The Greatest American Starting Line of 2015 Was in Dallas for the Marathon Relays: Meb, Deena, Leo, Centro, Molly and More

December 13, 2015

The 2015 Dallas Marathon had arguably the greatest collection of American talent on the same starting line in 2015 as Olympic marathon hopefuls Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, Jared Ward, Sam Chelanga, and Luke Puskedra were joined by mid-distance Olympic hopefuls Leo Manzano, Matt Centrowitz, Ryan Hill, Boris Berian, and Robby Andrews.

While everyone shared a starting line, they were running separate races. The marathon runners, with the exception of Hall, were participating in the Duo to Rio Marathon Relay sponsored by AT&T, where they ran a half marathon and were paired with a female American marathon hopeful (Chelanga was paired with Molly Huddle, Puskedra with Annie Bersagel, Ward with Desi Linden and Meb with Becky Wade).

The mid-distance runners and Hall were running the first legs (4.2 miles) of the Pro Relay Challenge, where each runner was on a team representing the pro sports teams in Dallas.

While the racing was secondary to the pros coming together to inspire a city and another generation of runners, their competitive juices did get flowing.

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The most competitive relay was the men’s portion of the Duo to Rio Marathon Relay. The five men’s relay runners pulled away from eventual half marathon champion Gabe Proctor as Chelanga was often leading the surging. Ward got dropped just before six miles, but would battle back and then be helping lead the pack over the final miles. During the final mile, the two veterans Keflezighi and Abdirahman were the ones to crack and fall off as Puskedra, Chelanga, and Ward battled up front.

Chelanga and Ward didn’t go all-out to the zone but they put two seconds on Puskedra and handed off in first after passing halfway in 1:03:47 to Puskedra’s 1:03:49 (the handoff was a little bit past the half-way mark). Abdi hit halfway in 1:04:04 and Meb was last in 1:04:07.

Four of the women — Kastor, Bersagel, Wade and Huddle — quickly packed up and ran together through 20 miles as Linden was content to let them go. The women were running a much more modest six-minute pace through 20 miles when Deena Kastor began to up the ante. Wade was the only one to try and stay with her, but soon Deena was all alone and her team’s second half split was 1:15:42.

Splits: (full race results). Discuss this race in our forum: Dallas Marathon Live Thread: Greatest Starting Line in US This Year?

1) Sam Chelanga 1:03:47
2) Jared Ward 1:03:47
3) Luke Puskedra 1:03:49
4) Abdi Abdirahman 1:04:04
5) Meb Keflezighi 1:04:07

1) Deena Kastor 1:15:42
2) Becky Wade 1:16:31
3) Molly Huddle 1:17:48
4) Annie Bersagel 1:18:21
5) Desi Linden 1:19:47

All Mid-D Guys Plan on Doing World Indoors
In the Pro Relay Challenge, the men — with the exception of Ryan Hall — stayed together throughout, with each of them saying they ran a bit quicker than they expected. The big news to come out of the men’s Pro Relay Challenge was that Leo, Centro, Ryan Hill, and Robby Andrews all said they want to run World Indoors in Portland next year.

Centro, Leo, Robby and Ryan Hill Talk Dallas, Pro Sports, The Mavs, and World Indoors

More important than the racing was what the marathoners said about their preparations for the Olympic Trials. Highlights below:

Abdi, Chelanga and Luke
Abdi is going for his record fifth Olympic team and training with Chelanga, who is making his marathon debut. They both said it is going well. Puskedra said his career has been revived and he was done with the sport a year ago. Puskedra plans on racing in Houston, Abdi was unsure, and Chelanga said he may run the Phoenix Half.

Deena Still Going Strong at 42
Deena Kastor said that even after this year’s Chicago Marathon she did not want to do the Trials, but now is focused in on making the team. Her 43rd birthday is the weekend of the Trials. Will she get a special birthday present?

Ryan Hall Now a Father of 4, Will Still Hope to Find Magic at Trials
Ryan Hall, who had the least competitive run of anyone today, said he still plans to give it a shot at the Trials. He has not figured out his medical problems and said he does a lot of his training on trails now so he doesn’t compare himself to his old 2:04 self. He talked at length about becoming a dad and adopting four kids from Ethiopia and how that has given him a new perspective. We have 30 minutes in total with Ryan and will have more on him this week if you don’t have the time to listen.

Part II

Becky Wade and Jared Ward
Wade is the local Dallas hopeful for the team, having gone to Ursuline Academy. She got to tangle with one of her heroes — Kastor — on the streets of her hometown and will return to Houston for her marathon prep. Ward said he will split his time between Provo, Utah (altitude 4,500 feet), where he is from, and Park City (7,000 feet).

Annie Bersagel’s Race Was Her Longest Run Since Knee Surgery
Bersagel has relocated from Norway to Colorado for her Trials prep. She had a very serious knee surgery this summer and thought her Trials chances might be gone, but now she is back on track. This was the longest run she has done at full weight (not on an anti-gravity treadmill) and she was pleased with how she felt.

Meb, Berian and Huddle were not seen in the media room after the race.

Discuss this race in our forum: Dallas Marathon Live Thread: Greatest Starting Line in US This Year?

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