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Episode 44: Olympic Marathon Trials Predictions

In Episode 44 we share pre-race thoughts from past guests who are running in the Olympic Trials in L.A. on Saturday (and a few who aren’t). When asked who may surprise to the upside, Nick Arciniaga and Tyler McCandless had the same answer. Gregg and Brenn offer their predictions. True to form, Gregg plays it right down the middle while Brenn plays the longshots. On your mark, get set…




Twin Cities Marathon: Tyler Pennel hopes first time’s the charm

Tomorrow’s Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon offers an intriguing twist: the favorite on the men’s side, 26-year-old Tyler Pennel, has never raced the distance before. Pennel boasts the fastest half-marathon PR in the field, with a 1:01:44 at this year’s USA Half-Marathon Championship in Houston. Pennel also ran 1:02:20 at the World Half Marathon Championship in March.

Pennel seems prepared to avoid the classic debutant’s mistake. In an interview on, Tyler said that he’ll “try and stay relaxed and attack the last 10k.” When he says, “every time I move up, I tend to run better,” he echoes a younger Ryan Hall.

Tyler McCandless, who is coached by U.K. marathon record holder Steve Jones and who led during much of last year’s race, is among those likely to mix it up with Pennel. Sergio Reyes, who won Twin Cities in 2010 and finished 4th last year, is the top returning finisher. Sean Quigley has a 2:14:12 marathon PR and won the 2014 U.S. 7-mile championships.

On the women’s side, 2012 champion Jeannette Faber is back, though dealing with plantar fasciitis. She will likely be challenged by Esther Erb, Meghan Peyton, and Brianne Nelson.

The Twin Cities Marathon doubles as the USA Marathon Championship, and though the entrants include only longshots to make the 2016 Olympic Team, a surprising performance or two could change that. At the very least, it is a decent undercard to the upcoming World Marathon Majors in Chicago and New York and offers a glimpse at possible future stars at 26.2. Chilly conditions are forecast.

The races will be broadcast live Sunday on at 9:00 a.m. EDT.

Pick the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon teams

As elite marathoners reboot between their big spring and fall races, it’s time to take a peak into the future. The 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are set for Feb. 13, 2016 in Los Angeles. It’s a wide-open field, and we’ve included some names that haven’t yet given the marathon a go, but a lot can change in a few years. Let us know who you think will make the team. And if you happen to be one of the elites ON the list, yes, you may vote for yourself!

On the Road Again – NYC Half and Gate River Run

The elite running scene shifts from Mondo to asphalt this weekend with two marquee events. Many of America’s best will be either at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Fla. on Saturday, or the NYC Half on Sunday, headlined by internationals Mo Farah and Geoffrey Mutai.

The Gate River Run doubles as the U.S. 15K Championships. Ben True is the defending champ and told us in a recent podcast that he’s fit, but a bit tentative after skipping indoors with a balky hamstring. Expect to see Chris Derrick, coming off X-C victories both at Edinburgh and in the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Boulder, mixing it up with True. Bobby Curtis, who was runner-up to True last year, should also be in the hunt.

Shalane Flanagan, prepping for Boston, is the class of the River Run women’s field, which also features Janet Bawcom, Amy Hastings, and Amy Van Alstine, coming off an upset win over Jenny Simpson at XC Champs at Boulder. Look for Shalane to roll early, in patented fashion, and also hold off the lead men in the “equalizer” competition, which gives the elite women a six-plus minute head start.

At the NYC Half Farah and Mutai, the clear frontrunners, will give us a sneak preview of next month’s London Marathon. Mo won the NYC Half in 2011 and has a PR of 1:00:10 in the distance. Mutai has a 58:58 personal best in the half (on a faster course) and ran 2:03:02 at the wind-enhanced Boston marathon. Mo is the world’s best 10k runner, and Mutai is the world’s best marathoner. We give the edge in this race to Mo, since we think the half marathon is closer to a 10K than a marathon. For Mo to win, he needs to stay close to Mutai and then unleash his superior kick; whereas Mutai would need to work harder to gap Mo and then hold Mo off. We suspect Mutai would gladly trade a loss in NYC for a win in London.

Besides those two, Meb Keflezighi is back in form having just won the U.S. Half Marathon Champs in Houston with a 1:01 in January. Matt Tegenkamp will be making his half marathon debut.

The women’s side is tougher to call. The two best PRs in the field are Hilda Kibet (1:07:59 last year at the Roma-Ostia Half) and Caroline Kilel (1:08:16 at the World Half Marathon Champs in Birmingham, U.K. in 2009). There are at nine women just behind them with 1:09 or 1:10 PRs, including Desiree Linden (formerly Davila). Molly Huddle, the American record holder in the 5,000 meters, is making her half marathon debut, as is Sally Kipyego who won silver in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics. Huddle showed great form at the end of 2013 and recently ran a 15:13 5,000m indoors.

Among runners we’ve interviewed in our podcast, True, Nick Arciniaga, Jeannette Faber, and Tyler McCandless are racing in Jacksonville, while Reid Coolsaet, Jeffrey Eggleston, Jason Hartman, and Lisa Stublic are in the Big Apple.

Team USA Marathon Women: The Silver Medal That Wasn’t

ImageIt’s too bad that the IAAF eliminated the team competition known as the World Marathon Cup prior to this year’s World Championships. If it hadn’t, the gutty performances in the heat by Deena Kastor, Dot McMahan and Jennette Faber would have netted the Team USA threesome silver medals.

In mid-80s temps, unyielding sunlight, and high humidity, that all three American women stayed in the race is notable in itself. Out of the 69 runners who started at 2 p.m. local time Saturday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, a third (23) didn’t make it to the finish. The list of DNFs includes two Olympic gold medalists in Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelena and Japan’s Mizuki Naguchi, and other top runners such as Ethiopia’s Meseret Hailu and Meselech Melkamu and Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer.

But the three Americans not only survived, they passed runners throughout. At the 10K mark, Kastor was in 13th place, McMahan 50th and Faber 51st. Just before halfway they were 16th, 30th and 35th, respectively. They finished 9th, 18th and 21st.

[You can read transcripts of our pre-Moscow interviews with McMahan and Faber in which they discuss their goals heading into the race]

The World Marathon Cup, which was in existence from 1985 through the last World Champs in Daegu in 2011, was awarded to the team with the lowest combined time among the race’s top three finishers.  The U.S. has only one medal ever, a silver in the women’s marathon way back in 1989 in Milan.  The U.S. men were shut out of team medals in all 14 competitions they entered.

Below is how the team totals for 2013 would have looked, had the World Marathon Cup had been calculated. Note that neither Kenya nor Ethiopia figured in the final tally since Kenya had only two finishers and Ethiopia just one.

North Korea – 7:53:39

USA – 8:00:07

Lithuania – 8:06:27

Russia – 8:09:19

China – 8:16:14

Austria – 8:38:40

Episode 10: Jeannette Faber and the US Track Champs


Jeannette Faber, owner of 13 consecutive marathon PRs, will be representing the U.S. at the World Championships in Moscow this summer. Faber, our interview guest in Episode 10, describes her progression from a 3:28 marathoner to a member of the US national team. We discuss Jeannette’s races, her training, and her work/run balance, and she offers us a gem of a tip for breaking three hours in the marathon (or for achieving any specific marathon goal). Elsewhere in the episode, we critique the recently completed U.S. Track Championships. Brenn breaks down performances by sponsor, with an eye to Nike’s gender-skewed dominance. We visit the library to unwind an SI article on Leo Manzano that is based on a faulty premise, and Gregg gets on the soapbox to offer an alternative to the arcane system of standards used to select the runners that will represent us at Worlds.


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