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Standards Tightened for USA Men's 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
*Message board thread on the changed standards here

HONOLULU (30-Nov-2007) -- On the heels of a very successful USA Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon in New York City on Nov. 3, the USATF Men's Long Distance Running (LDR) Committee voted today to tighten significantly the qualifying standards for the 2012 Trials.

Under the new scheme approved by delegates today, there will no longer be separate "A" and "B" qualifying standards where "A" qualifiers have their travel, lodging and meal expenses paid by the event, and "B" qualifiers do not.  Instead, athletes achieving any of the following performances in the marathon, half-marathon or 10,000m in a still to be determined qualifying period will simply be labeled "qualifiers," all of whom will have their expenses paid:

 Marathon: 2:19:00
 Half-Marathon: 1:05:00
 10,000m: 28:30

USATF LDR Chairman, Glenn Latimer, said that there was broad support amongst his committee members for the change, designed to reduce significantly the number of qualifiers, making the race more manageable for potential organizers (the venue for the 2012 Trials has not yet been set).  The Trials race held this year had 179 qualifiers (130 starters), 64 of which had met the "A" standard.  Latimer said that that under the new scheme the number would likely be between 65 and 85.

"They voted for, and unanimously supported, the new standards for the 2012 Olympic Trials," Latimer said of his committee.

Under the previous qualifying system, men who had achieved at least a 2:20:00 marathon within the stated qualifying period were designated as "A" qualifiers.  Athletes running 2:20:01 to 2:22:00 in the marathon, or 28:43 for 10,000m, or 13:40 for 5000m, were designated "B" qualifiers.  Under the new program, 5000m times will not be counted towards qualifying for the Trials.

Moreover, a more subtle change to the standards, Latimer said, was the unacceptability of marathon and half-marathon marks achieved on excessively aided courses.  Under the previous scheme, as long as a performance was achieved on a certified course, an athlete's mark was acceptable for qualifying for the Trials.  Latimer said that an approved list of marathon courses was under consideration by his committee.  Most of the courses on that list will be USA record-standard (start-finish separation of 30% of the race distance or less, and an elevation loss of no more than 1 meter per kilometer of race distance).  However, some marathon courses which do not meet the strict terms for records, like Boston or New York City, are likely to be included because they generally do not produce excessively fast times.

"I think it's pretty close now," Latimer said of the state of completion of the list.

Qualifying for the Trials has long been a point of pride amongst USA distance runners, and with the bar raised for 2012, qualifying will become an even greater badge of honor.  Given the resurgance of men's distance running in the USA, many experts felt that it was time to tighten up the Trials qualifying standards.

"I think they lowered the standard to keep Deena out of the Trials," joked Bob Larsen, the Team Running USA California coach referring to American women's marathon record holder, Deena Kastor.  Kastor met the "A" standard for the men's Trials with her 2:19:36 performance at London in 2006.

The Women's LDR Chair, Elizabeth Phillips, said earier in the day that her committee had not yet decided if they should change to a single qualifying standard for 2012, of if they should tighten their current standards of 2:39:00 for "A" qualifiers and 2:47:00 for "B" qualifiers.  Women can also earn a "B" qualifier with a 10,000m performance of 33:00.

*Message board thread on the changed standards here

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