DeHaven wins hot, humid Marathon Trials

Rod DeHaven pours water on his head on his way to winning the 2000 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials  Credit: Victor Sailer/PhotoRun
In brutal heat and humidity reminiscent of the Women's Marathon Trials in February, Rod DeHaven secured the sole spot on the men's U.S. marathon team by winning the U.S. Men's Marathon Trials in Pittsburgh on May 7.

DeHaven's winning time of 2:15:30 was slower than the Olympic cutoff of 2:14:00, making him the only runner allowed on the Olympic team under United States Track and Field rules. Peter De La Cerda finished second in 2:16:18, and Mark Coogan finished third in 2:17:04.

"I'm ecstatic I won," said DeHaven, a 33-year-old computer programmer from Madison, Wisc. "But it's really sad I'm the only one of us going to Sydney. I really feel for Mark (Coogan who was third) and Peter (De La Cerda, who was second). I would have loved to run faster and gotten some other guys on the team, but I knew it wasn't going to happen today."

In his second-ever marathon finish, De La Cerda who was the rabbit for the last two Pittsburgh Marathons set a PR by almost two minutes.

"I was determined to run a guts race," De La Cerda said. "And that's what I did. Maybe I could've run more tactically and stayed back, but I was after the 2:14 standard. I knew I wouldn't get that by holding back."

Pre-race favorite David Morris of Albuquerque, N.M., struggled in the humid, 70- to 80-degree weather, finishing 38th in 2:29:26.

"The race today was so disappointing," Morris said. "I'm trying not to think about it too much. When I do, it drives me nuts to think that I'll have to wait another four years. I think I overtrained. My legs were sore at 16 miles. That shouldn't have happened. I tried to do more or less the same training that I did before Chicago, but I made them a little faster, especially in the taper the last three weeks. That was probably a mistake."

Many runners experienced heat-related difficulties during the race, suffering from cramps and exhaustion.

"I dropped out. I just didn't have the will to keep going," said Steve Plascencia, running his seventh Olympic Trials competition. "I was in maybe 25th place, but I was going in the wrong direction. My training didn't go well the last four weeks. And of course the heat was tough."

Marathon world-record holder Khalid Khannouchi, who recently was granted U.S. citizenship, didn't race in the Trials due to injuries, but followed it on the Internet.

"I give the athletes so much credit for running in those conditions," Khannouchi said. "Anything can happen when it's that hot. Even a 2:09 runner like David Morris can have a bad day and fail to make the standard. A runner like Rod DeHaven can run under 2:10 under good conditions, but not when it's so hot."

"I don't think it's the right way to pick an Olympic team," Khannouchi told Runner's World after the race. "We need to find a better system. To have just one chance in the Trials is not enough. The runners should get two or three chances in different marathons. Marathoners aren't like track athletes. If we have a bad day, we can't go out and run another marathon the next week. It takes six months or more."

USATF men's long-distance running chairman Danny Grimes and USATF CEO Craig Masback both said that the organization is and would be working to ensure that the United States can send full marathon teams in the future.

"I don't think we'll have an Olympic Trials (marathon) that is this hot or this slow ever again," Grimes said.

Visit Runner's World Daily for full coverage of the 2000 Olympic Men's Marathon Trials

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