This past weekend I was fortunate to get an in depth, up-close-and-personal perspective at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trial; seeing both starts and finishes for both men's and women's races as well as serve as an athlete escort.
The start was especially intense and you could feel it in the air and see it in the athlete 's faces. After the tedious prestart moments, at the end of the day it was down to 3. I will elaborate more on the. Women 's race because I had more time with "backstage" as a volunteer for the women's race.
I did get to see a bit of her competitive style, as all 3 elite women had starkly different approaches. Please note that the following contains merely my 100% opinion and analysis.
Our aforementioned trials champ. Flanagan appeared composed yet ready to attack if needed-definitely very mentally tough but with a touch of her own mystique and grace.
Speaking of mentally tough, you don't get any tougher than Ms. Davila, a Hansons-Brooks runner. she appeared relaxed before, during, and after the event was over. From what I saw of her performance, her countenance never changed. She was quoted by emphasizing execution of an "honest, fast, race". Ask and you shall receive. The last few miles were intriguing as all 3 eventual teammates kept the victory anybody's guess.
Honesty was written all over Kara Goucher's face for a large portion of the race. It was apparent she wanted to make the team very badly and was prepared to hurt for it. After coming back from injury, she had some catching up to d training wise and I was thoroughly with her honest display of toughness, genuine emotion, and determination. Off the record, I found her very easy to talk to and just like you and I. Aside from her world-class speed, I found her to be just like any other runner girl just wanting to improve and succeed. And she really likes hamburgers-as I found out after the race!
Despite very different styles in these competitors, they also have some things in common. Along with the obvious talent and work ethic, there were some common threads that I find in athletes among "the best of the best"; as these were on full display on Saturday:
- An "extra gear"-when it counts, it can be dialed in.
- Willingness to be uncomfortable-and stay there. Elite marathoners train and are great at this.
- A focus on execution versus emotion. These athletes seemed to put their emotional needs aside for a couple hours; saving it all for after the finish.