Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Billions of Spectators, The Greatest American Field Ever Assembled, and Much More: America's Top Coaches (Brad Hudson, Keith Hanson, and Terrence Mahon) Talk About the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials
*If you'd like to download the entire teleconference (1 Hour) right click here
The New York Road Runners hosted a teleconference on Wednesday with coaches Keith Hanson (coach of the Hanson Brooks team with 13 entrants in the Trials including 2:10:47 marathoner Brian Sell), Brad Hudson (coach of 10k Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, Ed Torres, James Carney, and Jason Hartman) and Terrence Mahon (coach of Ryan Hall (2:08:24 Marathon in his debut)). Hanson, Hudson, and Mahon shared their thoughts on the much anticipated men's Olympic Marathon Trials, November 3rd in New York City.
It may only be 2007, but the Olympics are not that far off and there is a lot of buzz surrounding the Trials as evidenced by the number of non running journalists on the call. For some reason, a lot of the journalists were already focused on Beijing, as it seemed a disproportionate number of the questions concerned Beijing and its air quality instead of the actual Olympic Trials which are just a little over two weeks away. Considering that to get to Beijing you have to finish in the top 3 in the Trials, and the Trials will be the greatest collection of American talent ever assembled in one distance race we're going to focus on what the coaches had to say about the Trials instead of Beijing. (Although we will point out that Keith Hanson noted that USOC staffers who have measured the air quality in Beijing said that it is "better than the Los Angeles Olympic air quality")
200,000? Spectators on the Spectator Friendly Loop Course
The Trials in New York have a few changes compared to the past men's marathon Trials. There is the somewhat controversial fall date (the Trials traditionally have always been held in the same calendar year of the Olympics), and the introduction of a spectator friendly loop course (the racers will start outside of Central Park and then do 4 loops within the Park). The fall date (one day before the NYC Marathon) and the loop course both were both designed to bring more spectators to the course.
ING NYC Marathon Director Mary Wittenberg said she expects spectators to pour into the park at totally unprecedented numbers (and what we believe are unbelievable numbers). She said, "We expect to have the course, the five mile loop, full of people. I'm guessing that's a couple hundred thousand people... The buzz in New York is sky high and everybody is eagerly anticipating our top American men coming into the Trials as part of what you've heard me say is the biggest weekend marathon running has ever scene."
Most message boarders like ourselves were surprised by the 200,000 claim, but pointed out even if Mary is off by a factor of 5 and only 40,000 people come out it will make for a raucous atmosphere in the park that the Olympic Marathon Trials have never seen before. (Crowd estimates are very hard to do but organizers for all events seem to give inflated numbers)
Brad Hudson agreed saying, "Having a loop course that is spectator friendly that's in NYC the day before the NYC marathon is what our sport has needed for a very long time."
While some pundits have called the course with small rolling hills in Central Park, challenging and even slow, the coaches liked the course and Keith Hanson pointed out it may not be too slow. He said, "We've seen some faster runs in everything up to the half marathon distance on this course. I think this course can run fairly fast, I wouldn't say it's a fast course, but using different muscles groups with the ups and downs of the hills can sometimes be advantageous in the marathon. I like the course a lot."
Brad Hudson believes the undulating terrain in the park should make things interesting for spectators and runners alike. He said, "There is a lot of action on the course. I think essentially that means there is always change going on, as far as up and down, grades. I think it is going to wear on people. But we've done the best job we can preparing the athletes for Central Park." (More on the course in Clip 3 in the Audio Player including Terrence Mahon talking about how the loop course will let athletes better gauge their effort instead of just looking at mile splits)
Greatest American Field Ever?
Hall, Khannouchi and Meb
Dick Patrick of USAToday asked how the field compared to the Trials fields of the past in the golden era of American marathoning with Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. Keith Hanson said at least up front it is the greatest American field ever, and we agree. Hanson said, "I would go so far as to argue it's the deepest (men's field) ever...I think certainly across (the top) eight or so it's deeper than it's ever been."
The Federation's (USATF) Development of Marathoners "Inept"
What Happened to the Great Track Clubs of the 70s and 80s?
Coaches Talk A Little About Their Athletes
Keeping Ryan Hall in Check
Mahon indicated the plan worked well saying "For us I thought it has really played out well in the fact that is has kept him from being overtrained coming into this race."
Brian Sell and His "170" Mile Weeks
Brad Hudson's Athletes Have Trained "Much, Much, Much Harder" Than in the Past
Hudson indicated that the stallion in his stable Dathan Ritzenhein has not increased his mileage, but has done more longer, harder marathon paced runs this time around than he did for his disappointing marathon debut (where Ritzenhein ran 2:14:01 to finish 11th and received a reported six figure appearance fee) He said Dathan "(did) a lot more specific work, a lot harder long runs, a lot more specific 14-16 mile runs at sub 5 minute pace that he didn't do the first time around because its very difficult to stay healthy your first time..."
Hudson stressed that he coaches each of his athletes individually, but that the preparations for all of them went well. He said, "The athletes trained very differently, but they trained very well, very hard, they're very prepared. That goes for James Carney, Ed Torres, Jason (Hartman) and Dathan."
The Consensus Longshot at the Trials: Jason Lehmkuhle
Carney and Lehmkuhle
But for all of you out there who root, root for the underdog and love the movie Hoosiers, along comes Terrence Mahon to trample your hopes and dreams with a dose of reality. Mahon said do not expect a breakthrough name to book a ticket to Beijing saying, "...there is not going to be a breakthrough in the top 3...I don't think they (the favorites) are going to let anyone go."
Nonetheless it should be an exciting weekend, 2 weeks from now in New York City. 40:02-41:55
Full Audio Interview Plus Excerpted Highlights Below
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