Well, since I highlighted some races from this past weekend, I feel I should also give you the results. I pointed out four athletes in particular who were running either the full or half marathon at either Houston or Rock ‘n Roll Arizona, and I would say three of them did well.
Although Shalane Flanagan’s 69:41 debut half marathon (making her the 5th fastest in US history) is getting most of the publicity, I think the best performance of the weekend was Brett Gotcher’s 2:10:35 debut marathon (4th fastest US debut marathon time).
In Arizona, Deena Kastor ran 69:43 to win the half marathon and more importantly show she may be over the hump after over a year of fighting injuries. The men’s race saw Ryan Hall come in 2nd (you know you are good when it’s news that you didn’t win) with a rather lackluster (for him) time of 1:04:08, over a minute behind winner Simon Bairu’s 1:02:47. We probably won’t know if this was just a bump in the road for Hall or if this is a sign of not-so-good things to come until the Boston Marathon in April.
There was some indoor track action of note as well. In New Mexico, Shannon Rowbury won the mile in 4:34. She called this a “rust buster” race, as it was her first competitive race since the 5th Avenue Mile in New York last September. Look for Shannon in an indoor meet in Boston and then back in New Mexico for the USA Indoor Championships later this season.
Also getting some news from New Mexico is Galen Rupp. Much like Hall, Rupp has superstart status so that it’s a big deal if he doesn’t win. In Rupp’s case, it was an 800 meter race (not Rupp’s specialty) and rumor is that he was sick. Rupp went out in 54 for the first lap but could only muster a 60 for the second lap and was beat by Raffi Cotte, 1:54.25 to 1:54.71. Who is Raffi Cotte? He’s apparently a freshman walk-on for the University of New Mexico, who now has a great story to one day tell his grandkids, “one day back in 2010 your grandpa beat this guy named Galen Rupp!”
This is the first big weekend for USA distance running on the roads.
Houston is hosting the Aramco Half Marathon and Marathon on Sunday January 17, 2010. The Half Marathon serves as the USA Championships for the 13.1 mile distance. This is the race that Ryan Hall burst on the scene in 2007 with a 59:43.
The women’s race features Bay Area Olympian Magda Lewy (the defending champion with a 1:11:47 last year). Ready to challenge her, though, (and getting most of the publicity) is Shalane Flanagan. This will be the half marathon debut for Flanagan, who had a tumultous 2009 year. After twice setting the American record for 10,000 meters and capturing the bronze medal in the 10,000 at the Beijing Olympics, Flanagan changed coaches and suffered through a rough 2009 season. Now coached by Jerry Schumacher in Oregon, Flanagan has hinted strongly that she wants to make the jump to the marathon (her mother, Cheryl (Bridges) Treworgy set a then world record in the marathon in 1971 – 2:49:40). Many believe a successful race on Sunday in Houston will be the impetus Flanagan needs to commit to a spring marathon debut in Boston.
In the men’s marathon, Brett Gotcher is making his marathon debut. After placing 3rd in the half marathon last year, Gotcher is jumping up to 26.2, where he will battle two Kenyan runners with sub-2:09 PR’s. Gotcher has Northern California ties, having attended Aptos High School and Stanford University. Remeber, not a lot of people knew who another Stanford alum was at this time three years ago — but everyone knew Ryan Hall’s name after the race three years ago.
And speaking of Hall, he will be in action on January 17, is the Rock ‘n Roll Arizona Half Marathon. In fact, Hall and Mammoth Track Club teammate and fellow Olympian Deena Kastor are both running this half marathon in . Hall and Kastor share one other thing in common – they both hold American records in the half marathon. Hall set his mark with the above mentioned 59:43 in Houston in 2007 and Kastor set her mark with a 1:07:34 in Berlin in 2006.