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Meb and Flanagan Declare For Olympic Marathon Trials

In an announcement that surprises no one, Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan announced they will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trails for the marathon.

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This morning, USATF announced news that didn't necessarily even need to be announced: Meb and Shalane will run the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Marathon this coming February in Los Angeles. You can read the press release here.

After winning their respective races in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston, both were the highest American finishers in the marathon in the 2012 London Olympics. Meb, of course, finished fourth in London, less than two minutes behind bronze. Shalane had a less remarkable performance in London as she finished 10th, edging Kara Goucher by less than 20 seconds for the top American spot.

The Trials will be held on February 13th, 2016 in Los Angeles. That date was chosen specifically so that winners can celebrate with their loved ones on Valentine's Day and, similarly, so that non-qualifiers may receive adequate consolation from same.

As press releases are wont to have, the USATF announcement contained some scripted quotes from both Meb and Flanagan. Meb had this to say:

"It is with great excitement that I officially announce my plan to compete at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles," said Keflezighi.  "As a product of San Diego, and UCLA, I am looking forward to competing in front of family and friends. It would be a great honor to make my fourth Olympic Team, but I know the competition will be very strong."

Grade-A press release quotation there. He connected himself to the city in which the race will be held, praised his competition, and invoked his family and friends.

Shalane adopted a more patriotic tone:

"For most athletes, pulling on that red, white and blue singlet is what it's all about," said Flanagan. "There are few things I want more than to make my fourth Olympic Team at the 2016 Games in Rio, and it all starts in Los Angeles on February 13. It's a good omen that Team USA's quest for gold begins in the Golden State!"

Very colorful words there. I, personally, like and am moderately amused by the tenuous connection she makes between California and winning a gold medal. It is very unlikely that the nickname of the state in which the Olympic Trials are held will affect the outcome of the actual Olympics in any way, but Shalane is clearly convinced of the relationship. I mean, she even used an exclamation point at the end of that sentence!

Both will very likely enter the trials as the fastest in their fields and heavy favorites to make the U.S. team, although that is certainly less of a sure-thing in the marathon than it is in any other event. Simply in terms of advancing the popularity of the sport, to say nothing of what they would do for the chances of an American medal in the marathon, I'll definitely be pulling for both to make the team.