Final Athlete Roll Call Before the Trials: Meb, Shalane, Ritz, Amy Cragg, Jeff Eggleston, and Scott Smith Talk Everything Olympic Marathon Trials

February 12, 2016

LOS ANGELES –Less than 24 hours before the start of the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials (race coverage starts on NBC at 1 p.m. Eastern), the 2012 champions of the Trials Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan headlined the final group of athletes that addressed the media (Dathan Ritzenhein, #4 seed Jeffrey Eggleston, #3 seed Amy Hastings Cragg, and Scott Smith were also on hand).

The big takeaway? Everyone in attendance claims they are fit and feels they have a chance to make the Olympic team. The warm weather (high of 81 forecasted) that is expected for Saturday was a big topic of discussion, but the athletes seemed less concerned about it than the media members. Nearly all of them said they had done stuff specifically to prepare for it (less so Amy Hastings Cragg and Shalane Flanagan, who have done some runs in Phoenix, Arizona).

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Highlights of what each athlete said below:

(For all the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trails coverage click here.)

Shalane Flanagan “Very Fit” after an “Aggressive” Buildup

Shalane Flanagan had a stress reaction at the start of her Olympic marathon trials buildup. She was in a boot in November for half of her first altitude stint in Flagstaff and then started running and was very “aggressive” in her buildup. She said the second week of running she ran the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon as a tuneup race and three or four weeks into her buildup ran the marathon distance in training.

Shalane’s buildup has gone well. Shend said both she and Amy Hastings Cragg “are very fit.”

When Shalane was asked if she was more focused on going for the win than finishing top three, she pointed out she loves to win, but with the Olympic Marathon Trials the winner gets to celebrate very little. She said she enjoyed her victory over Desi Linden at the 2012 Trials for about “seven seconds” (that is the amount of time she beat Desi by).

Shalane also pointed out she has never tried out for a U.S. team and come up short and she didn’t plan on missing her first team tomorrow.

Shalane and Amy mentioned less about doing specific heat preparation. On racing in the heat, Shalane said, “I wouldn’t classify myself as a great heat runner but I’m not terrible (she did get a medal at the 2008 Olympics at 10,000m in the heat).” (Video of Shalane and Meb below).

Meb: Can’t Do the Workouts He Once Did But Very Motivated to Make His 4th Olympic Team

We had already spoken to Meb for 15 minutes on Wednesday, so we didn’t learn a lot new today, but each time one hears Meb, one is reminded how he is the ultimate professional. Meb admitted he needs two days recovery now instead of one after workouts and that he runs slower in practice than he did in 2004, but that comes with age.

Meb said the most confident he has felt in his career was before the 2004 Olympics (and it was noted he was beaten by Alan Culpepper at the Trials there when the “Big 3” were Meb, Culpepper and Abdi), and he also was very confident before NYC in 2009, but less so before his Boston win or Olympic marathon 4th place finish.

One of the positives of Meb getting older is his daughters can appreciate what he does now. His daughters are 9, 7 and 6 (we think; Meb got their ages wrong at first) and his older daughter at the 15:00 mark said she thinks her dad’s running is “cool.” (click here to jump there).

Meb said he did a lot of indoor treadmill running to get ready for the heat. Meb is trying to make his 4th Olympic team on Saturday (he missed the team in 2008).

More:15 minutes with Meb,

Dathan Ritzenhein Pays Tribute to Ryan Hall

Dathan Ritzenhein is another guy who could make his fourth Olympic team Saturday. (We spoke to Dathan for 12 minutes on Wednesday one-on-one if you want more in depth).

One thing Dathan did today that he didn’t Wednesday was talk about Ryan Hall’s domination of the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. On the big screen at the 2008 Trials in Central Park, when Khalid Khannouchi was moving up near halfway, Ryan Hall saw that and took off, blowing away the field over the last half.

He spoke about Hall taking it out hard in 2012 and was asked if he’d prefer it go out slow this time. Ritz said:

“I’d say of the nine marathon I’ve run, probably six of them I’ve gone out in 62:50-something to 63:50-something. I don’t care if it’s fast. I’ve been there and I’ve hit the wall before doing it and I’ve closed well doing it too. I’m not afraid of going out hard. … That’s part of what the marathon is. You don’t get everything right, but if you’re the one that has the least amount of problems, sometimes you’re the winner. You’ve got to minimize mistakes. … I’ve been in the big city marathons, I’ve been in the Olympic marathons, the Trials and each one you learn something and you have to take something from it. … It gives me a lot more confidence (having done it before) because if you haven’t done it before, you don’t know what to expect on the other side of 20-miles when you’ve gone out that fast.”

Dathan talked about that at the start of the video below:

Jeff Eggleston the Overlooked #4 Seed

Eggleston is the #4 seed coming in but is overlooked currently only #11 in the $200,016 Running Warehouse Marathon Trials Prediction Contest standings.

Eggleston said that doesn’t bother him, his training has gone well. He trains by himself most of the time in Boulder, Colorado.

Scott Smith – The Budweiser Long Shot

Scott Smith is the hottest 2:14 guy at the Trials. His name was mentioned a few times yesterday as someone who could surprise. He came before the media today and confirmed his goal is to make the team, even if that sounds crazy to others. He has trained most of his steps with Hoka One One teammate Matt Llano and said little has separated them in training.

Scott said he realized it likely will take the best race of his life to make the team and for a few other guys to falter.

“I obviously think [I have a chance], but that’s because you almost have to have an inflated view of yourself. Especially someone who’s only ran 2:14. It’s possibly even a bit arrogant of me to think I can make it. … I absolutely know it’s going to take the best race of my life to make the team and it may take some people not having the race of their life … I don’t know. I’ve never been an Olympian, I’ve never ran 2:10, so I don’t know what all this fitness means. I was hoping it means I can be in contention after 20-miles.”

Meb and Shalane

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