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LOS ANGELES — The 2016 U.S. Olympic team for the marathon is set.
Under warm conditions in downtown Los Angeles, six runners emerged at the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon and will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games this summer. In the men’s race, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward got the cherished podium spots, while Amy Cragg, Desiree Linden and Shalane Flanagan finished 1-2-3 in the women’s race.
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Both races had impressive surges to spread out the field. Flanagan and Cragg took off at about mile 10 and broke away together, looking relaxed as they fed off each other and widened their lead. Their podium spots were theirs to lose after the half marathon split, though Flanagan struggled late and had to hang on. Linden, meanwhile, used the final 10K of the race to claw back into contention.
Cragg and Flanagan are training partners who did almost every workout together leading up to the Trials, including a training run at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon. It’s a partnership they’ve both cherished, and it was obvious throughout the race that they preferred staying together.
It wasn’t until Flanagan hit a wall at mile 25 that Cragg left her behind to take control of the race. Cragg won the race in 2:28:20. Linden ended up catching Flanagan in the final mile to finish second in 2:28:54, while an exhausted Flanagan finished third in 2:29:19, collapsing into Cragg’s arms at the finish line.
“Sweet baby Jesus I’m so thankful for her,” Flanagan said of Cragg after the race.
Kara Goucher finished fourth in 2:30:24, with Janet Bawcom (2:31:14) rounding out the top five.
On the men’s side, Keflezighi and Rupp surged ahead at about mile 18, breaking away from Tyler Pennell and taking control. Rupp further broke away from Keflezighi at mile 22, and showed the impressive speed that made him silver medalist in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics. He finished in 2:11:12, more than a minute ahead of anyone else. He crossed the finish line with a smile and a pump of the fist.
Keflezighi finished second, waving an American flag, in 2:12:20. Ward eventually caught Pennell and made his first Olympic team, crossing in 2:13:00. Luke Puskedra finished fourth, Pennell fifth.
While the Olympic team spots are the ultimate prize, there was also $600,000 passed out Saturday. Rupp and Cragg get $80,000 for winning, Keflezighi and Linden get $65,000 for second place and Ward and Flanagan will get $55,000 for third place. In all the top 10 places paid out.