As Deena Kastor won the marathon trials, two other U.S. women earned redemption
with their Beijing berths
FOR THE Best U.S.
track and field athletes, the Olympic trials are a delicate dance—an attempt to
make the national team without sacrificing potential success at the Games. Four
years ago Deena Kastor won a bronze medal in the marathon at the Athens
Olympics, and on Sunday morning at the women's marathon trials in Boston,
Kastor sought to win the race while saving her best work for Beijing in August.
"Get the most doing the least," said Ryan Hall, who won the men's
trials last November and trains with Kastor at high altitude in Mammoth Lakes,
Planning is simpler
than execution. More than 14 miles into Sunday's race, Kastor trailed Magdalena
Lewy Boulet by nearly two minutes. Kastor had intended to stay with the pack
and race hard only for the last 10,000 meters. "But there were a lot of
miles where I thought that I'd misjudged it," she would say afterward.
Kastor, 35, the
fastest U.S. female marathoner in history (2:19:36), set out after Lewy Boulet
in the 16th mile. It took her nearly eight miles to run down Lewy Boulet before
passing her in the 24th mile and finishing in 2:29:35, with Lewy Boulet 44
seconds behind and third Olympic qualifier Blake Russell another 2:21 back.
"I had to run a strong last six miles to win," said Kastor. "I feel
I can recover from this and move forward to Beijing."
Lewy Boulet, 34,
who is married to one-time 3:53 miler Richie Boulet, broke away less than a
mile into the race, absurdly early. Except on out-and-back sections of the
course, she didn't see another runner until Kastor caught her. Lewy Boulet's
pace was not terribly fast (1:14:37 for the half-marathon), but excruciatingly
lonely. "The plan was to run the pace I was running," Lewy Boulet said.
"The plan was not to run by myself."
performance was the pinnacle of a trying career. A native of Poland, she moved
to Long Beach, Calif., with her family at age 18 and was sworn in as a U.S.
citizen on Sept. 11, 2001, in a ceremony that was truncated because of the
terrorist attacks that day. Lewy Boulet has a two-year-old son, but she does
not have shoe company sponsorship and must hold down a job, rare among top
runners. Last September she began work as a full-time assistant track coach at
Cal after working for seven years as the research and development director for
GU Sports, which makes a popular energy gel.
Even as Lewy Boulet
built her early lead, she feared a collapse. "Many things went through my
head," she said. She recalled that Russell had led the 2004 trials before
fading late and missing the Olympic team by five seconds. Lewy Boulet thought,
Oh boy, I hope that doesn't happen to me.
Russell hoped it
didn't happen to her. Again. With Lewy Boulet far in front and Kastor looming
in the pack, Russell knew that her margin for error was slim. "I have to be
honest, it [was] hard not to panic," she said. "But I felt
At 21 miles she led
Desiree Davila by just nine seconds. But Davila crashed, and Russell made her
first Olympic team by more than a minute. She called her redemption
"surreal," because for every Kastor, for whom the trials are
preparation, there are many Russells, for whom they are a dream.
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