Feb | 8
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Brooks Athletes

The Contenders: Hansons-Brooks Marathon Trials First-Timers

The athletes of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project are fierce, strong and they’re ready to make a statement at the U.S. Marathon Trials in Los Angeles. But a few of them are new to the team or new to the marathon distance, and for them, this will be their very first trials racing 26.2.

Get to know who will race at the Marathon Trials for the first time below in a series of mini Q&A’s, and read up on other Brooks athletes in our Contenders series here.

Jake Riley

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

I think the energy around the event is going to be really fun. It’s a looped course, there’s a lot on the line, so I think the fan involvement and the spectacle of it all as going to be great.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

It means I’m one of the top in my sport in the country, which is the fulfillment of a lot of goals I’ve had for a long time.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

It’s great having people there that have been in this position because between them, they’ve made all the mistakes already. They can tell me what I should sweat and what to let go, give me an idea of how the race will play out, it’s very helpful.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

Go out and have a big burger and a beer with my family, though maybe shower first.

Brendan Gregg

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With this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

Seeing the team do well and having a lot of black, red and yellow jerseys at the front of the race.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

It means a good opportunity to gain experience and build for the future.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

It increases the excitement level knowing how much work these guys have put in over the years, and hopefully seeing that pay off with a great result on the biggest stage. Seeing the consummate professionalism with which they approach training and competing makes weathering the high and lows of racing at a high level much easier to deal with, and has helped me tremendously to toe the line calmly and be sure of a successful outcome.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

Find my teammates and share some sweaty, celebratory high fives.

Bobby Curtis

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I’m looking forward to be able to compete for an Olympic spot. Every marathon I’ve run has been a big city World Marathon Major or IAAF Gold Label race… so it will be a nice change of scenery to race in a more intimate and all-U.S. field.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

It’s a big deal. I’m lucky to be one of the guys with a solid shot of making the team, so it’s great to have a really big race coming up on my calendar. I’ve never done a U.S. marathon trials race so I’m really excited.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

Being a member of the Hansons-Brooks team means being  a part of a team that has a legacy of success at the U.S. Olympic Trials; that is definitely great for my confidence going in to the race.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

Commence my incessant complaints about foot, stomach and quad pain. If I make the Olympic Team maybe I won’t grumble so much!

Mohamed Hrezi

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

With this being my first trials, I am mostly looking forward to the experience. It’s an awesome opportunity and I look forward to being able to run a personal best with America’s top marathoners.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

It is still surreal to me that I am competing in the Marathon Olympic Trials. Graduating college less than two years ago, I didn’t think I’d be running a marathon this early. It’ll truly be an honor to be able to toe the line on Feb. 13.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

Having the older guys around has been unbelievable. They are all tested when it comes to the distance and are able to help me out with everything from nutrition to training to race strategy. I couldn’t imagine trying to get through my first Olympic Trials without them.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

I’m not sure what the first thing will be, but I already have a vacation planned post-race. As much as I love pounding out the 120 mile weeks, I look forward to two weeks of no running and just enjoying some family time!

Melanie Brender

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

Not only is this my first Olympic Trials…it’s also my first marathon. I look forward to learning and respecting the distance, while proudly wearing the Hansons-Brooks jersey.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

It is a blessing to run in the trials with a bundle of my talented, hardworking teammates. This race is a highlight on my running journey – a step towards future progress. While it’s a dream come true to run the 2016 Trials, this is also a sign that it is time to dream bigger. Onward and upward!

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

I’ve had some in-depth discussions with our veterans about the trials. Their advice will prevent me from tackling the race too naively. Mike Morgan gave me tips on how to use my downtime after my Halloween half marathon to prepare for marathon training. Desi is teaching me how to break the marathon into distinct parts, each part with its own goal. Mel and Dot have also been fantastic resources.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

I’ll find my dad and give him a huge hug.

Jen Rock

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to gaining the experience from being in such a high profile race. It’s crazy to be lining up with the nation’s best marathoners. I know that I still have a lot to learn in the marathon distance, and I am looking forward to the experience that I’ll be able to take away from this.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

Running in the Olympic trials marathon has been a dream of mine since my third year of college. My excitement for the marathon distance began when I was a senior in high school, when my cross country coach told me that she thought I had great potential in the future at the marathon. But, when I joined the cross country team at Wayne State University in Detroit and heard that our assistant coach had been training for an Olympic Trials Qualifier (OTQ) for the marathon, I knew that some day I wanted to train for that OTQ. It is pretty surreal for me to actually be competing at this level now. It had always been a dream of mine, but I never knew if I actually had what it would take to make the Olympic Trials.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

The veterans on the team help me approach the trials with a more relaxed attitude. They remind us that this is our first trials experience and that this is just something that will help our long term goals at the marathon distance. We are pretty lucky to have veterans like Des, Dot and Melissa to look up to.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

The first thing I will do after I finish the marathon is look for my teammates, and celebrate with my teammates. We have worked so hard together, and we have been through a lot together. It is even more special to compete in the trials with the support of a team. For four of us, it is our first trials, and then we have Des, Dot and Melissa leading the way. I am especially excited to see how Des, Dot and Mel finish!

Dani Miller

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking to gain valuable Olympic Trials experience for, hopefully, many more trials to come! This Olympic Trials is an investment in our futures in marathoning. This is also a chance to represent Hansons-Brooks on a huge stage and get to represent my family, friends, local running community and myself. This culmination of hard work, dedication, team dynamic and some of the best coaching in the country will be seen in this trials. I’m beyond excited and blessed for my first trials experience!

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

The Olympic Trials mean so much to me, it shows that with hard work, dedication, passion for the sport, and an amazing running community (which I am so lucky to be apart of in Michigan), that anything is possible. I’ve been dreaming of this finish line like many have for the past year. I’ve become a stronger woman in many aspects because of the marathon, and it will continue to make me stronger and more enlightened as I go on. With the support of my family, teammates, friends and running community, there is limitless possibilities! This means so much to me to be on the starting line with some of the country’s most amazing women, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life!

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

The veterans running the Olympic Trials are truly amazing, and I know we preach it to them all the time. But they are the first people that you go to for advice on bad days and the first people to tell you how excellent you did on a good day. Des, Dot, Luke, Melissa and Mike are not only witty and hilarious but they’re amazing runners and even better people! My teammates have truly made an impact on the Olympic Trials and American distance running;  I can only hope I can follow in their legendary footsteps.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

At the finish, I’ll be really excited to stop running in a forward motion after 26.2 miles, I will then make sure to snag a Mylar blanket as a souvenir because my cat LOVES them. I’ll then find my amazingly fast teammates and family for hugs and celebration festivities! I’m looking forward to the experience gained and another marathon in the book!

Katie Kellner

brooks runners first marathon trials, list of brooks athletes at marathon trials, hansons brooks athletes at trials, first time marathon trials runnersWith this being your first Trials at the marathon distance, what are you most looking forward to?

It’s hard to choose just one fun aspect of the trials because there are so many things to look forward to. I think I am most excited to physically race my first marathon. I have been looking forward to attempting the marathon distance since high school, but I wanted to make sure that I went into the event fully prepared to compete, not just run. I’m finally at that point in my running career. It is incredible that my first experience in the marathon will be at the Olympic Trials. That’s a special thing that not many people can say. I will also be able to run the race with six of my teammates. Even if I’m not with them during the race, just knowing that they are out there giving it their all will inspire me to push myself to my limits. It should be a really fun day.

What does it mean to you to run in the Trials?

Running in the Olympic Trials is a really special opportunity. I feel honored to be able to compete against the best marathoners in the country. There are so few people that can say that they competed at the Olympic Trials, so I’m very happy that I will be able to experience it.

How does having trials veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides impact how you’re approaching the race?

I have three teammates who have competed in the Trials before- Dot McMahan, Melissa Johnson-White and Desi Linden. I am fortunate enough to be able to train with them and emulate what they do. They have given me advice about every aspect of the marathon, including how to pace myself, when to take fluids and how badly to expect my feet to hurt by the finish. The cool thing about the marathon is that it involves strategy. There is a lot more to it than just running as fast as you can until you reach the finish line. It weren’t for my teammates, I would no doubt screw up my first marathon. Plus, they make training more fun! I’m very lucky to have them.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after you finish?

If I can still walk, I will likely try to find my parents, my biggest supporters (thanks Mom and Dad!), and then convince them to treat me to an ice cream sundae.

 

Read more: Be sure to get involved at the trials– even if from afar. See how you can cheer on Brooks elites here.

About Derek
I’m a runner, a writer, and a shoe lover who enjoys morning coffee, travel, singing in the car, and getting legitimately lost on trail runs. Three things I can’t live without: bubble tea, Fridays, and my Brooks PureFlow’s.
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