Keflezighi made his move. Part of a three-man lead pack to that point, along with Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, 33, Keflezighi put the hammer down and never looked back. The 2004 Olympic Silver medalist opened up a sizable lead on Hall, who more than held his own in second, as Abdirahman worked to fend off a last-minute challenge from Dathan Ritzenhein. A tearful Ritzenhein, fought his way back from a distant fourth position, but couldn’t overtake Abdirahman in the home stretch. In the last mile or so, a spectator handed an American flag to Keflezighi, who waved it to applause and cheers all the way to the finish line.
Keflezighi ran a personal best time of 2:09:08. Just 69 days ago, he ran a then-personal best of 2:09:13, though that was only good enough for sixth place in the New York City Marathon. At 36, Keflezighi is now the oldest man to win the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials; he’ll be 37 when he competes in his third Olympic during the London games. All top three runners finished sub-2:10:00 races, with Hall turning in a 2:09:30, and Abdirahman coming in at 2:09:47. An elated Keflezighi celebrated the win with his wife and daughter at the finish line; his parents were also on hand to witness the win.
Of his fellow U.S. Marathon teammates, Hall quipped to USA Today Sports, “I was watching you guys [Keflezighi and Abdirahman] make the 10K Olympic team when I was in high school. They make me feel young!”
Mammoth’s women, however, had a much harder day of it. Olympic Bronze medalist Deena Kastor, 38, from Mammoth Lakes, was part of a lead group of eight runners through 2/3 of the race. As the group of eight broke apart, however, Kastor found herself fading a bit, and a four-pack of women took over the lead. One of those, Amy Hastings, 27, of Mammoth Lakes, “telescoped” for much of the race, falling back and then surging to rejoin the other three. At one point, she had taken over the lead, but going into the final three miles, had dropped off the pace by more than one minute.
Hastings battled back, but it wasn’t enough to catch the three final Women’s U.S. Marathon Team members, Shalane Flanagan, 30, Desiree Davila, 28, and Kara Goucher, 33. Hastings did, however, come in under the 2:28:00 trials record with a 2:27:17.
Kastor finished in 6th with a 2:30:40.
The race was broadcast on NBC Sports nationally.