Everyone thinks of Los Angeles as a driving town, but the City of Angels also has a thing for running.
Earlier this week, USATF officials announced that Los Angeles will host the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, bringing to an end a three-city competition involving Cincinnati, whose bid was ultimately rejected, and Houston, which hosted the 2012 trials and nearly regained the honor.
According to a Road Race Management report cited by Let’s Run, a five-member USATF panel voted unanimously last month to accept Houston’s application, paving the way for a return trip to Texas.
That’s when USATF CEO Max Siegel apparently stepped in and used his authority to select Los Angeles, a much larger media market. While USATF regulations allow Siegel to pick the location of the USA Championships, there remains some confusion regarding whether he had the authority override the panel.
Regardless, plans are moving forward for the high-profile men’s and women’s 26.2-mile Trials races, scheduled for February 13. (The ASICS LA Marathon, usually run in March, will take place the following day.) The top three finishers in each contest, provided that they meet qualifying standards, will represent the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and Siegel is “thrilled” about the level of exposure that the event will receive.
“With television coverage on NBC and incredible public and private support for the race in one of the world’s biggest media markets, everything is in place to continue to elevate the Olympic Trials and give our athletes a platform on which they can truly shine,” he said in a press release.
Similarly enthused is LA Marathon LLC CEO Tracey Russell, who pointed out that this week’s announcement comes nearly 30 years after American distance great Joan Benoit Samuelson emerged as a heroine of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games when she won gold in the first-ever women’s Olympic Marathon.
“By securing the Olympic Trials, Los Angeles is now set to deliver this city’s biggest running weekend since that iconic victory, providing our LA Marathon participants and fans with a rare opportunity to be part of an Olympic Trials celebration,” Russell said.
Marathoner Ryan Hall voiced his support in more casual language, tweeting about the selection soon after it was announced.
“Pretty stoked to be running 2016 Olympic Trials marathon in my childhood ‘backyard’ in LA,” he wrote. “Crowd support should be unreal.”
“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