It's not only the USA Half Marathon that they're holding in Houston this weekend. Events there also include the Chevron Houston Marathon which, thanks to a unique athlete support program and a fast course (but, perehaps, muggy conditions), has drawn a number of Olympic Marathon Trails hopefuls... many of them Minnesotans!
Serious post-collegiate distance running at levels below that of, say, Team USA Minnesota or Michigan's Hanson's Brooks Distance Project can be a lonely pursuit. I've always had a special respect for these lone athletes chasing an Olympic — or at least Olympic Trials — dream. I'm glad to see the Houston folks stepping up for them in the way they are.
Among the large group of such runners toeing the line in Houston are: former Carleton College star Matt Hooley, former Gopher and 2004 Trials qualifier Eric Hartmark of Hanson's Brooks, Austin-Jarrow's Brandy Erholtz, and Run N Fun's Erin Ward, Angie Voight, and Melissa Gacek.
Michael Reneau and Jenna Boren, who've already punched Trails tickets for 2008 will also compete.
Reneau told DTB today that he and his already-qualified Hudson High School teammate Ryan Meissen are planning to run 5:15 to 5:18 miles (2:18-ish pace) together. They hope to then witness fellow prep teammate Jason Finch of RNF cross the line with his own OT qualifier there as well.
Addition: Some other marathons are offering Trials incentives and support as well.