The data has been analyzed, the numbers have been crunched and the really big hunches have been taken into account. Below is our final list of runners who we at Big River Running Company think have the best shots to make the Olympic Marathon Team on January 14th at the US Olympic Trials in Houston, Texas. These rankings do not necessarily reflect who we think will place First through 15th. Rather, they are listed by their odds to make the team. Enjoy!
Men | Women
Read our original list from this summer
Mens rankings written December 23,2011
1) Ryan Hall – Odds 1/5
He's that good. Not only is he that good, he's that consistent. Check this out; Hall has run nine marathons in his career and his worst finish ever was tenth place at the Olympic Games. He ran 2:12:33 that day in extremely hot and humid conditions. Put that performance behind anyone else's name on this list besides Meb Keflezeghi and Dathan Ritzenhein and it would be by far their best marathon ever. His three best marathons are probably his 2:09:02 dominating win at the last Olympic Trials, his 2:06:17 from London in 2008 and his 2:04:58 from Boston earlier this year. No one on this list has a performance that was in the same league as those three efforts from a physiological point-of-view including Meb's Silver Medal run in Athens or his NYC victory in 2009. Right or wrong people's expectations are so high for Hall that there was quite a bit of disappointment when he "only" ran 2:08:04 for fifth place at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this fall. If he "only" runs 2:08 this time he may win by a minute.
2) Meb Keflezighi – Odds 2/1
Meb, who will be 36 at the Trials, had us worried when he signed on to run the ING New York City Marathon just ten weeks before the Trials. In the end, his sixth-place performance there in a personal best 2:09:15 may have actually strengthened his chances to make the team in our minds. Meb hung with the best in the world for 20 miles through a suicidal pace on the difficult New York City course. If his recovery went well and he was able to resume training with no setbacks the Trials race should be easier physically than what he faced in New York.
3) Galen Rupp – Odds 3/1
The man who has probably been the most consistent runner in U.S. distance running over the last few years surprised a lot of people when he signed up for the Trials at the last minute. As of right now he says he has not made up his mind if he will run or not but if he does we really like his chances. There are no guarantees in a debut marathon but imagine he were running London or Chicago. He would likely be shooting for a time in the 2:06 - 2:07 range and that might be on the conservative side. A 2:09 at one of those races would likely be a major disappointment for someone who has run 26:48 and 1:00:30. A 2:09 at the Trials will make the team. The bottom line for Rupp is that we just cannot envision a pace that is going to drop this guy. In fact, while we have his odds to make the team at 3/1 that's only because it's his debut and he could come up with fuel issues or some cramping. If he finishes we would not be at all surprised if he wins.
4) Dathan Ritzenhein – Odds 4/1
Ritz has only raced twice in 2011 and both efforts were low-key 5k road races just to shake off the rust after yet another long battle with injuries. In fact, though his move to Alberto Salazar in the summer of 2009 seemed to pay off initially with big PR's over 5k, 10k and the half marathon much of the rest of their time together has been met with setbacks and disappointments. That is in no way a shot at Salazar, more so it just re-iterates what a lot of pundits have come to know about Ritz -- he's fragile or at the very least extremely unlucky. It's hard not to pull for the guy to make the team after all the adversity and it would be unwise to count him out. The bottom line is that if he's indeed healthy, and by all accounts he appears to be, he has as much or more talent than anyone and it would be hard to imagine a guy outside of the three listed above beating him.
5) Mohammed Trafeh – Odds 8/1
Trafeh is going to be a factor. While some of the athletes on this list have raced a tune-up effort or two over the last few weeks none has done so at as high a level as Trafeh who crossed the line in 1:01:39 at the CRBC Zhuhai International Half Marathon in China. Last year in Houston he took down Hall over the last 200 meters to win the U.S. Half Marathon Championships on virtually the same course that will be used on Janaury 14th. His only negative is that he has not finished a marathon, dropping out of London last April in his only attempt at the distance.
6) Jason Hartmann – Odds 12/1
We had the often overshadowed former Rockford (MI) HS star listed 4th in our original set of rankings over the summer. He drops a spot with the addition of Rupp but he only solidified his position as the "best of the rest" after his 1:03:34 at the Zappos Rock n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in early December. His 2:12 win at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 2009 proved his ability to race in the late stages of a marathon and his 2:10 at Chicago in 2010 on a warm day showed he can handle the elements. As we said back in July we could see him having a Brian Sell-esque type of race at the Trials and grabbing a spot on the team in the final miles.
7) Brett Gotcher – Odds 12/1
Gotcher's chances have improved in our minds after a succesful fall that included a fifth place finish at the U.S. 20K Championships and a third a month later at the 10 Mile Champs. Most recently he was sixth at the Club Cross Country Championships in the middle of heavy marathon training. His 2:10:36 debut in Houston in 2010 makes him one of very few athletes in the field with a marathon performance equal to what it will take to make the team.
8) Jason Lehmkuhle – Odds 15/1
Lehmkuhle rises a few spots from where we had him over the summer after a healthy fall and a very nice tune-up in Vegas that saw him finish just three ticks back of Hartmann. His positive is that he has run several marathons and several in the 2:12-2:13 range. He was also fifth at the last Trials. The flip-side is that he has run several marathons in the 2:12-2:13 range but it will likely take at least a 2:11 if not much faster to make the team in Houston.
9) Ryan Bak – Odds 20/1
Perhaps the most interesting story of all the dark-horses, Bak had retired from competive running in 2009 only to return this summer after a move to Bend, Oregon re-ignited his passion for the sport. Not owning a qualifier, the former star of 5,000 meters Nothing Comes Easy chose to run the California International Marathon in December just six weeks out from the Trials. To even his own surprise he crossed the line second in 2:14:17, one of the best American debuts ever. According to Bak it was not an all-out effort and he was back training the very next day. Should he continue his rise it would not be at all inconceivable to see him run in the 2:11 range in Houston and that could get the job done.
10) Nick Arciniaga – Odds 20/1
The man his coach Greg McMillan has called "Steady Eddy" for his consistency suffered a bit of a setback this summer when a leg injury caused him to have an off day at the World Championships where he was 47th in 2:24. More importantly as it relates to the Trials he missed a chunck of training after the August race and was a little behind the eight ball when it came time to get ready for the Trials. Still, the fact that he has run 2:11 twice makes him very dangerous. In both of those races he was out much faster than that and hung on for very solid finishes, never blowing up. That is a trait that not many runners have and could serve him very well in Houston.
11) Patrick Smyth – Odds 25/1
We like a lot about this guy when it comes to the marathon. First of all from the moment he began his post-collegiate career he seemed to excel on the roads and the longer the race the better he ran. He is a very smooth runner and reminds us somewhat of Ryan Hall. Like Hall was back in 2007, he is coached by Terrence Mahon who is clearly one of the best marathon coaches in the country. In a recent Runners World brief chat Mahon said that Smyth's 1:05 in Vegas was just run at race pace in the middle of a very heavy week and that he feels Smyth will be ready in Houston. That endorsement alone is a good enough reason for us to believe he has a shot.
12) Tim Nelson – Odds 30/1
Nelson is a guy we just cannot keep off this list. He has run 27:33. The potential is there for him to make the team and that's what these odds are all about. There are probably guys who have a better chance of running a solid race and being in the top ten but Nelson, should he figure out the marathon, could be top three. Still, he will have to figure it out on the toughest of days under the heaviest of pressure so he remains a long shot.
13) Brent Vaughn – Odds 35/1
We liken Vaughn to Smyth. He seems to be suited for the longer distances as evidenced by his win over 12k at the USA Cross Country Championships last February and his 1:02:04 half marathon best though he also has a very solid 5k PR (13:18). Also like Smyth he is coached by a man who knows what the heck he's doing in Jerry Schumacher and he's got fantastic training partners in Nelson and Simon Bairu.
14) Mike Morgan – Odds 40/1
While nearly all of the news from the Hansons-Brooks camp is focused on Desi Davila and her bid to win the womens race the men will have yet another large contingent led by the veteran Morgan. Judging by this recent workout video he's in very good shape and perhaps ready to run 2:12 or better. Whether that makes the team or not remains to be seen but rare is the day when the Hansons guys don't race well in a marathon. Morgan would be a huge surprise to many but not to those who know how hard they train up in Michigan.
15) Abdi Abdirahman – Odds 50/1
Abdi gave us hope that he was back after a win at the U.S. 20k Championships in September. He followed that up with a sixth-place finish at the Ten Mile Champs a month later but that result just wasn't what we would have saw from the old Abdi. Certainly not from the Abdi that ran 2:08 in Chicago back in 2006. You can't completely count someone with his credentials out but he'll have to be in better shape than we've seen him in almost four years to make the team.
75/1- Max King, Matt Gabrielson, Luke Humphrey, Sergio Reyes, Fernando Cabada, Andrew Carlson, Fasil Bizuneh, Brian Olinger, Bolota Asmeron, Sean Houseworth, Josh Moen, Ryan Vail, Sean Quigley, James Carney, Jeffrey Eggleston, Matt Gabrielson, Josh Cox
Click HERE to see what Runners World thinks
Click HERE for a full list of entries
1) Desiree Davila – Odds 1/5
When we wrote our first set of rankings back in the summer we had Davila at #2 but since then, just from reading articles and watching training videos, it seems that the Arizona State Grad turned Hansons-Brooks star is in phenomenal shape. Dare we say even better shape than before Boston when she ran 2:22 and nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Marathon Major history. With Davila's experience at the distance and her streak of faster marathons each time out her chances of making the team seem very, very good.
2) Shalane Flanagan – Odds 1/1
We called her the favorite this summer and she's done nothing to indicate she's not ready to go. In fact she's looked great at a couple of half-marathon tune-up races recently where her coach, Jerry Schumacher, had her running at goal marathon pace. Her 1:09:58 at the Rock n' Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon in warm temps and on a rolling course was especially impressive. Both Flanagan and Davila seem like sure things to make the team but you just never know.
3) Kara Goucher – Odds 3/1
Goucher had a much-publicized coaching change this fall moving across Nike headquarters from Alberto Salazar to Jerry Schumacher. One cited advantage was the opportunity to train with Schumacher pupils Shalane Flanagan and Lisa Koll. Recent interviews indicate that thought things were tough at first Goucher is getting used to the workload and keeping up better in workouts. In her final tune-up she ran a 1:12:59 half marathon which was supposedly goal marathon pace. To believe Goucher is in 2:26 shape is not far-fetched and if she runs that in Houston she will make the team.
4) Deena Kastor – Odds 8/1
We are big fans of Kastor and her coach Terrence Mahon and each have made recent statements that lead us to believe the 38-year-old Kastor will be a major factor on the 14th of January. In a Runners World Brief Chat Kastor herself said, "At this point, I'm looking to win the race. I'm excited that my fitness has shifted so much that I can think like that." In his own Brief Chat Mahon said, "anyone who's counting [Kastor] out isn't very smart." This isn't the NFL. You just don't make statements like that unless you are ready to back them up. We have to think she's ready.
5) Amy Hastings – Odds 10/1
We went on record this summer in saying that Hastings is our dark-horse to make the team. Runners on the rise and hitting the peak of their careers at the right time are always dangerous in any distance at an Olympic Trials. 2011 was a huge breakthrough year for the Arizona State grad who posted a runner-up finish at the Honda LA Marathon in March and followed up with a track season that saw her run between 15:15 and 15:30 in the 5k a number of times culminating in a trip to the finals at the World Championships. She showed her current fitness with a 1:11 half marathon in Las Vegas in December and will almost assuredly be a factor in the lead pack in Houston.
6) Magdalena Lewy-Boulet - Odds 12/1
Magda, as she is affectionately known, became a US citizen on September 11th, 2001. Seven years later she qualified for Team USA in Beijing after nearly winning the Olympic Trials that April. The landscape has changed quite a bit since that time with Flanagan and Goucher taking on the 26.2 mile distance and Davila rising through the ranks. Magda still has a great chance to make the team again, however, as her PR's have improved at nearly every distance and her 2:26:22 makes her the third fastest in the field.
7) Janet Cherobon-Bawcom– Odds 20/1
Cherobon-Bawcom was on fire in 2011, winning US Road Championships at 20k, 10 miles and 10k and throwing in a 1:11:58 win at the BAA Half Marathon for good measure. This will be the first full year the Kenyan-born Cherobon-Bawcom can compete for the United States having only recently gained her citizenship. Whether or not she will compete for Team USA depends on how her success at shorter distances this fall translates to the marathon in January. Though her other PR's are better her marathon best is a fairly modest 2:37.
8) Stephanie Rothstein – Odds 20/1
Rothstein is an interesting story as her career took a complete one-eighty for the better after being diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009. A gluten-free diet ever since has helped keep the former UC Santa Barbara star healthy, happy and fit. Her 2:29:35 stunner at the 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon vaulted her straight into the mix for a 2012 Olympic spot. Part of Greg McMillan's elite group in Flagstaff she'll join teammates Brett Gotcher and Nick Arciniaga in Houston.
9) Jen Rhines - Odds 25/1
Rhines has made an Olympic Marathon team before but it was back in 2004 when the Trials were in Saint Louis. Not long thereafter Rhines shifted her focus back to the track where she has excelled at a variety of events and especially at 5,000 meters. After a failed attempt at the ING NYC Marathon this fall Rhines decided to run the Trials and her talent and experience can not be ignored.
10) Katie McGregor – Odds 25/1
We moved McGregor past a few people from where we had her this summer mostly based on her 1:11:45 at Vegas which just happened to be a PR for a woman who has had a long and very successful career. Plus, while others have similar qualifying times her 2:31:01 was run on the tough NYC course and that's worth a couple minutes in our minds.
11) Tera Moody - Odds 30/1
Moody has quietly been one of the most consistent US Marathoners since her fifth place finish at the '08 Trials. Her 2:30:54 at Chicago a year ago is a time that could make the team seeing as 2:29:57 and a 2:32:40 were good enough for third in 2004 and 2008 respectively. Coming off a 17th place finish at the World Championships in Daegu look for Moody to be a factor for that oh-so-coveted third spot in Houston.
12) Serena Burla – Odds 30/1
Burla's story is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. Coming off an incredible couple of years that saw the Mizzou grad climb through the ranks of US distance running Burla was suddenly diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her right hamstring in 2010. The diagnosis came soon after a second place finish (1:10:08) at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon where she gave Shalane Flanagan all she could handle despite her leg being so sore that she very nearly did not start. Amazingly, after surgery to remove the tumor, Burla was back a year later with a 1:11:38 at Houston, a 2:37 marathon debut in NYC and a very under-publicized 2:35:08 in Prague this past May. Her high-end potential and agressive style certainly suggest she will be in the mix.
13) Clara Grandt – Odds 35/1
Grandt may be the least know of anyone in the top ten but her competitors may want to make themselves familiar with this rising star. The 24-year-old West Virginia grad appears to be the youngest woman with a real chance to make the team and make no mistake; she does indeed have a chance. Look no further than her 2:29:54 debut at Boston for proof.
14) Molly Pritz – Odds 40/1
When we wrote our rankings this summer Pritz was on the list based on her half marathon PR but had yet to debut at 26.2. That's no longer the case after her 2:31 at NYC this fall. That was a very solid performance. The only question is can she come back so quickly and be ready in Houston.
15) Blake Russell– Odds 50/1
Russell, like Kastor, Rhines and Lewy-Boulet has made a US Olympic Marathon team before. That is an invaluable experience. It means she knows she's physically capable of doing what it takes. Whether or not she is in that kind of shape now remains to be seen but at least it's possible.
75/1- Jennifer Houck, Paige Higgins, Kelly Jaske, Nan Kennard, Ilsa Paulson, Zoila Gomez, Melissa White, Colleen De Reuck, Emily Harrison, Adriana Nelson, Maegan Krifchin, Dot McMahan, Amanda Marino, Meghan Peyton
Click HERE to see what Runners World thinks
Click HERE for a full list of entries