U.S. OLYMPIC MARATHON TRIALS
When: Saturday, 8 a.m. men's start, 8:15 a.m. women's start Where: Houston TV: 2-4 p.m. on Ch. 11 (delayed coverage)
What's at stake: The top three men and top three women will represent the U.S. at this summer's Olympic Games in London. The men's and women's winners also will receive $50,000 each from a total purse of $250,000.
The course: The 26.2-mile race begins with a 2.2-mile loop through downtown Houston, followed by three 8-mile loops over flat terrain.
The favorites: Ryan Hall, who finished 10th in the 2008 Olympic marathon, has the top qualifying time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 58 seconds -- the fastest qualifying time in trials history. Other top contenders in the men's race include 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (2:09:13) and 2008 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein (2:10:00). The fastest women's qualifier is Desiree Davila, whose 2:22:38 at the 2011 Boston Marathon is the best time ever for an American woman in that race. Former Duluth resident Kara Goucher finished shortly behind her in 2:24:52, the second-best qualifying time.
The Minnesotans: Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle and Katie McGregor headline a group of 18 runners who list Minnesota as their home state, plus several more with local ties. Lehmkuhle is the eighth-fastest men's qualifier (2:12:34), while McGregor ranks 10th among the women (2:31:01). Other top Minnesota men include Matt Gabrielson (2:13:28), Andrew Carlson (1:02:21, half marathon), Josh Moen (1:02:53, half marathon) and Luke Watson (2:15:29). Top qualifiers among Minnesota women include Jen Houck (2:33:00), Meghan Peyton (1:13:56, half marathon) and Jenna Boren (2:40:45).