PACIFIC ASSOCIATION/USATF WOMEN WILL CONTEND
FOR TOP SPOTS AT U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM TRIALS –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Winitz
Pacific Association/USATF Communications
Feature Stories and News Manager
Tel: (650) 948-0618 Direct
Russell and Lewy-Boulet Record Successful Tune-Ups at Stanford
Note to Editors: A list of all 18 PA/USATF qualifiers, including cities
of residence, appears at the end of this release.
FOLSOM, Calif. – April 7, 2008 – When approximately 125 women line up for
the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon in Boston, Mass. on
Sunday, April 20, several Pacific Association/USA Track & Field
(PA/USATF) athletes will be among the top contenders favored to earn a
spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. The top three finishers in the Trials race
will qualify for the 2008 U.S. women’s Olympic marathon team going to
Beijing, China, provided each has achieved the Olympic “A” qualification
standard of 2 hours, 37 minutes or faster. Athletes at the Trials, which
will run the day before the 112th Boston Marathon, will compete for
$260,000 in prize money and bonuses.
PA/USATF athletes Blake Russell (Pacific Grove, Calif.) and Magdalena
Lewy-Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at
the 2004 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis — the
bridesmaid spots for fulfilling their Olympic dreams. Both athletes
return to the 2008 Trials with unfinished business. They will compete in,
perhaps, the most competitive field ever to line up for the Trials race.
Last Friday, April 4, Russell and Lewy-Boulet had successful final
tune-up outings for the Trials at the Stanford Invitational track meet.
In the 10,000-meter race at Stanford, Russell placed second in 32
minutes, 14.91 seconds. Lewy-Boulet was third in a personal record time
Kate O’Neill (Palo Alto, Calif.) is a relative newcomer to PA/USATF ranks
and to the marathon distance, but she has Olympic experience (2004) at
10,000 meters, and now has a spectacular debut marathon on her resume.
Forty-six-year-old Linda Somers Smith (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) is not
expected to contend for a team spot at the Trials. The 1996 Olympian,
however, will compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials having qualified for six
U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials races since its inaugural running in
1984. Somers Smith placed 31st in the Olympic Games marathon in Atlanta.
Russell, Lewy-Boulet, O’Neill, and Somers Smith are among a strong
contingent of PA/USATF women who have qualified for the Trials. Among the
181 U.S. women who have qualified, PA/USATF and USATF Colorado each have
18 qualifiers — tied for the most among all 57 of USATF’s
geographically-based Associations. California leads all states with 26
To qualify for the Trials, women had to record a marathon time equal to
or better than USA Track & Field’s qualifying standards: 2 hours, 39
minutes flat (“A” standard, Trials travel expenses paid) or 2:47:00 (“B”
standard, travel expenses not paid). The qualifying period for the Trials
was January 1, 2006 through March 23, 2008.
Russell, 32, ran the boldest race at the 2004 Women’s Olympic Marathon
Trials, despite the fact that it was only her second marathon. She built
a commanding early lead and held it for almost 18 miles before eventually
finishing fourth in 2:30:32 behind the top three (Colleen De Reuck, Deena
Kastor, and Jen Rhines). Russell is coached by legendary Bob Sevene
(Seaside, Calif.), who guided American standout Joan Benoit to a gold
medal in the first-ever women’s Olympic Games marathon in Los Angeles in
Russell said the nightmare of getting passed by Rhines in the final half
mile at the ’04 Trials, and missing an Olympic berth by one place, still
lingers. But training alone along the beautiful Monterey Peninsula
coastline, she has had a lot of time to reconcile her disappointment, and
plan for the future.
“I don’t think anything really went wrong four years ago. I made a few
rookie mistakes,” Russell said as she described how she ran the entire
race while taking only a couple of sips of water. “But it was one of
those days when you feel really good and you want to go with it.”
Said Sevene: “Blake was a marathon rookie in 2004. I think she would have
made the team if she took [water]. She went out too fast. But she has a
lot more experience now. I’m very pleased with her recent training.”
Russell followed her 2:30:32 Trials’ performance with a 2:29:10 personal
record at the 2005 Chicago Marathon (a time that puts her among the top
15 U.S. women ever on a non-aided course). In 2006, she picked up U.S.
national 15K and cross country long course titles. Last February, Russell
placed 6th at the USA Cross Country Championships and earned a spot on
the U.S. world cross country team, but she declined a trip to the IAAF
World Cross Country Championships to focus on her marathon trials
Sevene, who originally hails from the Boston area, believes that the
relatively flat Olympic Marathon Trials course in Boston favors runners
such as Russell who have a marathoner’s strength, plus good leg speed
honed on the track. Russell’s track credentials include a very fast
31:35.25 for 10,000 meters.
The Trials’ course, created specifically for the event, contains five
loops — an initial loop of about 2.2 miles that tours historic Boston,
followed by four loops of approximately six miles each through Boston’s
Back Bay, across the Charles River. and into Cambridge. The race starts
and finishes near the traditional Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston
“I think it’s going to be very fast provided the weather cooperates,”
said Sevene. “I’m going out on a limb and say it’s going to take a 2:28
(time) to make the team. I think it’s going to be a wonderful race.”
In 2004, for the first time at the same Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials,
three women ran sub-2:30. Among the 2008 Trials qualifiers, less than a
handful have ever run under 2:29: U.S. record holder Deena Kastor
(2:19:36), Joan Benoit Samuelson (2:21:21), 2004 Trials champion De Reuck
(2:26:35), and Marla Runyan (2:27:10). But, the history of the Marathon
Trials demonstrates that U.S. athletes rise to the occasion in
spectacular fashion. For example, at the 2004 women’s trials, 10 of the
top 15 finishers ran personal records.
“You can’t count anybody out,” said Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), the
2004 Olympic Games bronze medalist in the women’s marathon who is the
top-seeded competitor going into Boston. “You have to be prepared for
anything. There’s so much time for something to happen in the marathon.
And, you can count on everybody showing up on race day to give it their
Like Boston’s weather in April, it’s difficult to predict how a marathon
trials race will play out. For 34-year-old Magdalena Lewy-Boulet that
means sticking to a tried-and-true race plan that nabbed her an
oh-so-close fifth place at the 2004 Trials. Her coach, well-respected
Jack Daniels, oversees her preparations.
“My motivation may be different, but the way I approach the race is still
about the same,” said the former University of California Berkeley
All-American who is married to another Cal All-American, Richie Boulet.
“I want to make my (almost three-year old) son, Owen, proud. I want to
show Owen what hard work is. I’m going to run my own race, and,
hopefully, the shape I’m in will get me on the team.”
Lewy-Boulet feels that the ’08 Trials field is just as competitive, if
not more so, than four years ago. That means she will, most likely, need
to improve upon her 2:30:50 personal record that she ran at the last
Trials. Lewy-Boulet, however, has demonstrated that she knows how to peak
for big races.
Kate O’Neill is a Boston area transplant who moved to California several
years ago and trains with Team Running USA in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Last
October, she made a sensational debut on the marathon scene with a third
place 2:36:15 at an unseasonably hot LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. The
27-year-old, seven-time NCAA All-American at Yale University will have a
hometown crowd behind her in Boston. Although O’Neill’s marathon
experience is limited, her strengths make her a favored contender. In
2004, she placed third at the USA Olympic Track & Field Trials at 10,000m
and competed in the Athens Olympic Games.
For some women, simply lining up on the starting line for the 2008 U.S.
Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon will signify an “Olympic” dream
come true. For PA/USATF’s Shaluinn Fullove, a former track and field and
cross country competitor at Stanford University, qualifying for the
Trials was a remote possibility only three years ago. In the early spring
of 2005, the 30-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. resident was diagnosed with
thyroid cancer. After receiving a thyroidectomy and radiation treatments,
Fullove eventually resumed serious training. On March 3, 2008 Fullove
qualified for the Trials at the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon,
fulfilling her dream.
Who are the PA/USATF Qualifiers?
Qual. Time Name Age Residence
2:36:15 Kate O’Neill, 27, Palo Alto
2:41:05 Linda Somers Smith, 46, Arroyo Grande
2:41:14 Christine Lundy, 37, Sausalito
2:42:35 Brooke Wells, 23, San Francisco
2:42:38 Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, 34, Oakland
2:43:31 Michelle Gallagher, 22, Daly City (now resides in Flagstaff, AZ)
2:43:50 Giovanna Mandy, 29, Truckee
2:44:16 Lisbet Sunshine, 44, San Francisco
2:45:27 Caroline Annis, 27, San Francisco
2:45:34 Jill Boaz, 41, Los Osos
2:45:56 Midori Sperandeo, 41, Gold River (now resides in Laguna Niguel)
2:46:03 Allison Kerr, 32, Vacaville
2:46:04 Shaluinn Fullove, 30, Palo Alto
2:46:08 Betsy Keever, 33, San Francisco
2:46:20 Jennifer Pfeifer, 36, Folsom
2:46:30 Mary Coordt, 38, Elk Grove
2:46:53 Megan Daly, 29, Menlo Park
32:31.90 Blake Russell, 32, Pacific Grove (track)
For more information about the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women’s
Marathon, visit usatf.org/events/2008/OlympicTrials-Marathon-Women/.
Also, the Boston Athletic Association (the Local Organizing Committee for
the Trials) has an extensive web site at bostontrials2008.com.
The Pacific Association is the largest member association of USA Track &
Field (USATF). We serve northern California and northwestern Nevada.
USATF is the National Governing Body for track and field, long distance
running, and race walking in the United States. For more information
about the Pacific Association, visit our web site at pausatf.org.
# # #