The Olympic Trials. The title itself gives me chills. I’ve watched the Olympics since I was a little girl, and no matter what the sport, from track and field to gymnastics to swimming, I watch the games with intensity. As a child, I was sure that someday, in some capacity I would make it to the Olympics. This will probably be as close as I get, and it did not disappoint.
On Saturday, I found myself at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles. Since beginning my job here at Running Warehouse almost two years ago, my day-to-day tasks have always provided me with the chance to learn and grow, not only as a writer, but as a runner. When I learned that RW was sending me to the Olympic Marathon Trials in LA, I nearly lost my mind. I really couldn’t have been more excited.
The experience of being at the event itself was so overwhelming. With 375 super fast athletes competing for spots on the Olympic Team, only 3 men and 3 women would eventually qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team going to Rio. The pressure was high, and I could feel it in the air on Saturday morning.
Recaps are fun, but you’ve already read 10 accounts of what went down on Saturday. So instead, here are a few things I learned from my time at the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Heat makes a big difference. With temperatures rising to 72 degrees, it was the hottest Olympic Marathon Trials in history. Just standing on the sidelines, I was feeling overheated by mid-morning. Throughout the race, many dropped out due to dehydration or heat exhaustion.
There was quite a police presence. Since the horrific Boston bombing in 2013, security has been heightened, and it was keenly felt. At any given time, you could be sure that officers were nearby, which gave a very secure feeling to bystanders like me.
Spectators like to stand in the road. Armed with iPhones and professional cameras alike, spectators jumped into the road to try to get that perfect shot whenever they could. The police on patrol were constantly yelling at people to get back behind the yellow tape. I was too scared to break any rules, but I’m sure those eager fans won at least a few Instagram points.
So many photographers. It was hard to sort the news reporter from the personal blogger, though usually the gear did all the talking. See photo to the right – the guy next to me near the starting line had cameras on cameras. This photo doesn’t even show the camera around his neck and the camera on his tripod that he had attached to the barrier.
Elite runners are faster in person. It’s humbling, really. You KNOW in your head that these athletes are fast, but it’s a whole new perspective when you’re up close and personal.
Elite athletes seem more human in person. When you’re used to seeing amazing Instagrams and photoshoots of these superstars online all the time, you build them up as superheros. When you see them in person, it hits home that these are normal people – they just happen to be really fast. They sweat, they work hard, they get fatigued. That being said, I still fangirled SO HARD. I’m convinced Kara heard me call her name. #bffs
A loop course keeps things interesting. Spectating at this event was awesome because it was a loop course. Though the map was quite confusing to me (and every spectator I asked), we found ourselves parked in a certain spot by an aid station (and across from the Oiselle cheering section… holla!) and we got to see the athletes pass us multiple times without needing to relocate further down the course.
There are SO many fans. It was inspiring to see all the signs, hear all the cowbells, and witness all the die-hard fans. None of my photos do it justice. The crowds were huge, making it hard to get to and from different parts of the course, especially near the start/finish line.
Runners cheer for everyone. One of the most beautiful things about this sport is the sportsmanship. Unlike many sporting events, we want all of the runners to do well and achieve their goals. As I looked down the sidelines as each runner passed, cheers rang out with encouraging words.
Everyone should see this. If you EVER, and I mean EVER have the chance to be at one of these events, you need to. Runners and non-runners alike can take so much away from this experience. As a runner that runs at the modest pace of anywhere between 8 and 10 minute miles, I felt so inspired. Not that this kind of speed may ever be achievable for me, but seeing these elite athletes pushing hard for their dreams and running their hearts out makes it impossible for anyone watching not to be moved.
To see more photos from my time at the Olympic Marathon Trials in LA, check out our photo album on Facebook.