asics Greenville Track Club-ELITE - a post-collegiate, Olympic-development program
ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE's Mark Leininger traveled to Las Vegas, NV in search of a qualifying time for the 2016 USA Olympic Marathon Trials. The Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon has been known to be suitable for fairly fast times as the course runs up and down "The Strip." However high winds, including gusts up to 40 mph, hampered all of the runners and made fast times only unobtainable dreams.
Leininger passed 5K, with the wind at his back, in 15:39 and was right on the sub-5:00 per mile needed to qualify (1:05:00). But after passing 10K in 31:11 (5:02 pace) he needed to slightly increase his pace. However, soon the course turned and headed back south and directly into the strong headwinds slowing all of the runners considerably. Winner Jeffery Eggleston, one of the top marathoners in the country commented, "It was like running into a wall." Many runners had to dodge flying cups, cardboard and even traffic cones as the wind hurled the objects northward.
Leininger could only manage a time of 1:10:06 after slowing to a crawl over the final 5K into the wind. That was good for 20th place among the 23,000 finishers, but was extremely disappointing for the former American University runner. "The day before Mark departed for Vegas, we saw the forecast for high winds, but hoped that they wouldn't be as strong as they were," commented Coach Mike Caldwell. "We believe Mark was, and is, ready to run that fast, but you can't control the weather. He'll get another shot at the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon in early January."
GTC-ELITE is sponsored by ASICS, the 43-year old Greenville Track Club, Performance Therapy, Greenville Health System's North Greenville Hospital, ScanSource, Soleus Running Watches, Boston Bill Sunglasses, The TD Bank Foundation, The Kroc Center, Carolina Spine and Rehab, The Proaxis Running Academy, ElliptiGO, the Bare Minimum Track Club and generous individual contributors.