ZAP sent a record number of athletes to the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this past weekend with high expectations. Those expectations were met in what was a stellar weekend, highlighted by two personal bests and one great debut.
Alissa McKaig, who has been rewriting the ZAP record books over the course of the past year, did it again in Houston on Saturday morning when she dropped her PR by over 5 minutes on the way to a top 10 finish. Alissa ran what she described as "her race" on Saturday, running most of the first 14 miles by herself. Her patience was rewarded on the back half of the course as she started to fly by runners one by one, picking up minutes on other athletes in the field. At mile 11 Alissa wasn't in sight of the 10th place runner, but she stayed committed to her game plan and on the final loop of the course found herself running down athletes in the top 10. By the time the dust settled after 26.2 miles Alissa had run by all but 7 athletes, crossing the line in 2:31:56 in 8th place.
Not far behind her finishing in 27th place, and also running a new personal best, was teammate Esther Erb. Esther's best marathon coming in was her qualifying time of 2:39:47 from Seville two years ago. Esther came through halfway with a large pack of runners on sub-2:36 pace. In the second half of the race Esther slowly pulled away from many of the women in the group, steadily moving up in the field. Esther was still clipping off 6 minute miles or quicker through 21 miles. Despite the quick pace Esther was able to finish strongly in a new PR of 2:37:21, lopping nearly 2 1/2 minutes off her old mark.
In the men's race Jesse Cherry, having qualified with a half marathon, ran his debut marathon on the biggest stage imaginable. Cherry handled the situation brilliantly, and despite the torrid pace up front, was able to manage his race well. Much like Alissa and Esther in the women's race, Jesse was able move through the field as the race unfolded. Jesse was happy with his debut and 29th place showing, but is eager to get back out there and try it again. "I know I can run so much faster, and I really want to do another one soon," said Cherry. It may not come that soon as Cherry will turn his focus to the track in preparation for the Olympic Track and Field Trials this summer, but his 2:16:31 finishing time is a great place to finish up his first year at ZAP.
Also competing in the men's race were Chris Clark and David Jankowski. Both experienced rough days, as can happen to even the most well prepared athletes in the marathon. However, both athletes are looking forward to using the strong base of training they put in during their marathon prep into success on the track this spring and summer.
In addition to racing her way to a new personal best in Houston, Esther also had the honor of singing the National Anthem before the race. You can listen to her here, courtesy to ZAP camper Tim Meigs.
Updated on May 25, 2013, 12:31pm