Worlds Collide at the US Olympic Trials Marathon

A look at the trail and ultrarunning talents who qualified for the 2012 US Olympic Trials Marathon.

By on January 12, 2012 | Comments

2012 US Olympic Marathon TrialsYou may be asking yourself why the heck iRunFar is talking about the US Olympic Trials Marathon. Well, it’s because it intrigues the hell out of me… and that’s without me giving a darn about the results aside from wanting my friends to run well. What caught my interest is how the trials showcase the overlap of the mainstream endurance running scene (primarily road running) and the mountain/ultra/trail ranks. The overlap is increasingly occurring in both directions.

I first got to thinking about the subject during the long drive from Park City, Utah to the Bay Area to cover The North Face Endurance Challenge 50. Specifically, I was thinking about how Meghan Arbogast, Devon Crosby-Helms, and Caitlin Smith – three women I considered first as trail and/or ultrarunners – had qualified for the trials. That Sunday, Jenn Shelton joined the list with a 2:45:01 at the California International Marathon. A quick note on Twitter after CIM yielded a number of other female qualifiers, including Tyler Stewart who’d just placed fifth at the TNF 50 mile, 2009 IAU 100k world champion Kami Semick, as well as Pikes Peak Ascent and Mount Washington Road Run winner Kim Dobson. Mountain running specialists Megan Lund-Lizotte and Kasie Enman have also qualified for the trials.

Of course, there are a pair of prominent men from trail/ultra ranks who’ll be in Houston this weekend – Max King and Michael Wardian. While Max King is a great runner and a great guy, I’m particularly psyched for Wardian running these Olympic Trials. Why? Because after Wardian led the early miles of the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon, USATF (not so) coincidentally lowered the qualifying standard. Wardian worked tirelessly for three years before earning his qualifier for this year’s trials last June. You also have guys like trials qualifier Chris Lundstrom who come from a road background and race well on the trails. Although not qualifiers, a bunch of guys from Flagstaff, Arizona would also fall into this category.

You can follow the Olympic Trials Marathon here.

Mountain/Ultra/Trail Women’s Qualifiers (qualifying time in parentheses)

  • Leah Thorvilson (2:39:43 – running) – Winner 2011 Strolling Jim 40
  • Kasie Enman (2:39:55) – 2011 Mountain Running World Champion
  • Wendy Terris (2:40:24) – Two-time winner Sunmart 50k
  • Chris Lundy (2:40:06) – 2009 US Mountain Running Champion
  • Caitlin Smith (2:41:37 – running) – Winner of 2009 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships
  • Devon Crosby-Helms (2:42:44 – running) – JFK 50 mile course record holder (pre-race blog entry)
  • Sopenga Eap (2:43:05) – 2010 USATF Trail Half Marathon Champion
  • Susannah Beck (2:43:18) – Second at 2008 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships
  • Michele Suszek (2:43:45) – Member 2011 US Mountain Running Team
  • Joanna Zieger (2:43:48 – running) – [would love any specific trail/ultra info] (pre-race blog entry)
  • Heather McNiff née Wood (2:43:53) – Strong ultra finishes in late 2009 and 2010.
  • Jenn Shelton (2:45:01 – running) – Winner of 2007 Rocky Raccoon 100 mile in 14:57:18 (post-qualifier interview)
  • Tyler Stewart (2:45:14 – running) – Fifth at 2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships
  • Kami Semick (2:45:18 – not racing) – 2009 IAU 100k World Champion
  • Megan Lund-Lizotte (2:45:37 – running) – 2011 Sierre Zinal and USATF Trail Marathon Champ (pre-trials interview)
  • Meghan Arbogast (2:45:48 – running) – 50+ women’s 100k world record holder
  • Kim Dobson (2:45:56 – running) – 2011 Pikes Peak Ascent and Mount Washington Road Run

Mountain/Ultra/Trail Men’s Qualifiers (qualifying time in parentheses)

  • Josh Cox (2:13:51 – running) – US 50k record holder (2:43:45) (pre-race audio interview)
  • Ryan Bak (2:14:17 – running) – Second place team at 2011 GORE-TEX TransRockies Run (with Max King) (pre-trials article)
  • Max King (2:15:34 – running) – 2011 US Mountain Running World Champion (pre-trials interview)
  • Michael Wardian (2:17:49 – running) – 2011 IAU 100k World Championships silver medalist (team gold)
  • Chris Lundstrom (2:18:58 – running) – 3rd 2009 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships (pre-race blog entry)

Call for Comments

  • Did we miss any mountain/ultra/trail runners who qualified for the trials?
  • Anyone know if Kasie Enman, Susannah Beck, Heather McNiff, Leah Thorvilson, Chris Lundy, Sopenga Eap, Wendy Terris, Jenn Shelton, or Chris Lundstrom are running?
  • Who are you most excited to follow at the trials – mountain/ultra/trail runner or not?
  • If you’re one of the above qualifiers, please leave a comment for your fans!

1/12/12 – Added Jenn Shelton article (thanks, Jon Allen), Chris Lundstrom blog entry, Heather McNiff Woods (thanks, Jim Holmes), Ryan Bak (thanks, Ian Torrence), Leah Thorvilson (thanks again, Ian), Chris Lundy (thanks, George), Michele Suszek (thanks, Justin Mock), Sopegan Eap (thanks, Scott Dunlap), Joanna Zieger (thanks again, Scott), and (thanks, Sean Meissner. Corrected Heather Wood’s name to McNiff (thanks, Andy G), Tyler Stewart’s status to running (thanks, Devon Crosby-Helms) as well as Leah Thorvilson’s (thanks, Trent), and Ryan Bak’s TransRockies placing (thanks, CJ).

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.