Los Angeles to host 2016 Olympic Team Trials For Men's and Women's Marathon
by on Wednesday, January 29, 2014  (3 comments)

USATF press release below. I'll add comments later today on this.

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LOS ANGELES -The City of Los Angeles will host the Women's and Men's 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon, USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA MARATHON LLC announced Wednesday.

The 2016 Olympic Trials will be held Feb. 13, 2016. With separate starts, the men's and women's races both will be carried in their entirety on NBC.

"We are thrilled with what Los Angeles will provide to our athletes, the Olympic movement and the sport of long distance running by hosting this event," USATF CEO Max Siegel said. "With television coverage on NBC and incredible public and private support for the race in one of the world's biggest media markets, everything is in place to continue to elevate the Olympic Trials and give our athletes a platform on which they can truly shine."

"I'm happy and honored USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic Committee have chosen Los Angeles as host city for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "With its iconic landmarks and decades of experience hosting world class sporting events, Los Angeles is the ideal location for America's elite marathoners to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil."

"The U.S. Olympic Committee is pleased to be returning to Los Angeles with this amazing event," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. "As the host of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, Los Angeles has a tremendous Olympic legacy and L.A.'s status as a global center of sport and culture make it an exceptional host for the Olympic Trials."

Making history

In winning the bid, LA MARATHON LLC proposed a February race date that accommodates an NBC broadcast and ensures athletes optimal time to recover should they choose to run in the 2016 Olympic Trials for Track & Field in June. The LA Marathon will follow a day later, on Feb. 14, 2016, providing a weekend festival that celebrates road racing on all levels.

"Securing the privilege of hosting the Olympic Trials Marathon could not have been accomplished without the tireless partnership and commitment from business and civic leaders across Los Angeles, including the LA Sports Council," said Tracey Russell, CEO of LA MARATHON LLC. "It truly seems appropriate that today, some 30 years after Joan Benoit Samuelson's 1984 triumph in the first Olympic women's marathon here in this city, we're announcing once again that America's Olympic marathoners will create history and find glory on the streets of Los Angeles. By securing the Olympic Trials, Los Angeles is now set to deliver this city's biggest running weekend since that iconic victory, providing our LA Marathon participants and fans with a rare opportunity to be part of an Olympic Trials celebration."

"Congratulations to Mayor Garcetti, to our team at LA MARATHON LLC, and to all of our partners involved in the 2016 Olympic Trials bid," said Frank McCourt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McCourt Global, who in 2008 acquired the operating rights to the LA Marathon. "Today's announcement clearly illustrates the positive impact that smart people and effective public-private partnerships can deliver for the community and for the sports we're passionate about. We hope that today marks the start of a very long and productive relationship between LA MARATHON LLC and USA Track & Field."

National tour

Hosting the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles continues a national tour for the event: In 2004, the women's Olympic Trials were in St. Louis and men's in Birmingham, Ala.; the 2008 Olympic Trials were held in Boston (women) and New York (men); and 2012 saw both races together for the first time in Houston. USATF entertained bids for the 2016 Olympic Trials from three cities: Cincinnati, Houston and Los Angeles.

"Houston did a phenomenal job hosting the first combined men's and women's marathon Olympic Trials in 2012," Siegel said. "In Los Angeles, we will continue to grow that model and help elevate the excitement for the Olympic Trials throughout the country."

Start times and specifics on the criterium courses for both the men's and women's races will be determined in coming months.
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USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country's #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.

LA MARATHON LLC is a leading U.S. running organization dedicated to inspiring the athlete in every runner and connecting communities through health and fitness. The LA Marathon is among the largest marathons in the country with more than 25,000 participants, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of spectators. The "Stadium to the Sea" course, starting at Dodger Stadium and finishing near the Santa Monica Pier, is one of the most scenic in the world, taking runners on a tour of Los Angeles past every major landmark. The race has been named Best Big City Race by Runner's World.

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3 comments
Ryan

Thoughts on this:

Some people are excited about the fact that the Olympic Trials is going to a major media market. Others are saying that it will be swamped by other stories in a city with so much going on. I don't recall a big difference between media coverage in New York compared to the Olympic Trials (Birmingham and Houston) before and after that could be attributed to the race being held in New York. The media that is going to cover the Olympic Trials will be there whether it's Los Angeles, New York, Birmingham or Wausau, Wisconsin. The media that isn't going to be there won't go just because the Olympic Trials is there. Some local media will cover it but this isn't going to raise the bar on coverage.

However, I do like the changing locations. Move the Olympic Trials around some and let the casual running fans of different cities go to an Olympic Trials. Maybe a couple will get more into being a fan of running if they get first hand exposure. When I went to St. Louis, I met some locals I guarantee wouldn't have cared less about that race if it were in a different city. They were there because they were runners and this major running event was going on essentially in their back yards. If a few of them kept following running, that's a good thing for the sport. Moving the Olympic Trials around gives America's top long distance runners exposure to more casual running fans. I don't see how that can be a bad thing.

As for Los Angeles specifically, I expect they will do a very good job. I think it was a good choice.

I do like the date. February 13th makes it late enough that runners can do a fall marathon and have enough time to bounce back for the Trials. Obviously, Meb proved January wasn't too early for everyone in 2012 but that date was pushing it. At the same time, it gives enough time for a complete training cycle between the Trials and the Olympics. It also gives athletes who didn't qualify enough time to try to qualify in the track if they choose. Personally, I think February is about the best timeframe one could ask for.

So what do you think? I'd love to hear thoughts from others on both the location and date choices.

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Andrew A.

I see it as a progressive step for the sport. Houston again would have been fine, though I would have seen it as a possible opportunity missed. You mention St. Louis and Birmingham, I can remember when all we had were Columbia and Pittsburgh! Putting the races on criterium style courses was progress. Taking the trials from smaller venues like St. Louis and Birmingham to big cities like Boston and NYC was progress. Staging both women's and men's races at a single venue in a major city like Houston was progress again. Going to LA for the next one represents further progress. Not knowing the layout of LA, I think it would be cool if the course they use allows a start and/or at least finish in the LA Coliseum.

Staging these races in a place like LA (rather than Wausau, St. Louis, or even Boston or Houston) you just naturally have a better selection of media production staff that wants to do the job and is either there on the ground already or would be willing to fly to LA for the event. When you consider that the LA marathon OT is intended to be used in a bid to bring the OG back to LA, that's a guarantee that the bar will necessarily be raised for coverage. It's not just about the race broadcast and reporting itself -- though it's definitely largely about that -- it's about how the race is presented in the lead-up, as well, the hype that draws the eyes to screens that morning. You just get access to a lot more and better media resources in LA than you would in Houston. Race organizers have a better selection of promotional partners in LA, it's the home base of the showbiz industry. The city of LA -- all of SoCal -- will know that the OT races take place on 02-13-16. I imagine we'll see a good bit of promotion on NBC prior to the race, as well. Houston might have been able to do all of that, as well, and perhaps would have even moved their race date out of the thick of the NFL playoffs - though I doubt it. LA seemed to make a major concession to move their race up a month and to me the biggest difference is that the coverage will not be lost amid another major sporting event - in the case of LA's usual race date, March Madness.

On the timing of the races relative to other marathons or the track OT, I don't see it as that big of a factor. Even if it were in January again, those who are good enough to make the team should have little problem recovering from Chicago, Berlin, or NYC. The only people you can really make a case for being hurt by the date in 2012 were those who were coming off of significant downtime -- Ritz and Goucher (and the latter was not hurt to the degree of missing out on making the team) -- which you can't plan a race date for anyway. If you're ever going to quibble that January is too early or March is too late, then you'll likely also quibble (and many tried) that having the OT at NYCM in November could force runners to choose between a spring marathon payday (Boston, London, Tokyo) and a good, long recovery and build-up to the OG marathon. When these athletes are racing two or three marathons per year, an OT marathon at almost any point in the calendar will tend to preclude or abbreviate one marathon season or another. Also, anyone who is going to be a marathon medal contender in Rio will have to have a complete focus on the marathon (see: Meb), making the team in that event becomes their only option and the timing of the race relative to the track OT is irrelevant. The date may ultimately be helpful, yet otherwise it's essentially a minor inconvenience at worst. Almost as a consolation, the winning bid sets up the half at Houston in 2016 as one beast of a tune-up race.

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Ryan

As always Andrew, interesting thoughts.

Columbia and Pittsburgh. I do remember that. So glad they moved away from that. Not that those cities were bad hosts but I do think, at the very least, getting other cities involved was a good move. What do you think of moving it around like they have recently? Personally, I think that's a good move. Oh, to finish at the Coliseum. They have to. It just makes so much sense.

I guess I never considered the quality of the local media talent. No matter where the race is held, the local talent will be drawn upon to produce the coverage and you have much more local talent in the LA area than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Also, interesting point about LA using this as a building block in a bid for the Olympics.

As for the timing aspect, great point about mid-February being a downtime between major events in the major American sports. Butting heads against the NFL playoffs or March Madness is bound to not go well for distance running. Maybe mid-February is a natural fit for the Trials for that reason alone. As for scheduling for the runners, I still think February is the best alternative for them, though your point about it maybe not being as significant is well taken. Between those two factors of best for the athletes and falling between major sporting events, I do think mid-February is the best option.

I think it says a lot that the LA Marathon was willing to change their date to coincide with what I feel is the best scheduling fit for the Olympic Trials. I think they will do a great job hosting the Trials marathon.

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