25 year-old Ryan Hall won the Olympic Trials Marathon this morning in New York City with a trials record time of 2:09:02. This was a special multi-lap course around Central Park, not the same route as will be taken for Sunday’s NYC Marathon. Hall looked fluid and at ease the entire race, breaking away from the lead pack around 18 miles in. Dathan Ritzenhein was second in 2:11:07 and in third, Brian Sell in 2:11:40. Favorite and 2004 silver medalist Meb Keflezighi finished a few places back while heavyweights Alan Culpepper and Abdi Abdirahman both DNFed. While the top three make the 2008 Olympic Marathon Team, there is an interesting twist. Ritz has publicly stated that if he makes the Olympic team in the 10000 meter track trials, he will run the 10000 in favor of the marathon. This would open the door to fourth place finisher and alternate, Khalid Khannouchi, arguably the best marathoner of all time, to join the team. Khannouchi was the first man to run sub 2:06, and held the world marathon best twice before those records were eclipsed by Kenyan Paul Tergat and most recently Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie. It should be noted that Khalid was victorious against one of the greatest marathon fields of all time, the 2002 London Marathon, where he beat both Tergat and Geb and reset his own world record to 2:05:38 in the process.
I have no doubt that Hall could have easily eclipsed 2:09 had he wanted to, but was clearly enjoying the final mile, complete with high-fives and arm-pumps. He was not in the position of any of these folks. The Central Park course is not a fast course and some consider it to be a couple minutes slow compared to the flat record courses such as Berlin and London. With his dominant performance and easy stride, Hall appears to be an honest medal contender for the 2008 games.