asics Greenville Track Club-ELITE - a post-collegiate, Olympic-development program
ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE had three athletes compete in the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon on Saturday in Los Angeles, CA. On a very warm day, Mark Leininger placed 60th among the 105 men finishers with a time of 2:28:17. It was Mark's first marathon after qualifying with a 1:04:27 Half Marathon in early January of this year. He followed his coaches instructions and started slowly near the back of the starting field of 166 of the country's best distance runners. Due to the hot temperatures and intense sun, 61 men did not complete the race.
Mark's teammate, Ricky Flynn, had to scratch on the previous day due to a nagging leg injury. It would have been only Flynn's second marathon as his first was his 12th place finish in the 2012 USA Olympic Trials in Houston, TX.
Nicole DiMercurio and Dylan Hassett both were also competing in their first marathon after qualifying with sub 1:15:00 times at the Jax Bank Half Marathon in Jacksonville, FL back in early January (same race as Leininger qualified). Both women covered the first seven miles at approximately 6:00 per mile pace before suffering over the final half of the race. Although slowing considerably, both women completed the distance. DiMercurio finished 82nd with a time of 2:52:10, while Hassett was 113th in 2:57:46. Of the 198 women who started, 149 finished.
Due to the live television broadcast by NBC, the men's race started at 10:06 am and the women's at 10:22 am. The course consisted of one 2.2-mile loop through downtown LA, followed by four circuits of a 6-mile loop that ran up and down Figuoria Street and circled through the University of Southern California campus and by the LA Coliseum. After the initial short loop downtown there was very little respite from from the intense sun as the temperatures reached the mid 70s.
"It was a difficult day for many of the athletes out there," commented ASICS GTC-ELITE director Mike Caldwell. "As one of my coaching friends aptly described it, 'There was carnage everywhere.' Our goal was to qualify for the USA Olympic Trials and we had four athletes achieve that lofty goal. Although we had modest expectations since our athletes are very young for the marathon, but the conditions did not allow our athletes to run the times we know they are capable of. However, we look at it as a positive learning experience that will help each one of them in their future running careers. They were able to line up with the best in the USA."
GTC-ELITE is sponsored by ASICS, the 44-year old Greenville Track Club, Performance Therapy, Greenville Health System's North Greenville Hospital, ScanSource, Soleus Running Watches, Boston Bill Sunglasses, Roll Recovery, The TD Bank Foundation, The Kroc Center, Carolina Spine and Rehab, The ATI Running Academy, ElliptiGO, the Bare Minimum Track Club and generous individual contributors.