Three cities are sprinting toward the finish line in a bid to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
As Runner’s World reports, Los Angeles and Cincinnati are challenging Houston, which hosted the men’s and women’s London Olympic qualifiers in January 2012, for the honor of showcasing America’s finest distance runners and selecting the squad that represents the nation in Rio de Janeiro.
USATF officials have already visited Cincinnati and are slated to meet with Los Angeles organizers today (September 30). Houston’s contingent will make its case in Chicago on the weekend of October 12–13, when the Windy City hosts its annual marathon.
The USATF will announce the winning city at its annual meeting in December.
While Houston has the benefit of experience, Los Angeles and Cincinnati are making strong cases. Since 1999, the latter has held the Flying Pig Marathon, an increasingly popular event that Ed Torres of the USATF says earns the Ohio city a spot in the final three.
“They are doing something right,” Torres said, according to Cincinnati’s WLWT TV. “That alone speaks volumes. It was an easy choice to say yes, this should be a finalist.”
What’s more, two-time Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall helped Cincinnati redesign its proposed course, reducing the number of bridges to increase the number of spectators.
“I’m a better runner and the race is more exciting when fans are along the course,” Hall said, according to Runner’s World.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Team L.A. is chasing the 2016 race with glitzier things in mind. The city is angling to host the 2024 Olympics, and such high-profile athletes as 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, a Southern California native, are putting their names behind the effort.
The City of Angels has hosted the Olympics twice, in 1932 and 1984, and Kastor says the ’84 Games “inspired a generation of runners.”
"The legacy of the 1984 Games lives on today, and our great city is ready to show the nation that our Olympic spirit continues to thrive," said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg