Louise Damen (adidas) has earned a spot for next month’s European Cross-Country Championships by finishing as 1st senior and 3rd overall in yesterday’s McCain UK Cross Challenge incorporating the European Cross-Country Trials. It was a great confidence-building run for Louise after a long stretch of physical rehab this year. Louise completed the 8.1 km course in Liverpool’s Sefton Park in 27:55, commenting afterwards on the UK Athletics website, “I’m no spring chicken, it’s ten years since I won my first senior GB vest, so I’m really pleased…The under-23 girls are so strong and it’s great to see them step up. When I found myself at the front it was unintentional and I decided to pull back a bit. I didn’t feel too good on the second lap and got a bit detached but on the final lap I knew I had to use my marathon strength and I felt good.” Louise was also on the 2010 silver medal-winning UK senior women’s team at the Europeans.
The European Championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday, December 9th.
Boulder Wave released the following press release five minutes ago: Grassroots Support Growing for Lee Merrien to be Named to UK Olympic Men’s Marathon Team April 25, 2012 A fan of British marathon runner Lee Merrien has created an impromptu Facebook page called “Select Lee Merrien” to support the selection of Merrien to the British …
In about 12 hours, the gun will go off for the 9:00 a.m. start of the elite women’s run in the Virgin London Marathon, followed 45 minutes later by the start of the elite men and mass races. Boulder Wave has nine runners from five countries in this year’s race, and interesting stores abound, with an overwhelming focus on Olympic qualification.
John Beattie (UK/adidas): budding star of the Twitter universe and Athleticos whose London prep has been entertainingly documented in a several on-line videos. John learned some valuable lessons in his 2:23 marathon debut in NYC last November, and will run with the 2:11 group with a target to be one of the top two British men AND run under 2:12:00, thereby taking one of the two remaining spots on the UK Olympic men’s marathon team.
Louise Damen (UK/adidas): debuted in 2:30:00 in last year’s Virgin London Marathon and is among 4-5 top British women with the best hopes of gaining the third spot on the British Olympic Marathon team. It is expected that the top British woman tomorrow will also have to be under 2:28:24, which is the recent best of Jo Pavey, who is currently in line for the third spot on the team.
Constantina Dita (ROU/ASICS): the 42 year old reigning Olympic Marathon Champion is aiming to qualify to return to the Olympic Games. It will take a sub-2:37:00 mark to hit the qualifying “A” standard and join Lidia Simon for a third time on Romania’s Olympic team.
Rene Kalmer (RSA/adidas/Nedbank): secured a place on South Africa’s Olympic marathon team with a wonderful 2:29:59 PB in last November’s very hot, very humid Yokohama women’s marathon. Rene is pacing the 2:28 women’s group here, which is expected to include most of the British women fighting for the final spot on their Olympic marathon team, as far as 20 miles. Last month, she paced the 2:23 lead pack of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon for 24 km.
Edna Kiplagat (KEN/Nike): the reigning IAAF Marathon World Champion is aiming to win tomorrow, and also to confirm her spot on Kenya’s Olympic team.
Lee Merrien (UK/ASICS): won the Jim Peters award in the 2011 Virgin Marathon as the top British finisher. Has had a fantastic autumn and winter of training including three stints in Kenya. Two spots remain on the British Olympic men’s marathon team, and Lee will be going out with the 2:11 pacemaking group with a target of sub-2:12 and top two British finish.
Freya Murray (UK/adidas): her maraton debut and she is jumping right into the thick of it by targeting both a fast debut and the final spot on the British Olympic Marathon team.
Louise Damen (UK/adidas): debuted in 2:30:00 in last year’s Virgin London Marathon and is among 4-5 top British women with the best hopes of gaining the third spot on the British Olympic Marathon team. As in Louise Damen’s case, Freya will need to be top British woman and finish under 2:28:24 (which is the recent best of Jo Pavey, who is currently in line for the third spot on the team) to secure that Olympic berth.
Patrick Rizzo (USA/Mizuno): will pace the 2:11 men’s group potentially as far as 20 miles. After improving his marathon PB by over two minutes with his 2:13:42in January’s US Olympic Trails, Pat will also use the race tomorrow as part of his longer-term goal of running under 2:11 in a marathon this autumn.
Irvette van Blerk (RSA/adidas/Nedbank): With a 70:56 half-marathon PB, Irvette has a promising marathon career ahead, with tomorrow’s race being her debut at the distance. A sub-2:37:00 finish to achieve the Olympic “A” standard will put her on South Africa’s Olympic marathon team.
Louise Damen (adidas) chats with Andy Edwards about improving on her 2:30:00 PB and Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon, where she will chase the final women’s spot on the UK Olympic marathon team. Click here.
Heck of an interesting fundraiser by Peter Symonds College in Winchester in the UK to support Louise Damen‘s (adidas) Olympic ambitions. Great stuff to hear of support like this! Louise will compete in the April 22nd Virgin London Marathon aiming at the final spot on the UK women’s Olympic Marathon team. Last year, Louise debuted in an sterling 2:30:00 in London. Click here for the Hampshire Chronicle article.
A couple of days late on this report, but at the January 7th Hampshire County Cross-Country Championships, Lee Merrien (ASICS) and Louise Damen (adidas) took the men’s and women’s titles, respectively, with John Beattie (adidas) runner-up to Lee by just a handful of seconds. John reports: “Louise won comfortably, and on the men’s side Lee just outsprinted me in the last few hundred yards to win by 4 seconds. Was quite an undulating course and I tried constantly for 12k to drop him at every available chance, though he just wouldn’t go away and held on to find more of a sprint than me in the end! Both of us ran well and were 90 secs clear of 3rd which was encouraging. Nice to have my confidence restored somewhat and start 2012 much better than most of what went on in 2011.”
Click here for a short video report on the day’s racing, courtesy of channelonline.tv
The Yokohama International Women’s Marathon is a done deal. The weather gods weren’t particularly friendly, with temps at 23C (71F) and humidity near 50%. But the starting gun was going to go off at 12:10 pm, regardless.
With a Japanese Olympic berth at stake, Yoshimi Ozaki (Daiichi Life Insurance/adidas) gave it her all, but came up just short in the final kilometer. Today’s heat made the race a classic race of attrition, and by 35K the lead pack was down to three: Yoshimi, the UK’s Mara Yamauchi (who ran a brilliant race of patience, only pulling even with the leaders at about 23K), and Daiuhatsu’s Ryoko Kizaki. Right at 39K, Kizaki threw in a big move that dropped Mara, but Yoshimi stayed right on her. With about 1500m remaining, Yoshimi threw in her own surge, seeking to repeat her winning move in the last edition of this race. After opening about 10 meters, the gap grew no more. Kizaki stayed tough, drew even with a K to go, and then surged away to win by 2:26:32 to Yoshimi’s 2:26:49.
Yoshimi will almost certainly have to come back for next March’s Nagoya International Women’s Marathon to fight again for an Olympic team spot.
Meanwhile, Rene Kalmer (Nedbank/adidas) was having a phenomenal break-through day. After checking the weather, Rene decided before her warm-ups that it would be a day for racing for place rather than trying to put up an impressive mark. In the end, she got both. Backing away from an earlier plan to target 74:00 for the first half, she instead came through in a very solid and contained 74:58 at 10th place. As planned and hoped, Rene then began taking down other runners throughout the second half, with some impressive running. Her 17:27 split from 20K-25K was the fastest of any of the eventual top ten runners, and her 17:22 for the next 5K was better than all but the lead pack. By 30K she had moved up to 7th, and five minutes later Russian Alevtina Ivanova and Ethiopian Robe Guta were suddenly within range and Rene was up to 5th. The 1:35 gap to 4th looked fairly insurmountable at that point, but Rene continued coming on like a freight engine and was just 16 seconds out of 4th by the finish .
Nevertheless…2:29:59, a nearly five minute improvement over her PB this Spring of 2:34:47. Incredible stuff in today’s conditions. We have to check the stats, but we’re fairly certain this makes Rene only the 4th woman in South African history to break 2:30, and the first to do it in quite a few years. More important, her spot on the South African marathon team for next summer’s London Olympic Games is pretty much locked in. Post race comment: “Now I’m a marathoner. Let’s get some ice cream.”
Louise Damen (adidas) had a very rough day, with a DNF. “We rarely have temperatures like this back home, and I wasn’t at all ready for this kind of weather. There isn’t much that could be done about it and by 10K I was already feeling out of it.”
Next up: off to the awards ceremony and post-race party at Yokohama’s Pan-Pacific Yokohama Bay Hotel.