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Injuries Sideline Kastor, Vail from U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon

Deena Kastor announced via Twitter on Wednesday that she’s out of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon that will be run through the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 13. A three-time Olympian who won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics, Kastor was the fourth-fastest qualifier in the women’s field for Saturday’s race. The American-record holder in the marathon is out with a strained left glute that arose during practice last week.

“Our Mammoth Track Club team has been in Folsom, California for sea level training camp for two and a half weeks,” Kastor said in a USA Track & Field Release. “After months of working hard, I strained my glute muscle in practice while on the American River Trail. I was diligent in resting, but my glute just won’t settle down.

“I look forward to witnessing a great Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, cheering on my Mammoth Track Club teammates and celebrating the members of the U.S. Olympic Team.”

Ryan Vail, the fifth-fastest qualifier in the men’s field with a 2:10:57 PR, is also out, due to a femoral stress fracture that presented itself last weekend. He confirmed the news on Twitter on Wednesday. He was injured last fall and only started training for the Olympic Trials 12 weeks ago. “I understood the risks attempting top marathon shape in a short period of time, but it is still gut wrenching so close to the race,” he said.

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Kastor, who turns 43 the day after the Olympic Trials Marathon, ran a strong race at the Chicago Marathon last fall, setting a new American masters record of 2:27:47. She was also an Olympian in 2000 (10,000-meter run) and 2008 (marathon) and set the American record in the marathon (2:19:36) in 2006.

Vail, 29, was sidelined with a navicular stress reaction last summer and then a sacral stress fracture last fall. He got clearance from his doctors to start training in mid-November and put in a solid 11 weeks of training that included two weeks of 140 miles. Two weeks ago in Portland, he ran a 16-mile tempo run at 4:58 pace alone in a cold rain and believed he was fit and ready to compete.

He had been training all winter in Portland but headed to Chula Vista, Calif., on Jan. 29 to acclimate to the warmer weather that is expected on race day. He said he experienced some extreme thigh pain while training last weekend and found out on Feb. 8 he has a femoral stress fracture.

Although Vail didn’t have the kind of year he though he’d have in 2015—his last race was a fifth-place 28:22 effort in the 10,000-meter run at the U.S. track and field championships last June—he believed he was getting close to his previous form of 2014 in recent weeks. His 2:10:57 PR effort at the 2014 London Marathon galvanized his place in the upper echelon among American distance runners and was the result of years of gradual progression.

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Vail, a former Oklahoma State All-American in college, placed 11th at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston, running a 2:12:43 in what was his debut marathon. Later that year, he ran 2:11:45 at Japan’s Fukuoka Marathon. After his breakthrough in London two years ago, he felt like he reached another level—perhaps on the verge of running in the 2:09 range—before the 2014 New York City Marathon. But cold, windy conditions slowed the entire field that day and he wound up at 2:15:08, which was still good enough for ninth place.

Other potential contenders who have dropped out of the Olympic Trials recently include four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman (injury), two-time Olympian Ryan Hall (retirement), as well as Aaron Braun (injury), Matt Tegenkamp (injury) and Chris Derrick (unknown setback) in the men’s race, and Lauren Kleppin (injury), Sarah Crouch (injury) and Neely Spence Gracey (injury last fall, now focusing on the April 18 Boston Marathon) in the women’s field.