Rupp, Cragg win U.S. marathon trials; Goucher just misses Olympic spot
Fourth place is acknowledged as the worst spot to finish in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, where the top three finishers qualify for the Summer Olympics.That would explain former Duluth resident Kara Goucher's tear-filled comments she gave rep...
Fourth place is acknowledged as the worst spot to finish in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, where the top three finishers qualify for the Summer Olympics.
That would explain former Duluth resident Kara Goucher’s tear-filled comments she gave reporters following her fourth-place finish in Saturday’s event in sun-drenched Los Angeles.
Goucher finished in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds to finish behind winner Amy Cragg (2:28:27), Desiree Linden (2:29.00) and Shalane Flanagan (2:29:26), who wilted in the final miles in oppressive temperatures in the 70s in the hottest marathon trials ever.
“I kept asking myself if I was doing all that I could and I was, they were just better,” Goucher said. “It’s a hard pill to swallow, but they were better. Amy Cragg hasn’t had a great year and I kept hoping that she was in over her head. But at 22 (miles) I pretty much knew I was running to protect fourth position, and it sucked.”
Goucher said she intended to wait to make her move, hoping to save enough energy in the heat and allow her rivals to fade. But that move never came.
“I promised that I wouldn’t go on any move until the 20-mile mark,” she said. “Maybe I’ll look back and regret it, but, honestly, I ran out of gas, too.”
Cragg, who finished a heartbreaking and non-qualifying fourth in the 2012 trials, had a lot left in the tank near the finish.
“Looking back on it (the fourth-place finish) was so good for me, it made me more determined than ever,” said the 32-year-old, who made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meters and placed 11th in London.
She and Flanagan, her training partner, dominated much of the race before the favored Flanagan began to struggle. Cragg ran away from her teammate, who was then passed by Linden.
Flanagan collapsed in Cragg’s arms after finishing third and left the race in a wheelchair, but made her fourth Olympic team.
“There were times when I thought ‘I’m done, I can’t do this,’ ” Flanagan said, “But (Cragg) talked me through it, and sweet baby Jesus I am so grateful for her.”
Like Cragg in 2012, Goucher said she hopes to turn the disappointment into an eventual third Olympic appearance by turning her attention to the 10,000.
“I didn’t fight this hard to just fold right now, so I’ll try to make the 10K team,” she said.
Rupp wins in first attempt
Olympian Galen Rupp made his marathon debut in memorable style, racing away from 40-year-old Meb Keflezighi to win the men’s race.
Rupp, the Olympic 10,000 meters silver medalist on the track, pulled past 2012 trials winner Keflezighi in the 23rd mile to triumph in 2:11:12.
“I had a blast out there,” said the 29-year-old Rupp, who now aims to make the U.S. team in the 10,000 meters in July and double at the Rio Games a month later.
“It’s definitely possible. There is plenty of time in between to recover,” said the U.S. 10,000 record holder, who joined steeplechaser George Young in 1968 as the only Americans to win the trials in their first marathon.
The 10,000 meters comes first in Rio with the marathon following eight days later.
Keflezighi became the oldest U.S. runner ever to make an Olympic team as he took second in 2:12:20 to qualify for his fourth Games.
“To come back as a 40-year-old to make it, I have been blessed more than you can ever imagine,” the 2014 Boston Marathon winner said.
Jared Ward claimed the final men’s spot, finishing in 2:13:00.