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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…

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Episode 43: Nick Arciniaga, Star Wars, and the Olympic Trials

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Nick Arciniaga at the 2015 NYC Marathon. Photo by Andy Kiss.

In Episode 43 we discuss all things intergalactic with Star Wars freak Nick Arciniaga, who hopes to qualify for the Olympics at the marathon trials in L.A. on February 13. Nick gets us up to speed on his training and racing, tells us which Star Wars character would make the best marathon runner, and has the final word on who shot first at the Mos Eisley cantina. In other gravity defying matters, Gregg ponders whether to Alter-G or not to Alter-G.

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Episode 42: NYC Marathon Race Report

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Mary Keitany plots her move en route to victory in 2:24:25. Photo by Andy Kiss.

Brenn describes his close, but no cigar marathon (3:01:04) at NYC, with a nod to prior guests Uli Fluhme and Angela Ortiz, while Gregg highlights stellar performances by our listeners. Brenn and Gregg look optimistically to next year’s races, making a call for stronger butts and hips.

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2014 New York City Marathon Photo Gallery

Photos by Andy Kiss/Cloud259

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.

Highlights and teasers, 2013 to 2014

As Father Time gives way to Baby New Year, it’s natural to take a look back and forward. One of the general trends we noticed is that at the end of the year, it was a different cast of characters grabbing headlines than at the start.

After an early Diamond League meet, Nick Willis tweeted:

So hard to be on your game through a whole season at the world level. Could be totally different guys going well in Moscow.

— Nick Willis (@nickwillis) June 1, 2013

This actually summed up the year for Willis himself, who struggled with an injury early in the season but dominated late season action in New York City, with convincing victories over quality competition at the 5th Avenue Mile and the Race to the Finish Line 5k.

So here are a few lists to add to the pile of year-end lists, focused primarily though not exclusively on action in the U.S.

Savviest prize money grab 2013

3. Jenny Simpson
2. Stephen Sambu
1. Kim Smith

Kim Smith nabbed the $100,000 for the best cumulative results in the BAA Distance Medley’s 5k, 10k, and half marathon. Given the fat payout, she faced surprisingly thin competition. Smith added $12,500 the hard way, with a 6th at the NYC Marathon. Stephen Sambu won the same BAA Distance Medley prize for men. Jenny Simpson won $25,000 for a single race: the 1500m at the Hy-Vee “Women’s Mile” at Drake Relays. She supplemented that with $30,000 with her silver at the Worlds 1500. Kate Grace gets honorable mention for a 5-day stretch in which she won $5,000 at the US Road Mile Champs in Des Moines and $10,000 for finishing 3rd at Drake.

Best start to the year 2013

3. Lopez Lomong
2. Galen Rupp
1. Hagos Gebrhiwet

Lopez Lomong won the Wanamaker Mile, upsetting defending champ Matt Centrowitz, then set the American indoor 5,000 record. Galen Rupp set the American indoor record in the 3,000. Hagos Gebrhiwet beat Rupp indoors and appeared unbeatable in the early Diamond League meets. The three were unable to build on their early season successes.

Best end to the year 2013

3. Laura Thweatt
2. Nick Willis
1. Molly Huddle

Molly Huddle beat Shalane Flanagan twice late in the year to take the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k and the US National Road Racing Champ 12k races.

Breakthrough races 2013

3. Jason Hartmann 4th at Boston Marathon
2. Cheserek beats Kithuka at NCAAs
1. Sowinski beats Symmonds and Solomon at Millrose

Jason Hartmann had finished 4th at Boston in 2011, but the heat in that race made it seem an outlier. His DNF at NYC in the fall showed how fickle the sport can be.

Likely marathon PRs 2014

3. Tyler McCandless
2. Matt Tegenkamp
1. Shalane Flanagan

Tyler McCandless has set his sights on a sub-2:12 this year. That might seem audacious for a guy with a 2:16:46 PR, but the Steve Jones-coached athlete led for much of the U.S. marathon champs last year at Twin Cities and plans to look for faster courses than the hilly and humid Kauai, Hawaii, where he has won three straight years.

Matt Tegenkamp brought his impressive track and road credentials to the marathon this year and was disappointed with his 2:12:28 debut in Chicago.

Shalane Flanagan‘s track PRs of 14:44 in the 5,000 and 30:22 in the 10,000, as well a her half marathon best of 1:08:31, all point to something a minute or two quicker than her 2:25 marathon best at the 2012 Olympic Trials. She is the best woman marathoner in the U.S., and at one of these races it’s all going to come together for her.

Most dominant wins 2013

3. Nick Willis at 5th Avenue Mile
2. Jenny Simpson at Drake Women’s Mile
1. Shalane Flanagan at US Outdoor Champs 10,000

Best strategic win 2013

3. Efraimson outkicks Baxter at NXN
2. Arciniaga wins US Marathon Champs
1. Bekele beats Farah at Great North Run

In how many races late in the year did a seemingly dropped runner come back to win? Nick Arciniaga fell of the pace several times while nursing a sore achilles, but he stormed back in a dramatic finish to take his first national title. Kinenisa Bekele‘s win stands out because of the larger context. Mo Farah, coming off the 5,000/10,000 double at World’s, looked unbeatable, while Bekele, after losing his dominance on the track, had been written off by many. His whole career now has a promising second act.

Best performance by shoe
1. Adidas Adios Boost

Perhaps it’s just that many of the best marathon runners in the world are signed with Adidas, but that shoe was all over the podium in late season marathons.

Best early season matchups 2014

3. Jenny Simpson versus Shalane Flanagan at US Cross? Neither is confirmed, but Simpson has hinted at it and Shalane won it last year, even though she ran Boston.

2. Mary Cain versus Ajee Wilson versus Iceland’s Mary Cain (Anita Hinrikdottir) at the Millrose Games.

1. Mo Farah versus the field at the London Marathon, which could include Kenenisa Bekele and will likely include the world’s best.

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