For U.S. Marathoners, the Road to Rio Starts in L.A.

February 12, 2016 - By: Sarah Hovis

 Before the
2016 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon takes place on Valentine’s Day, an elite group of endurance runners will get their shot at qualifying for the
2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Saturday, February 13, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will include
244 women and
211 men qualifiers.* The race will start and finish near the Los Angeles Convention Center. Check out the cool
animated map of the route created by
Runner’s World.
Making the Team
The U.S. selection process is unique considering most countries use committees to choose their teams based on multiple performances and in some instances, long-term competitive records. However, U.S. elite marathoners consider the
USA Track & Field (USATF) selection process to be the fairest. The top three women and men in the trials races will make the U.S. Olympic team, with a fourth finisher chosen as an alternate should one of the team have to withdraw before the race.
Names to Watch

  • Abdi Abdirahman - One of only two American male distance runners to make four Olympic teams (2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012).
  • Sam Chelanga - American distance runner who holds the NCAA record for 10,000 meters.
  • Shalane Flanagan - Two-time Olympian and bronze medal winner in the 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • Kara Goucher - Long-distance runner and two-time Olympian (2008 and 2012).
  • Meb Keflezighi -  Won the silver medal in the marathon in 2004 (Athens) and finished fourth in the marathon in 2012 (London).
  • Desiree Linden – Between the Trials and the 2012 Olympics, suffered a femoral stress fracture and dropped out of the Olympic race in the first few miles.

Read more about the top contenders
here and catch the trials
live on NBC starting at 1 p.m. (ET) or on the streaming app
NBC Sports Live Extra. Tell us in the comments if you’ll be watching.
*Qualifying period is between August 1, 2013, and January 17, 2016. Standards for men are 2:19:00 or faster (marathon) or 1:05:00 or faster (half marathon). Women’s standards are 2:45:00 (marathon) or 1:15:00 (half marathon). Photo via: