Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Women's Olympic Marathon - Should Desi Have Ran?


First, keep the Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K Race reports coming!! I’ll admit, the 140 or so emails that are in my inbox right now are more overwhelming than a diabetic in a Duncan Donuts, but I’ll eventually get through them and post embarrassing pictures of people pooping their pants the winners of the sweet prizes.

So, in-between working with my boss out of town, running 6x a week, I still have a pretty healthy Olympic habit.  The Olympics are my drug, and I take them in each day with all of their shaved chest, spandex wearing, double backflip landing glory.  Glory to the Olympics, gold medals be thy name!! Wait, isn’t there a bad story about worshiping gold? Essentially, with all of the (delayed) Olympic coverage I’m getting WAY less sleep.  Who says you need 8 hours of sleep!? I get 2 hours and the only side effect is that I can’t seem to focus on I really like kittens sometimes. And baby duckies.  They’re just so fluffy!



This weekend was the Women’s Marathon.  The Americans were Kara Goucher (yay!), Shalane Flanagan (yay!) and Desi Davila (also yay!).  Kara and Shalane finished in 11th and 10th respectively which honestly was a bit below both of their expectations.  Shalane should have been top 5 and Kara top 10.  Desi however was a different story.

Desi has been battling a hip flexor injury.  She said that she had been having issues with it for a few weeks but was determined to start the Olympic Marathon.  During the race she made it 2.2 miles.

So, the question is – should Desi have dropped out and let the alternate, Amy Hastings, have a crack at finishing the race?  It’s a tough call for sure.

On the “yes she should have dropped” side:

  • It is basically Desi’s job to know her body. During the race, she ran for around 13 minutes.  The fact that she only lasted that long (granted, she stopped at the end of a convenient 2.2 mile loop) tells me that she knew that she wasn’t finishing that race when she started.
  • Amy is a 2:27 marathoner so certainly not “slow”
  • The reason to run the Olympics is to represent you and your country to the best of their abilities.  I’m not sure that Desi did that.


On the “no, she should have stayed in” side:

  • Desi earned the spot. She beat Amy in the trials fair and square.
  • While Amy is a fast runner, she would not be a medal contender.  Desi’s PR is 2:22 – faster than the gold medalist this year.  Desi is FAST.
  • Represented her country in the best way she could - the "I don't take no for an answer" that give Americans both a good and bad name.


I honestly think that she was well within her rights to start – she earned it.  But, I can certainly see both sides of the story...and would NOT have wanted to be in Amy Hasting’s room (she qualified in the 10,000m) when the marathon was ran!

What do you think?  Should she have ran knowing that she would not finish?  You can bet your fish and chips that if I qualified, I'd be on that starting line even if I had to strap some of those upside down question mark artificial legs to my body to finish!

 

20 comments:

Maggie Wolff said...

Would Amy have even run the marathon, or stuck with her plans to run the 10K? This article claims that there was no real alternate, so it was either start it and see how it goes, or have no one start in her spot.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120806/OPINION03/208060341

Pam said...

I think she owed it to herself to try. You've GOTTA try. I know it's nowhere near the same thing, but when I lined up at the start of my first marathon, with my knee issue I had no idea if I'd finish either. Some days the pain was tolerable, other days it was practically debilitating. You toe the line and you hope for the best.

Matt said...

Amy Hastings would not have run the marathon, and neither would have Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (the 2nd alternate) since they were both in the 10,000m.

Laura said...

If there was someone else who could have run the whole thing (since it appears from previous comments that there wasn't an alternate), she ABSOLUTELY should have not started. But in light of those comments, now I don't see a problem with her starting it. However, I don't think it gave any positive reflection on the US - starting and not finishing is not any gutsier than not starting, in my book.

Adam Ricklefs said...

Maggie - the article says that she told her family weeks before the marathon that things weren't going well. That is plenty of time to give notice to the alternates (who were signed up for the 10K) to modify slightly for marathon. The training is actually very similar for both (in fact, most Olympic marathoners run a 10K flat out 3 weeks before the marathon). It seems that the marathon is the more "glamorous" race as people use that as a landing spot for their career - my words, not anyone elses

Gracie said...

I love Davila but I kind of thought the same thing: why not let Hastings have a crack? But who knows if Hastings was even remotely ready. This wouldn't have been a race she was trained for.

Missy said...

We didn't have anyone to take her place since Hastings wasn't in marathon shape and she deserved the experience, even if it was only for 13mins.

Anonymous said...

Americans don't know how to yield.

Jen said...

I am not of the "just do it even if you might not finish or be your best" camp. So I'd agree with you, Adam. I understand wanting the glory but sometimes you must accept the reality, be humble, and let others have an opportunity if you're certain that you cannot or will not complete.

Char said...

One of the Aussie girls had hip issues too and possibly should have pulled out. The only difference was that we don't have the depth of running talent that you have in the States so it would have been a little harder to find a replacement of quality. I'm not sure there's an easy answer. I don't know that I'd have given up being on the starting line at the Olympics if I was given a chance.

Sue's Ramblings said...

Oh I really don't know. Really. I can see and understand both sides of the argument but I still can't lean to one. Desi is actually my fav of the 3 ladies (all of them are awesome) and it was such a bummer she couldn't run.

Scallywag said...

Its so tough to call- your right if I had qualified I would want to at least start butttt if one of my teammates would have gotten to compete and I KNEW I wasnt going to get far never mind finish I think I would have given the place up to her. I THINK. Not 100% sure either way!

essayem said...

Agreeing with the others who are saying Amy Hastings/Janet Cherbon Bawcom would not have been able to run, even Deena Kastor wouldn't have been available due to injury. "Weeks" really isn't enough time for any of them to have switched gears from their focus on the new races. That can be argued back and forth but it's the Olympics, and unless they release the details, we really don't know what their training plan is. That said, it IS disappointing that Desi only got 2.2 miles in - I expected her to drop out, but definitely not that soon.

Nelly said...

I think Desi made the right call to give it a go, she earned that spot with a great race at the trials. If she hadn't of run, she would always be wondering what might have been. If she was healthy I think she had a shot at a medal. I was really bummed when I heard she was injured.

Layla said...

It looks like most people have pointed out that Amy Hastings wouldn't have run, anyway, since she was doing the 10K. Amy was also Desi's roommate in London, so she knew what was going on -- and she came to Desi's defense on Twitter when there was an incorrect press release issued saying that Desi wasn't going to run.

Half-Crazed Runner said...

So many training hours, so much dedication. Only Desi and her coach knew what the best decision was - and I guess they chose it. I was upset for Shalane and Kara. So much running talent, so many hours training & denying self-interests. I hope they are proud of their accomplishments. We all are!

Meghan said...

AMERICA!!!!! I vote country over individual (if we would have had a well trained for the event back up).

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

When watching I was okay with her starting but didn't even stop and think of the alternatives. Having hip issues I can tell when they are getting better, holding course, or getting worse. I am sure Desi had a good idea too and it would have been nice for her to give the alternatives a heads-up and give them the chance to say their thoughts. But hey, perhaps she did and perhaps they were okay with her giving it a try. We really don't know what was going on and have to trust Desi did make the best decision. I still support her completely.

RunningLaur said...

One last point that doesn't seem to have been pointed out: in the interviews that I saw with Desi, she said that in the realm of pro-running / pro-athletes / Olympians, she wouldn't have officially been considered an Olympian until she crossed the starting line, she only would have made the Olympic team.

I know it seems like semantics, but there's a really good chance that she would have been paid differently had she not started, would have to be marketed to future races/sponsors differently, and her contracts with Brooks or other sponsors might have major penalties built into them if she sits out a race (she got all sorts of press that Brooks, her coaches, the Michigan Distance Project, etc wouldn't have gotten otherwise). The world of individually sponsored athletes can get incredibly complex that way!

LifeisaRun said...

Definitely see both sides....thinking about it if I were in Desi's shoes ya, I probably would have started the marathon too. Tough call, but it was her's to make!