One of the most celebrated pre-Olympic events, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, will be hosted by two of the world's most distinguished marathon organizers. USA Track & Field awarded the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials -Women's Marathon to the Boston Athletic Association and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon to the New York Road Runners. These two organisations form part of the World Marathon Majors (WMM).
"The successful bids from the B.A.A and NYRR to host the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials create an opportunity to continue and expand an established working relationship," said USATF CEO Craig A. Masback. "Working together, we will create a higher level of visibility for the sport and our athletes. Both cities will put on world-class events as our athletes attempt to fulfill their Olympic dreams, using fan-friendly race formats that will make the races even more appealing."
Women take to Beantown
The B.A.A. will host the women's event on Sunday, April 20, 2008, the day before the 112th running of the Boston Marathon. Starting and finishing at the traditional Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, the Olympic Trials race will feature a specially designed course that tours historic Boston with a one-time loop that passes Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, the State House and Beacon Hill.
The course will then feature four loops of approximately six miles each proceeding down Commonwealth Avenue, crossing the Charles River into Cambridge using the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, running east, then west along Memorial Drive. Runners then return from each of the Core Loops via Massachusetts Avenue.
"There's nothing in our sport quite like the Boston Marathon and Patriots' Day weekend," said Guy Morse, Executive Director, Boston Athletic Association. "The B.A.A. and the greater Boston running community are pleased and excited to have been selected to host the USA's best female marathoners in their Olympic quest. Like much of the City itself, the B.A.A. has worked to make this course and will work to make the next Olympic Trials experience unique to Boston. This is a downtown course in a city synonymous with running."
Men hit the Big Apple
NYRR, the organization behind the world's largest marathon, leading advocate of American long distance running, and organizer of a year-round calendar of races in Central Park, successfully bid to conduct the men's Olympic Trials during the Marathon weekend of November 2, 2007. The course is expected to be a criterium-style course in Central Park that will start and finish near Tavern on the Green. It will be the reverse of the loop used when NYRR hosted the USA 8K Championships from 2002 to 2004. Athletes will run the loop five times, with distance added to complete the full 42.195K of the marathon.
"We are honored to be named as host for the 2008 Men's Olympic Marathon Trials," said Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Road Runners. "At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens we entered the next great era of American marathon running, as we build upon that foundation we look forward to crowning our American superstars on the ultimate stage - New York City."
Significant prize money
Both events will provide $250,000 in prize money in addition to paying travel and lodging costs for athletes who achieve the Olympic Trials "A" qualifying standard of 2:39:00 for women and 2:20:00 for men. In 2004, 24 women and 14 men met the Olympic Trials "A" standard.
In 2004, a total of 120 women and 85 men competed in their respective Olympic Trials races. In addition to marathon times, women can qualify by running a track time of 33:00 or faster for 10,000 meters and men can run qualifying standards by achieving track performances of 13:40 for 5,000 meters or 28:45 for 10,000 meters. Athletes who achieve these times or qualify with a marathon time faster than 2:47:00 for women and 2:22:00 for men may compete in the race but do not receive funding. There are currently 46 women and 67 men qualified to compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon.
A one-day qualifying opportunity took place at the USA Marathon Championships hosted by the Twin Cities Marathon on October 2, 2005. The regular qualifying window for athletes to achieve their qualifying times began January 1 and will go through March 23, 2008 for women and October 7, 2007 for men. Olympic qualifying standards have not yet been set by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
For more information visit www.usatf.org.