Athletes Angry Over Marathon Trials Treatment

GoldringFinish
Katja Goldring crawled to the ground the moment she passed the finish line, looking completely incredulous.

Imagine a world where the powers that be select a group of men and a group of women to compete, struggle, and suffer for the amusement of the elites. Imagine an arena built solely for the comfort of the spectating elite classes, one that all but ensures mass suffering of the competitors. Imagine stepping into this arena after being told for years that getting here was an honor and a privilege, only to have the sinking feeling of dread at what’s about to happen to you.

I’m not writing about the Hunger Games. I’m writing about the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. You’d think something like the Marathon Trials would be a celebration of the runners who trained, worked, struggled, and strove to earn a spot on the starting line. Instead, the race organizers treated them like props, props who had to pay their own way to be on the stage, and put the comforts and desires of corporate sponsors and NBC over the needs of the runners to meet the physical demands of the race.

It’s been over a week since the crazy-hot Olympic Trials Marathon, but that doesn’t mean athletes aren’t still steaming. And as more of them speak up about it, we’re continuing to wonder what the hell the USATF and L.A. race organizers were thinking. 

The Host City

For each Trials, the USATF chooses a host race. In the past, the Trials have been held in conjunction with the New York Marathon, Boston, Houston, among others. Then, the USATF and the host race work together to put the Trials on. The selection of this host city/race is usually fairly straight-forward. The Long Distance Running Section Committee votes on the contenders and majority rules. Usually.

USATF put this nice "Feet on the Street" campaign up on their website, intended to galvanize Angelinos for the Trials. The only time we heard it mentioned by anyone was the press conference.
USATF put this nice “Feet on the Street” campaign up on their website, intended to galvanize Angelinos for the Trials. The only time we heard it mentioned by anyone was the press conference.

The 2016 host race decision-process occurred in January of 2014, when the USATF deviated from its standard procedure. According to a January 2014 Race Results Weekly article, USATF’s Long Distance Running Section Committee voted 5-0 to award Houston the 2016 Trials as it had for 2012. However, CEO Max Siegel overruled the Committee, awarding the Trials to L.A taking advantage of an ambiguity in the bylaws, which made it unclear whether or not he had the power to make that call. While we can’t be completely certain, the thought is that Siegel took the Trials to L.A. on the promise that the larger media market would help USATF sell broadcasting rights to a major network and thereby increase exposure of the event and the sport. This current contingent of leadership at USATF is working very hard to take track and field (including road events like the marathon), from a second tier sport to a major and L.A., hungry to prove itself ready to host another Olympics, was seen as a greater ally in that pursuit.

Every athlete we spoke to who ran both the Houston Trials in 2012 and the 2016 L.A. Trials raved about Houston in comparison. The weather is usually great, the logistics are simple, it’s less expensive to stay and get around there, and the race is tightly organized. Even runners who ran in the 2016 Houston Marathon and the L.A. Trials raved about Houston in comparison to the L.A. Trials. And as we’ll soon discuss, there’s no wonder why.

Foreshadows of Trouble

After USATF announced its decision, athletes assumed the L.A. Trials would be as wonderful a race experience as other recent Trials, but there were indications of problems. First came the December 11, 2015 Trials standard change. Arguably, this was something USATF could not avoid because the U.S. standard was (arguably) bound by law to match the International Olympic Committtee’s (IOC) standard and because the IOC hadn’t set this standard until then. Nonetheless it didn’t exactly instill confidence in USATF as a governing body and it potentially inspired more runners to go for a qualifier over those last few weeks of the qualifying period, which possibly exacerbated a timing issue.

Runner gets a bag of ice poured over her head
Having your teammates pour ice water over you is one way to get your own fluids.

Trials athletes were required to declare their intent to use their own fluids at the race one week before the Trials qualifying window ended. Say what?! When potentially dozens of athletes don’t yet even know if they can run your race, how is it fair to close the deadline for having fluids on the course? That makes no sense, particularly when the weather and time of day were considered (we’ll get to that). Sure, no one knew the weather would be as bad as it was, but odds were it would be warm and sunny, which require more fluids than your average forty degree fall marathon.

Additionally, athletes who qualified with B standards (the vast majority) had to pay their own way to the race, which is no big deal until you consider that a stay at the host hotel cost each athlete a discounted(!) rate of $300 per night for a minimum of 3 nights. The host hotel did not only house the athletes, it also housed things like packet pick-up, press conferences, the athlete hospitality suite, etc. Cheaper lodging options were not just inconvenient, but also came with the real possibility of being a logistical nightmare with L.A.’s notorious traffic, particularly on race morning with road closures.

The logo rules at the Trials have been well-publicized and were no different from previous years, and like previous years, they left many athletes scrambling to tape over logos on seemingly innocuous things like their fluid bottles. Salty buddy Keely Maguire had to find new compression socks when the New Balance logos on her usual socks were deemed to be too prominent after she had turned them inside out. At first glance this might not seem like a big deal, but when just getting to the Trials is so expensive for many of these athletes, any difficulty for their sponsors to get a little viewing time means sponsors are less inclined to help defray the costs. If USATF wants to use the Trials race to grow the sport of running, why are they creating financial disincentives for up-and-coming athletes to attend?

Less Bang for More Bucks

Like past Trials Marathons, there was an entry fee for the participants. Athletes were required to pay $30 to enter, which is very modest for a marathon, but slightly strange in that the participants of this race were purportedly competing to represent our country. Not to mention they’re the main subject of the TV coverage, and imagine how much money NBC paid to cover this race – where was that money allocated? So, what did this $30 registration fee get the athletes?

It didn’t get them a t-shirt. One athlete we talked to put it this way:

Sounds stupid, I know. But if you pay an entry fee to a race, isn’t there a reasonable expectation you will get a t-shirt with it? I’m still in disbelief. And got really mad during the race when I saw that all of the volunteers had these nice Nike technical race volunteer t-shirts. And then talked to one later and found out they not only got tshirts, but jackets as well. Are you kidding me? I’m the one who actually ran in, and paid to run in this race. Nothing?

So unbelievably grateful for our good friends GG and BG. Today, I received all this awesome @nike US Olympic Trials gear thanks to their generosity! I had been pretty disappointed after getting to the Trials (a huge reach goal of mine) that there wasn’t a single piece of gear given to the runners who had trained SO hard to get there. Not a single shirt, hat, bag or memento (even to purchase) of any sort to bring home to remember that weekend #LA2016. It was really pretty crappy on behalf of the @lamarathon, @usatf and all involved in the planning of that weekend not to put more thought into the race. Our friends received these amazing shirts and jackets as trials volunteers and sent them to @iannurse24 and me after realizing the athletes weren’t given them too. So guys, THANK YOU! And @usatf @nike – consider sending the other runners these as well- everyone deserves a little something to remember they ran in the US OLYMPIC MARATHON TEAM TRIALS! ? #LA2016 #olympicmarathontrials #teamusa #roadtorio

A photo posted by marathon runner (@amandarunsboston) on

Surely the athletes got goodie bags when they picked up their numbers?

I did get a cheapo red bag to hold my envelopes of welcome letters from the mayor, race committee, etc. And a bottle of Coke. That was our race swag. For the Olympic Trials.  

And previous Trials races provided free events to athletes, like Boston in 2008, when athletes could bring one guest to both a free pre-race reception and a post-race party. In L.A.? For $75 a Trials athlete could bring one guest to the prerace reception and then could pay another $75 to go to the post-race reception. Was it worth it?

I bought tickets, just because I figured this was such a once in a lifetime opportunity, I didn’t want to miss out. Big mistake. The pre-race reception at the science center was pretty cool because of the location, but honestly I would have enjoyed a real dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant for much less than $75. The post race “reception”? There was nothing official about it, but 1 table of food in a bar type restaurant. Appetizer type food. How they got away with charging $75 for what I would not have even paid $10 for, I don’t know. Ridiculous.

Helping Runners Through the Heat

While the Trials provided less race swag than your friendly neighborhood 5k, that’s not even the worst of it, not even close. Did you notice the weird start times for the Trials races? 10:06 a.m. for the men and 10:22 a.m. for the women. These start times weren’t chosen to assist athletes in performing their best, they were chosen to accommodate NBC’s schedule. And while an average Angelino February 13 would bring temperatures in the high 50’s around that time of day, this year, the temperatures were forecasted early to be much higher, dangerously so, in fact.

Flanagan1
Flanagan being carried by her husband Steve Edwards after a dramatic finish line crossing into the waiting arms of Amy Hastings Cragg, who held Shalane up on wobbling legs of her own.

USATF had to know that most runners would be out in noonday sun, but it didn’t seem they’d thought that far ahead from the course, which featured virtually no shade, but plenty of hairpin turns, curbs, and potholes. Of course, with the red flag weather warning, you’d think the USATF and the L.A. race crew would provide extra fluids for the athletes, instead athletes had fluids at best every 5k. That’s once each 3.1 miles in the blazing sun on a hot day. And on the latter laps, those fluids were roasting hot.

It’s true that last minute race officials intended to add a second water stop, but the plan never got off the ground. They did add a sponge station they announced at the athlete technical meeting, which runners reported to us was more helpful than they’d initially expected. However, it was placed in the middle of the street, so to access the sponges women had to scramble horizontally through the pack, often while dodging faster men runners who were lapping them.

On a hot day when there aren’t a lot of fluid stations or opportunities to cool athletes down, of course the race will ensure adequate medical staff is ready to help heat-exhausted athletes, right? When Shalane Flanagan, SHALANE FLANAGAN, collapses at the finish line and her fellow exhausted athlete has to hold her up until her husband can get to her – not medical personnel – you know there’s a problem.

Yes, They Had No Bananas

Ok, so maybe USATF and the L.A. Marathon personnel were caught off guard by the weather. Surely, they didn’t intend to neglect the athletes. Surely they’d take care of them once they finished. Imagine the spread you’d get upon finishing that marathon!

You mean, a warm bottle of water and a warm bottle of Powerade?

That’s it. That was what the athletes had in the finishing area. Yes, they had no bananas that day. Or anything else. At. All.

They didn’t have any food for the athletes at the finish. Nothing, not even bananas. They did hand us bottles of water or PowerAde that we could drink as we walked by the VIP tent set up with an extensive food buffet. But for the actual runners (who I would like to reiterate, actually paid an entry fee for this race) who just finished a marathon on an ill-supported course in the heat? Nothing. 

Ah yes. The VIP tent. Next to the finish area was a large tent, the VIP Hospitality tent. In Cinnamon’s Story of the Day, she briefly mentioned this VIP tent at the start. What she neglected to mention, but definitely noticed, was the fully stocked bar in the VIP tent, the silver coffee urns, the real-not-disposable plates, forks and wine glasses, and the full, catered breakfast. Not that these people didn’t have a stake in the race, some were city officials, some were likely affiliated with athlete sponsors, some were with USATF, and there was likely even a coach or two and perhaps even runners’ family members, as tickets were on sale to the public:

Watch the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon from the best seats on course! Attendees to this paid area will have access to bleachers along the Start/Finish straightaway as well as entry into the Race Hospitality Tent which includes a catered breakfast and hosted bar. The race broadcast will also be shown inside the Tent ensuring that you don’t miss a minute of the action.

Nonetheless, against a backdrop of runners pushing themselves in the hottest part of the day essentially to please a broadcasting schedule, the scene reeked a bit of luxury. And, to many athletes who didn’t even get a banana or a bagel after their race, misuse of resources.

So, what do you think? Did the USATF and the L.A. Marathon drop the ball? 

[Correction: A previous version of this post credited the USATF Board with the authority to vote on the host site/city for the Olympic Trials.]

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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28 comments

  1. My point is made all the more by “I still want a t-shirt”. I have a little experience with the elite Africans, and I can tell you they couldn’t give a rip if they got a t-shirt. While you complain about the “Elites” consider this – LA shut down a considerable portion of their city so by your own words the majority of runners could compete in an event where “less than 10” actually had a chance to make the team. In essence millions of dollars was spent to pick a team that – other than Rupp – has little-if-any chance to make waves at the Olympics. Not being harsh – just realistic. The harsh reality is if you are a male and haven’t broken 2:12, or a female who hasn’t broken 2:28 you probably should be paying your own way. In our country we seem to have an entitlement mentality, as well as a jealousy mentality (that VIP tent was likely full of people who thru their $$ donations allowed the event to even occur – do you really want to crucify them?). The harsh reality is that our sport makes no money – it is what it is as they say – and this “event” was not a windfall for the networks. The fact that it was on national TV is a feather in the cap of whomever is in charge – rather than complain you should be thankful.

    By the way – your condescending remarks about the volunteers “earning” their spots speaks volumes about your mentality. My experience in our sport is those volunteers did “earn” their spots “monitoring the water stations” thru years of love for our sport – I suppose only in the hopes of handing you cool cup of water as you run past them with your nose in the air.

  2. Where did you get your information that “… a stay at the host hotel cost each athlete a discounted(!) rate of $300 per night for a minimum of 3 nights.”
    * The host hotel, JW Marriott, was free for “A” standards athletes for a shared room, and $199.50 for their own room.
    * “B” standards athletes were offered their own room for $239 at the host hotel. Also, a limited number of 2-night minimum stay rooms were available on a first-come, first-served basis.
    * Athletes were also offered a room with no minimum stay at the Holiday Inn in Torrance for $145/night.
    * Other options tincluded the Omni on Bunker Hill (1.3 miles to the start/finish) at $184/night for a 2-night minimum.

  3. Pointing out shitty management isn’t whining. The athletes are the creme of the crop, fastest in our country, and they weren’t even provided the treatment of a local 5k.

    It’s just ludicrous. It’s like a pro football team going to the superbowl, but being asked to pay for their hotels, dinner the day of the game, pay for their own families to attend and eat. Don’t forget they ahve to play the game at the local high school instead, and by the way, no fans and limited hydration provided during the game, and if they win they don’t get a trophy but can keep a wet dish rag they used during the game. But good news if you are a fan who wants VIP seating in the front row you get a catered meal, custom jerseys, and a massage, it’s all worth it because it will be LIVE on the TV! $$$

  4. Wow Steve, I just don’t even know where to start. The majority of the athletes in that race don’t compete on the international stage, and knew they weren’t in a position to actually make it to the Olympics. But they certainly EARNED their right to compete in the Olympic Trials. A marathon with only the top tier professionals who legitimately have a chance of making the team (less than 10) wouldn’t be too exciting.

    So for the majority of working-class runners in the field, they certainly EARNED their right to compete.
    I’ve had it both ways- the opportunity to be paid to train as a professional, and the reality of making it on my own, so can honestly speak for both. Truly elite runners make that choice to dedicate their life to a sport. But as far as a hard lifestyle…come on. You can only train for so many hours a day; the rest is spent on “recovery.” And again, depending on sponsorship level, they make the choice to try to EARN their living as an athlete. Much harder- a working class runner. So yes, when I work so that I can afford to spend a few thousand dollars to travel to a sporting event, am busy raising children, with a husband who is often deployed EARNING your first amendment rights so you can call me a whiner, and sacrifice the few free hours and ounces of energy I have left each day to training as much as I’m able, I will complain about what I feel was a poorly managed, disappointing significant life event. That is my real world.

    No one was holding anything against the volunteers. While I’m sure they EARNED their spots as volunteers with months, years, of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice to make it there, and the non-local ones spent a few thousand dollars to be part of an event they wanted to be part of, they did a great job of monitoring the water stations, etc.

    It seems you missed it, but the tone of this article was Hunger Games-esque, and it was dead on. The complaints are against the organizers/powers that be. And do a little searching, and you will see that true elites have the same complaints. But most of them will not speak up because the sad reality is, sports are political.

    And I would still like a t-shirt.

  5. It’s no wonder US athletes get their asses handed to them on the international stage if this is the attitude of the majority of athletes. Once every 4 years YOU get the opportunity to EARN a spot on an Olympic team and this is your takeaway? You can’t come up with a few thousand dollars once in four years to compete – you complain about staying in a $300/night hotel – you complain about having to pay a few buck to run, and you ACTUALLY complain because volunteers who likely spent hours in meetings prior to standing out for hours with no glory at stake received a jacket and a t-shirt. Not ONCE in your bitch session did you thanks the many volunteers who helped you out (I’m not one of them) – not once did you thank anyone who helped you get there – you simply come across as an entitled whiner who has no grasp of the real world. Many runner elite runners who routinely kiss ass live on far less, and would never complain about such trivial issues. It seems you simply want – Olympic athletes are a rare breed – they don’t ask for it – they take it. Whiners need not apply.

  6. Regarding the t-shirts, since that seems to have created a lot of comments:

    I ran in the Olympic Trials. That’s a big deal. How many people run marathons every year, and how many people actually qualified for the OTs? About 400. So yes, I want a t-shirt from it. You’re right Ginger, I have way too many race t-shirts already. I normally get race t-shirts in size XL so I can give them to my husband. But a t-shirt from a very selective race that only happens every 4 years? I’d like a t-shirt from it. Sorry Mike… the finisher’s medal wasn’t a good consolation. Am I supposed to wear that around my neck so people know I was at the Trials?

    1. You mean to tell me you haven’t been wearing your medal every day since the race? It’s so practical and stylish. Or better yet, who needs a shirt when you can just pin your race bib to everyday outfits? Ugh. I wish I could get you a shirt!

    2. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a tshirt but when the athletes didn’t get them and the USATF volunteers got special tech tees AND really fancy Nike jackets it’s kind of insulting.

  7. Hearing about all that went on stirred up many thoughts and emotions. I spectated at Houston in 2012 and thought it was a better executed event than LA. There were lots of Olympic history and gaming tents around the start/finish which helped increase spectator knowledge and fandom. The general vibe was also very friendly, excited, and supportive of the athletes in their quest to represent the USA.

    It is an embarrassment to hear that no food, not even bananas, was available at the finish and that some athletes were denied medical transport if they DNF’d away from the start/finish. If I was ever so lucky to be an OTQer, I’d likely not run it after this debacle because it seems as if it has turned into a profit for race directors, like most races these days where you pay a buttload for exclusive gear and treatment. It’s like even the Olympic Trials are not safe from corporate America bullshit.

    Ironically, I had a passing thought that now the elite of the elite know what it feels like to be your average joe runner at a race, but like most have said, even the little dinky neighborhood 5k has bananas after the race. I was also just slightly confused about the shirt situation because it is often the elite runners complaining that race fees are so high because of t-shirts and swag, like “what happened to the good ol’ days when a race was $15 and all about the race” But if they were offered in the past, taking it away now was not a good idea. And the volunteer swag? Geeze!

    In all, I’d chalk this clusterf*ck of a situation up to the corporatization of the running industry, turning one of the oldest and cheapest of human activity into a beast of a market. It’s not about the athletes anymore, unless you’re 1, 2, and 3. Even then though, 1, 2, and 3 are not safe from name mispronunciations. #Trump2016 #jk

  8. First, you just regurgitated most of Rizzo’s blog post on this subject.
    Second, blaming the hot weather on LA is just dumb. Usatf have no control over the weather and it was unusually warm.
    The USATF screwed up with in preparing for the heat but even experienced RDs mess this up (see Chicago 07)
    A number of “complaints” centered in disrespect in that the athlete in that no one kissed lower tier athletes rings, they didn’t get a free participation shirt (note: fininshers got a nice medal), the fans didn’t support them enough on the course, a few people made comments about some runners having no shot.

    1. RE: Chicago 2007: Race organizers messed nothing up. It was the news media that created a circus after the race. The public has no idea what’s involved with organizing, let alone running, a marathon. I ran Chicago that year, and the water stations were fully stocked, organizers, volunteers and med staff were well informed, and they kept the safety of the runners in mind when they cancelled the race. The only fault, if any, was the organizers inability to manage the media and explosion in the news and not getting out ahead of the story.
      RE: The Trials in LA: If you had seen how the OT races in Boston, NYC, and Houston worked like a Swiss watch, you’d be outraged, too. Even taking the weather out of the equation, LAOC was completely unprepared to handle a race of less than 500 runners. I’ve managed turkey trots with more runners and less oversights. LA had two years to prepare. There’s no excuse for what they did to the runners…OUR runners.

    2. No one is blaming the hot weather on LA Mike, BUT things like this could have been prevented. First and foremost, LA probably shouldn’t have held the trials. It wasn’t that unusually warm. EVERY year the LA marathon has to issue warnings days in advance because shocker “It’s going to be warm!”. So putting a race of this level in a spot that notoriously has red flag weather is a bit silly to me. Second, fine LA got the marathon but then failed to prepare properly. No extra water stations? No extra concern for runners? Less amenities than most small town marathons, let alone one in LA for the best marathoners in the country.

      Mike, I’m sorry you feel that athletes don’t deserve respect or support unless they are up front of the pack. But guess what…these are athletes that ARE the front of the pack year round and when you put them all together certainly they can’t all be top 3. USATF and other organizations want to promote running, and enhance the depth of our higher caliber athletes so treating them like such would only seem appropriate. If you are trying to win someone over, encourage them to join your organization or give them incentive to buy into your product/company/way of thinking you schmooze them. You don’t see big wigs at companies taking prospective clients to Denny’s for dinner, and then asking them to pay. You want to give runners incentive to train to meet time standards, and represent the US and help make running have a bigger impact in the sports world? Give them reason to be there to promote and enhance the sport instead of shitty treatment which only shows them that they could get more out of a local marathon (even though that marathon probably doesn’t have the same coverage and won’t help the sport as much as a high level event).

  9. Awful. you get better treatment as a runner in a Nike women’s road race (in fact I paid the same amount – 30€ – for one last year. There was plenty of water, food afterwards, and all. The. Swag. Why do the country’s highest level endurance athletes get less?

  10. Few other points

    1) athletes were told where they should ideally drop out. That’s fine for some, but for those in bad shape, there could be miles an athlete would need to travel to get the medical attention s/he might need.

    2) Shalane, who finished before finish line volunteers/ officials were inundated with other runners, still didn’t have access to a wheelchair near the finish line.

    3) Yes, officials made sure to have cotton cloth soaking in ice water but a) they ran out (should never happen) and eventually they had to use torn tech shirts (which altogether don’t retain water).

    4) As far as media exposure, they got it televised, which is a huge plus in my eyes. But how the heck did they not promote the hell out of this race to LA Marathoners. That was an easy target audience. Granted many marathoners are not fans/ enthusiasts of the sport, but I think I could make a rather convincing sell to a casual recreational runner if s/he was already in town and about to run a marathon. Many LA marathoners had no clue that the Trials was taking place.

    5) I am a fan of the sport, read up on this stuff regularly. For all of the USATF/ Nike’s concern about branding – I was under the impression that Skechers was the title sponsor of the Trials… Only in the days before (when it was still a bit unclear to me) and in the aftermath did I realize that a) there is no title sponsor for the Trials, just Nike has a generic 25yr contract and b) Skechers had no affiliation with the race. I also blame the LA Marathon and the LOC for this – how/ why would they not actively promote that the Trials was taking place right before their very own race?! That’s could be a huge marketing tool.

    6) Triathlons and ultras do this and for the life of me, I don’t understand how / why marathons haven’t caught on – why don’t they have salt pills on course?? Even potato chips would have helped many.

    7) Promotion and marketing in general. Granted we turn to blogs and sites like this, LetsRun, etc (how I pine for a US blog like Brett Larner’s great Japan Running News…) for news and editorial content, but if USATF is truly trying to grow the sport, why don’t they actively promote it on their site, social media, etc. They should have been putting out profiles of at least the top 5 qualifiers/ olympic hopefuls to spread the news. The very same LetsRun projection contest could have been done by the USATF to raffle off some Olympic Trials gear, but no. [sigh]

  11. This is bonkers! As a mid packer,mI have been treated better than that at virtually every Mary I have ever run. Not acceptable for our best and brightest :/

  12. If USATF and the USIOC wants a race to determine selection (rather than appointed like many countries do) then they need to manage it like a top race–NYC, Boston, Chicago. I think a public apology to all the qualifiers and special custom gear to all participants is in order. Complicating this is the lack of allowing other sponsors to have a presence. If you (LA or aUSATF) aren’t going to provide the necessities then let the sponsors provide tents and support for their athletes. I’m saddened by my country’s treatment of these amazing athletes. Great article, Salty. Have you seen the LinkedIn article on 10 things to change? I’ll find and forward to all. Very well written.

  13. The lack of safety for the athletes’ health astounds me; few fluid stations, one water/sponge station placed in a difficult location, and the fact that there was no food at the end? Really? IT might seem trivial, but no shirt/jacket/memento? Very disappointed in USATF.

      1. To be clear, they didn’t get a water bottle, they got a bottle of water. Like from a case of bottles of water. That had been sitting in the sun for five or six hours.

  14. Wow- just wow! Yes, the ball was totally dropped and shame on everyone who had a part in organizing the race. The runners should get the shirt and jacket sent to them. These athletes somehow need to get together as a group and bring this to the powers that be.
    Way to go for exposing this, pardon my lack of tact , shit show.
    I hope to see something good come out of this.

  15. This is just so disappointing! I have heard these complaints from other runners as well. It’s shameful how USATF treats its athletes and continues to do things NOT in the best interest of runners. I remember when Max Siegel became CEO, and he was going to help elevate running and track & field again in the US. Well, that hasn’t happened, and he has done nothing but make sure that he is taken care of. I have no information, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had some stake in the game getting the Trials to LA. (I forgot about his overriding vote until you mentioned it).

    What’s shameful is that there are many athletes that are afraid to voice their opinion because they are afraid of what USATF may do to them.

    Stephanie Hightower needs to go too. She’s still bitter that she didn’t get to go to the Olympics in 1980 because of the boycott.

    Hopefully 2020 will be better. Congrats to everyone who qualified and participated!

    1. “What’s shameful is that there are many athletes that are afraid to voice their opinion because they are afraid of what USATF may do to them.”

      ^^ so true. There have been implications that if athletes complain the B standard or even the whole Trials concept could be cut.

      I don’t think those in charge at USATF realize what the marathon trials do for athlete development and for igniting Olympic excitement in the running masses.

      1. I thought I was hearing/seeing things when watching the coverage and heard them mention the sand. This isn’t an obstacle course race, it’s the Olympic Trials marathon.