June 26, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The men’s and women’s 800s got underway today on day 1 of the track action (the shot put was yesterday at the State Capitol) at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium.
Three quick thoughts on the 800s.
1. Wow: 4-time defending champion Alysia Montaño ran this race 8 months pregnant.
Montaño will give birth to her first child in six weeks but that didn’t stop her from showing up, supporting the sport and running in the race as shown here:
2:32.13 — 24.38 seconds behind anyone else in the field. Race video.
“The biggest thing I know is that labor is going to be way harder than the 800 meters,” said Montaño to Dan O’Brien after the race. “I’m just so happy to be a part of this event.”
Montaño said that she decided about four weeks ago that she wanted to run USAs. She had been thinking about how much she was going to miss running at nationals but realized she had a qualifying time and decided to run. Montaño has been running frequently as part of her pregnancy — her midwife and doctor instructed her that it’s important to try and stay in her normal routine — and said that it’s beneficial for the baby if done properly.
She did talk about the race with her coach, but they didn’t have much of a gameplan other than getting through the first 400 without being lapped. Montano accomplished that, receiving warm applause at the bell and a standing ovation as she finished.
We only wish everyone in the sport was like Alysia – feeling the need to show up at USAs even though it’s a non Worlds/Olympic year.
On the thoughts coming in she said, “I just knew I didn’t want to get lapped … Be the first person to ever get lapped in the 800. But more than anything I wanted to be here, and feeling that fire and desire to be on the track and to race. And what a better avenue than to do it at USA Nationals. I have a qualifying time, am the defending champion, and I feel like I deserve to be here.”
2. The favorites moved through and advanced to the next round as expected.
There were no huge casualties in either the men’s or women’s 800 heats today.
On the men’s side, eight of the top 10 fastest accepted entrants advanced. The top casualty was the Oregon Track Club’s Harun Abda, who had the 7th-best entry time at 1:45.55, a time he ran in May in Puerto Rico. He went out in the painfully slow last heat on the men’s side where guys hit the 400 in 54-55. A heat like that was clearly going to be golden for Robby Andrews, who has a big kick particularly in slow races, and Andrews did a small fist pump after getting the heat win. The only other casualty in the top 10 was #2 seed Tyler Mulder (1:44.34) but he didn’t show up on the start line fourth heat.
On the women’s side, seven of the ten fastest accepted entries advanced with Montaño being one of the three casualties.. The others were blogger extraordinaire Phoebe Wright and Lea Wallace who came in as the sixth and seventh fastest entrants at 2:00.20 and 2:00.30 respectively. However, neither Wright nor Wallace had been running close to that this year as Wright’s seasonal best is just 2:02.32 and Wallace’s 2:03.31.
3. (Since the World Cup is going on) Heat 4 of the women’s 800 was definitely the group of death.
The top three in each of the four heats automatically advanced and then there were four time qualifiers. Well heat 4 for the women included 2014 NCAA 800 champ Laura Roesler, 2014 NCAA 1500 champ Shelby Houlihan, 2013 world championship bronze medallist Brenda Martinez and 2012 US Olympic Trials 4th placer Molly Beckwith Ludlow, who has already broken 2:00 this year.
Something had to give and it was the 1500 runner Houlihan who ended up fourth in this heat, which was very tight between those four up front. In the end, it didn’t matter as they all advanced.
But the tightness of this heat shows what we felt coming in – the women’s 800 final is going to be one of THE events of the championships.
Results appear below for Montano’s heat and for the “Group of Death” . (Please go here to see 800 results).
New Jersey New York Track Club
Rnk: 1 ↑ 1
Rnk: 2 ↓ 1
Rnk: 3 ↑ 3
Rnk: 4 ↔
Rnk: 5 ↔
Rnk: 6 ↑ 1
Bay Area Track Club
Rnk: 7 ↓ 4
Rnk: 8 ↔
Rnk: 1 ↑ 4
Rnk: 2 ↓ 1
Rnk: 3 ↔
Rnk: 4 ↔
Rnk: 6 ↔
Rnk: 7 ↔
Rnk: 5 ↓ 3
Want more 800 info? We’ve got you covered as we interviews a slew of people after the race: 800 Post-Race Reactions: The Athlets Talk About Their Races Post-race reaction from Chanelle Price, Ajee Wilson, Brenda Martinez, Phoebe Wright, Lea Wallace, Laura Roesler, Charles Jock, Cas Loxsom, Robby Andrews, Sam Ellison, and Duane Solomon.