"This was my fifth year. I keep coming back because of the quality of the experience. I live in the area and have come to expect the best. All aspects of this race are superior."
Monday, May 9, 2011
Preview of the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon: Strong women’s field looks to Olympic Trials
The story among invited runners at the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon may well be the Olympic dreams of an unusually large and competitive women’s field. It could make for an interesting race – for prize money at the May 29 marathon and for a spot at the starting line of the Olympic Trials at the Chevron Houston Marathon, January 14, 2012.
“We have almost twice as many invited women as men – a reversal of the usual situation,” said invited runners coordinator Zeke Zucker. “And they’ve got their sights set on the Olympic Trials.”
As of early May, Zucker has confirmed 27 women among the marathon’s invited ranks, compared with 15 men. While a few of the men have a shot at Olympic Trials qualifying as well, Zucker believes that no less than eight of the women are bona fide contenders to be at the starting line for the Trials.
The women are shooting for a “B standard” Trials qualifying time of 2:46 which earns them a spot at the starting line – and for a few the “A Standard” of 2:39, which earns an all-expense paid trip to the competition. Two of the women signed up for this year’s event have already bested 2:46:
- Leading the field is four-time KeyBank Vermont City Marathon champion Heidi Westover, who in 2009 set the women’s course record with a blazing 2:35:02, and in 2010 posted a 2:40:04. The New Hampshire resident has already qualified for the Trials six times; four times for marathon finishes, including the 2010 Key Bank Vermont City Marathon, and twice by virtue of half marathons of 1:12:59 and 1:13:25. Her most recent qualifier was at the Boston Marathon last month, where her 2:39:14 brought her within 15 seconds of achieving an A-standard.
- Westerling’s closest challenger is likely to be Christine Ramsey from Maryland, who has a marathon best time of 2:44:37.
The cream of the crop among the Masters women, is 43-year-old Nathalie Goyer. Goyer placed 3rd overall in Vermont last year with an impressive time of 2:49:51. A resident of Montreal, Canada, Goyer won’t be competing for the U.S. Olympic Trials – but she should be mixing it up with the runners who are hoping for qualifying marks.
Other women to watch are listed below.
The men’s field
The men’s field has its share of compelling stories – many with local flavor, and a few with a reasonable shot at hitting the men’s qualifying standard of 2:19. (Men have only one qualifying standard for marathon, though they can also get into the trials with a half-marathon time of 1:05 or better or a 10K time of 28:30 or better.) Men to watch include:
- Teage O’Connor of Burlington who ran a 2:23:26 in Chicago in 2009. You’ll likely recognize Teage by his “minimalist” footwear.
- Brent Martin of Ohio, who has run a 2:23:19 (Chicago, 2009), but is recovering from an injury.
- Jonathan Severy, a UVM medical student and former University of Colorado star who ran a 1:07 half marathon as part of a two-person team last year. Severy has high hopes for his marathon debut at the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon.
Other men to watch are listed below.
As in most years, Zucker is assembling a competitive field highlighting not the well-known professional runners, but rather solid athletes who generally also have day jobs. Zucker doesn’t encourage overtures from professional runners who are usually much faster than the marathon’s desired field. Instead, he lures solid runners like this year’s group of Olympic Trial hopefuls with incentives ranging from free entry to travel and lodging expenses, depending on the runner’s credentials.
“Our goal is to assemble a field where there's less disparity between the slower Invited Runners and the fastest of the 'Citizen' runners, such that it's basically seamless,” said Zucker. “Having a pack of superfast runners way out ahead of everyone is rather boring. This formula sometimes makes for a surprise when a runner who isn't on the invited list takes the lead – as was the case in 2005, when Chris Juarez appeared from off the radar screen to win. We also strive to bring in athletes with approximately equal running credentials, to ensure lively and exciting competition along the entire race route. “
2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon Invited Runners to watch (as of May 9, 2011)
Women to watch:
- Heidi Westover,NH, PR: 2:35:02
- Christine Ramsey, MD, 2:44:37
- Erin Ward, MN, 2:48
- Caroline Bjune, MA, 2:49:14
- Elizabeth Herndon, PA, 2:49:17
- Tammie Robie NH, 2:49:32
- Nathalie Goyer, MTL, QC, 2:49:51
- Tracy Joslin, VT, 2:50
- Ashley Gore, MA, 2:51
- Jodie Conway, MA, 1:19:14 half marathon
Men to watch:
- Brent Martin, OH, 2:23:19
- Teage O’Connor, VT, 2:23:26
- Dan Vassallo, MA, 2:25:06
- Chris Peverada, OH STATE, 2:26:23
- Michael McGrane, MA STATE, 2:32:48
- Drew Best, MA, 2:34:03
- Jonathan Severy, VT, 1:07 half marathon
- Mike Dixon, NJ, 1:08:54 half marathon
- Ryan Robitaille, VT, 1:11:25 half marathon