Dreamers Wanted

I’m looking for a few good women. Women who are attempting something that is a longshot, if not in all probability impossible.

Approximately 200 American women are able to run a marathon fast enough to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials, a race that rolls around only once every four years and whose top three finishers will make up this country’s Olympic Marathon team.

Most of these women are young, meaning in their 20s and 30s. But every year a handful of them 40 or older make it into the race. In 2008 there were 14 such women, including a few notable past Olympians: Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Colleen De Reuck and Linda Somers-Smith. For 2012, the USA Track and Field Association has lowered the standard by a minute from 2:47 to 2:46. Yeah. This time it’s going to be even harder.

Here’s who’s in so far for 2012. Are you fortyish and trying to get on this list? Are you willing to talk about it? If so, I’d really like to hear from you: raceslikeagirl@optonline.net

About the project

I will be doing a series of interviews with masters women marathoners who are attempting to qualify for 2012. The basic criteria for my interviewees are that you:

  • Are or will be at least 40 years of age by the 2012 Houston Trials date.
  • Have not previously qualified for an Olympic trials race.
  • Have not yet qualified for the 2012 trials.

I started posting queries about this just yesterday, thinking I’d be lucky to find one or two beyond the one candidate I had already. As it turns out (much to my delight), there are more of you out there who fit the above criteria than I’d have thought. You are coming out of the woodwork, but I’m continuing to look. This could be quite an extensive series.

If you fit the above criteria, please get in touch with me. I’ve heard from one or two people who don’t fit them all, primarily former qualifiers who are going for it again. I’m open to including them as well for a more rounded view. But the one common criterion I’m insisting on is age (first bullet point above).

I would like the interviews to be equal parts inspiration, personal observation and practical knowledge. To avoid a bunch of generic interviews, I will plan to get some background information from you, which I’ll use to put together some questions customized to your background, current status, etc. You’ll have your choice of doing the interview via email or over the phone as a podcast.

This is a personal project that I fully expect will be published on my blog (then probably picked up by some running blog aggregators). However, I’m also exploring a few other potential outlets that might garner a bigger audience (which wouldn’t be saying much).

While that would be nice, I’m not going to sit on these interviews should the process of working with other media outlets mean a long wait time between interview and distribution. I want these interviews to see the light of day sooner rather than later and I’m proceeding with them regardless.

Pass it on.

9 Responses

  1. I will be VERY interested to read these interviews. In fact, if you get a huge response I’m happy to help with the project. Email me if you have the need…. 🙂

  2. I don’t meet the master’s part, but I am furiously working my butt off to try and make it. Good luck to everyone else dreaming this dream … hopefully I will see you all there!

    Also, happy to help with this if I can in some way.

  3. You guys are so sweet to offer to help. I can’t think of how to take you up on it at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I won’t eventually. One idea I had is that eventually we’ll have a little informal network of Houston hopefuls, at least among the over 40 set. But that’s easy enough to expand, which brings me to my next idea…

    A lot of people work together to make a time (meaning they run their target race in a group). Maybe it’s time to explore setting up a site dedicated to connecting those people for racing, training or whathaveyou. Someone tried this awhile back, but the site’s been abandoned and now has wild dogs in the form of a horrible third-rate pharma site spammer roaming its premises:

    Maybe you’d like to chase out the riff raff and get it going again? I’ve no clue who “owns” it or how you’d find out.

  4. Thats a nice project and fast run time.s.
    Goodluck whit the women and interviews.

  5. Great idea. I’d like to read the interviews too. I wonder if any 40+ women will try and qualify via the half marathon time? 1:15 is tough, but multiple attempts are possible.

    • Ewen, I doubt it, but it’s something I’ll probably ask some of the faster women. A 1:15 half is roughly equivalent to a sub 2:37 full. If one is already skirting the edges of one’s capabilities to drop a 2:46, that’s a huge spread to make up. But who knows — maybe there are some people who trend toward very fast half marathons.

  6. […] ask questions and write about the answers. I’m already flailing down this road with my Houston Hopefuls project with completely unwarranted confidence. Why stop there? I figured I’d give this a […]

  7. Hello…I came across this post quite by accident. Serendipity, I guess. Anyway, I am the guy who initially set up the 2012 OTM site on Ning. If there is anyone out there who would like to take a more active role in the site, I would be happy to open up the admin side to them. Just contact me at 2012otm@gmail.com.

    BTW, the project looks great. My wife is only 34 (36 by 2012 trials), so she doesn’t quite fit your criteria. She’s got low-2:40 potential, but is around 3:00 right now as a mother of two, and in medical school. If you expand the project or are looking for another story, keep her in mind.


    • Eric, thanks for waving. I’m going to alert some others to this message. I don’t have time to fiddle with the OTM site, but maybe they do. Good luck to your wife — she sounds like a talented runner.

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