Friday, January 06, 2012


First off, if you read nothing else today, be sure to check out Runner’s World’s interview with Terrence Mahon. He offers some great insight into next weekend’s races.

Ever since I posted my Trials Preview a few weeks ago, I’ve been meaning to write a prediction segment as well. I thought I could just sit down and hammer out my predictions for the top three in each race. It seems easy enough to pick Hall, Ritz and Meb for the men and Davila, Goucher, and Flanagan for the women. However, things rarely go as planned with marathon training or the race itself, so picking the top-3 is not as easy as it sounds.

I began by narrowing each field to 17-18 runners that I think will be in the mix. Obviously, that’s still too many. Today I’ll try to narrow down the men’s side even further and eventually pick my top 3. In order to do this, I applied a few broad-sweeping exclusions. First, the guys had to run 2:12 or better. While it’s not impossible to go from 2:18 to 2:12, it’s not likely either. Second, I’ve excluded guys that have never run a marathon. That includes names like Galen Rupp, Mo Trafeh, Andrew Carlson, and Patrick Smyth. Obviously, all four of those guys have the talent to make the team, but I think making your debut at the trials puts you at a disadvantage. That leaves me with 8 guys to review below.

Here are the guys that should be in the top-10;

Ed Moran, ran a solid debut (2:11:46) at the 2011 NYC Marathon. But that means the first-timer has to recover, train and taper in just 10 weeks. I think that’s too much to ask.

Nick Archiniaga, has run 2:11:30, 2:11:48 and 2:13:46. I thought about picking him for my top-3, but his recent blog raised a couple of red flags. He talks about just now getting excited and gaining confidence. For me, I’ve run my best when I’m able to build my confidence over a long stretch. Two weeks doesn’t seem long enough to me, but maybe that’s normal for him.

Jason Hartmann, has run 2:11:06 and 2:12:09. I definitely think he has a shot at top-3, but I going to say top-5 is more likely.

Dathan Ritzenhein, at 29 years old, he’s already looking to make his third Olympic team. I’m a big fan of Ritz, but he basically missed all of 2011 due to Achilles surgery and complications. I think that may be too much to overcome. He’s one of the few guys in the field that could also make the team in the 5,000m or 10,000m. If he’s having a bad race he may save himself for the track.

Meb Keflezighi, his qualifying performances are amazing, especially considering he’s 36 years old; 2:09:13, 2:09:15, 2:09:21, 2:09:26 and 2:11:38. Like Moran, he ran at NYC too. I just don’t think that’s enough time to recover. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Meb proved me wrong.

And here’s my podium;

Brett Gotcher, although he’s only run one marathon, his 2:10:36 at the 2010 Houston Marathon was the 4th fastest debut by an American. He ran really well at the TC-10 mile and Archiniaga mentioned sticking with him for 1K repeats until the last one when Gotcher beat him by 13 seconds.

Jason Lehmkuhle, he’s this year’s Brian Sell – someone who gets close at the previous trials, sticks with it for 4 more years and then makes the team. He finished 5th in 2007 and has run 2:12:34, 2:13:40, and 2:14:39 since then. He’s smart, patient, and experienced. Plus, all the reports coming from the river roads are very encouraging.

Ryan Hall, the top three qualifying times and 5 of the top 10. Other than injury, I can’t think of a single scenario where this guy doesn’t make the team.

If you’re interested in reading some other articles, check out a list of underdogs ,11 guys to watch, and 12 runners to watch.

I’d love to hear what everyone else out there thinks. Who are your favorites and your dark horses?

I’ll share my women’s picks soon.

Quote of the Day;

“There are only one or two guys capable of going sub-2:10 [at the Trials]. Ryan and Meb. You have to remember that this isn’t a paced race, and I don’t see anyone running their lights out in the first half. It’s likely to just build slowly, with a 65 or 66 for the first half. From there, you’ve got to come back with at 63 or 64 to run sub-2:10. Not a lot of people can do that… In the Trials, it’s the smart, experienced runner who often nabs the open spot.” – Terrence Mahon


Kurt said...

So what about Rupp? or Mo Trafeh? I think there are so many wild cards in the field. We do not know who is going to run and all the other stuff. If I had to guess here is my top 3 as of now but I am holding out for my final picks next Thursday.
1) Ryan Hall
2)Brent Vaughn
3) Dathan Ritzenein

Chad said...

I'm not picking any first timers, but Mo Trafeh is definitely an intriging pick. I don't think Rupp will run the whole thing.

Interesting pick with Vaughn.