Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Women’s Race Preview: Too Close To Call

Deep field means many possibilities.

The talent in this year's women's race stretches pretty deep. Photo:

The only predictable element of a marathon is the 26.2 mile distance.

Written by: Sabrina Grotewold

If predicting an Olympic marathon team were as simple as judging athletes based on their previous performances and what they’ve revealed to the media about their training and health leading up to the the Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday in Houston, then the 2012 women’s team would likely be: Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila and—after a battle among veterans—either Deena Kastor or Magdalena Lewy Boulet. However, the only predictable element of a marathon is the 26.2 mile distance. The talent in the women’s race stretches pretty deep, and this warrants a synopsis of the top contenders to get a holistic look at who could vie for the top three.

Desiree Davila

Desiree Davila, one of the favorites in the 2012 race, finished 13th in 2008, running 2:37:50. Photo:

Age: 28

Residence: Rochester Hills, Mich.

Marathon PR: 2:22:38, Boston (2011)

2011 summary: Davila achieved personal bests in the 5,000 meters, 10,000m, half-marathon and marathon last year. The 13th finisher at the 2008 trials in Boston, Davila has progressed patiently in the marathon from a 2:37:50 at the 2008 trials to a 2:26:50 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. Her gutsy performance at the 2011 Boston Marathon, where she traded the lead several times but eventually finished second, gave her worldwide attention and the fastest qualifying time (2:22:38) in the field.

Shalane Flanagan

Will Shalane Flanagan be the first woman across the finish line at the Trials in just her second marathon? Photo:

Age: 30

Residence: Portland, Ore.

Marathon PR: 2:28:40, New York (2010)

2011 summary: The majority of Flanagan’s performances last year were on the track, where she’s shined on the world’s stage as the bronze medalist in the 10,000m at the Beijing Games. The formidable competitor ran 30:39 for 10,000m last year, earned a bronze medal at the 2011 world cross country championships, and broke the tape at the Dodge Latin Music Miami Beach Half-Marathon in 1:09:58, the fastest half-marathon finish by an American women last year and a Florida state record.

Magdalena Lewy Boulet

Boulet will be gunning to make her second Olympic team in Houston. Photo:

Age: 39

Residence: Oakland, Calif.

Marathon PR: 2:26:22, Rotterdam (2010)

2011 summary: The 2008 trials runner-up is proving that age is just a number. She’s lowered her personal best in the 5,000 and 10,000m this year, and finished the 2011 London Marathon in 2:31:22, albeit in 23rd place.

Deena Kastor

At 38 years old, Deena Kastor will be looking to repeat as women's champion. Photo:

Age: 38

Residence: Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Marathon PR: 2:19:36

2011 summary: The 2008 trials winner and 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist suffered from extremely bad luck at the Beijing Olympic marathon, when she broke her foot in the early miles. She bounced back from the debilitating injury and, after taking the majority of 2010 off to have a baby girl, won her first race back from maternity leave, the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon in 1:11:48 in October.

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher, running her first race since this last summer's world track & field championships, finished second in 1:12:59 at the Latin Music Miami Beach 1/2 Marathon in December. Photo:

Age: 33

Residence: Portland, Ore.

Marathon PR: 2:25:53, New York (2008)

2011 summary: Goucher’s run personal bests in the 15K and 20K this year and placed third at the 2011 NYC Half Marathon in 1:09:03. She switched coaches a few months ago and is now training under Flanagan’s coach, Jerry Schumacher.

Amy Hastings

Amy Hastings, aka "Little Deena" will be aiming to make her first Olympic team on January 14. Photo:

Age: 27

Residence: Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Marathon PR: 2:27:03, LA Marathon (2011)

2011 summary: Hastings’ 2011 was a banner year—she battled heavy winds and rain in her 26.2-mile debut in what’s normally sunny Los Angeles to finish second. The runner-up at 2011 USA outdoors achieved a PR in the 5,000m last year (15:14.31).

Serena Burla

Serena Burla is a darkhorse heading into Saturday's Trials race. Photo:

Age: 27

Residence: St. Louis, Mo.

Marathon PR: 2:35:08

2011 summary: The runner-up at the 2011 half-marathon championships overcame synovial sarcoma—a soft tissue cancer that grew on her right hamstring—in 2010 and raced to her personal best in the marathon last year.

Janet Cherobon-Bawcom

Janet Cherobon broke the tape at last fall's BAA 1/2 Marathon and is a darkhorse to qualify for the Olympic Marathon team on Saturday. Photo:

Age: 33

Residence: Rome, Ga.

Marathon PR: 2:37:27

2011 summary: Cherobon-Bawcom won her first 20K national title in September and followed that performance up by winning the USA 10K title in Boston in October the day after winning the BAA Half-Marathon. The Kenyan-born U.S. citizen spent her weekends last fall racking up wins in road races.

Katie McGregor

Katie McGregor, center, runs with Amy Hastings early on at the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon in December. Photo:

Age: 34

Residence: Saint Louis Park, Minn.

Marathon PR: 2:31:01

2011 summary: McGregor lowered her half-marathon personal best by 16 seconds with her third-place finish at the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. The long-time Team USA Minnesota athlete finished in the top 10 at nearly every USA championship race last year.

Stephanie Rothstein

Stephanie Rothstein would like to give herself the birthday present of an Olympic berth on January 14. Photo:

Age: 27 (will turn 28 on Jan. 14)

Residence: Flagstaff, Ariz.

Marathon PR: 2:29:35

2011 summary: Rothstein should feel right at home in the friendly South; she ran her 26.2-mile personal best last year (for third place) at the Houston Marathon.

Blake Russell

Nobody's talking about Blake Russell heading into this year's Trials race--just the way she likes it. Photo:

Age: 36

Residence: Pacific Grove, Calif.

Marathon PR: 2:29:10

2011 summary: Russell, who in her typical fashion has flown under the radar heading into this year’s Trials race, returns in an attempt to make her second-straight Olympic Marathon team. Last year she finished fifth at the U.S. Cross Country Championships, qualifying for the world championships, where she finished 19th, helping the U.S. to a bronze medal in the team race.