Story of the Day, Part II

The Salty Running Columbus, Ohio Trials Watch Party! (Don't worry, there are lots of great photos of L.A. after the jump!)Last we left you in the blazing heat of L.A., the runners had just stormed by Cinnamon’s camera. If we back up a few minutes and travel 3,000 miles back to Columbus, Ohio, I was in my husband’s truck freezing my rear off driving to Ginkgo’s house. Why I was in a rural enclave just east of Columbus with no television access and not in L.A. is a story with which I shall not bore you. But there I was rumbling west, grateful for Ginkgo’s graciousness and her television and that the truck’s heater worked, while feeling the warm fuzzies knowing that if you’re stuck in seven-degree Ohio and can’t be in sunny warm California watching a race you’ve been fantasizing about for weeks, there’s always Bingo, Twitter, and, more importantly, good friends … with snacks!

As I drove, I wondered if the coverage would be as good as past NBC coverage of running events, which is to say I wondered if the coverage would suck. Strangely, I was optimistic it wouldn’t. I’m not going to give you a detailed play-by-play of the race from the home viewer’s standpoint, because I’m guessing, if you’re reading this, you probably watched it yourself if you, like me, weren’t in L.A. And I’m also guessing, if you’re like me, the NBC coverage made you feel stabby.

I arrived and met all the cast of characters I’ve come to know and love in Ginkgo’s life, before learning that the local NBC affiliate chose not to air the Trials. [eye roll] Luckily, we managed to get it streaming and we awaited the race with baited breath. And then with no fanfare, hardly any backstory, and no build-up the men were on the line, horn sounding, runners off. Some shots of the leaders from the press truck, commercial break, shots from the truck, commercial break and then there were the women ready to rock it, and just like with the men, with no fanfare the horn sounded and they too hit the loops.

Desi Linden and Kara Goucher in the pack at the 2016 Olympic Trials
The lead pack rounding out their first big loop (mile 8). Photo by Cinnamon (Kyle Gorjanc/

For some reason I thought I’d see people I know. For some reason I thought I’d see more than the first pack of runners. Don’t get me wrong; the race for spots on the Olympic team was the stuff of my dreams. A few minutes after marking “breakaway pack of 4” on my Trials Bingo card, I tweeted “Have Shalane and Amy wrapped up 1 and 2?” That was around mile 17. Stars, they’re just like us: even Shalane Flanagan can feel amazing at mile 17 and have her wheels fall off at 22. Somewhere in here the NBC commentators inform us that top-seeded man “Darren Ritzenhein” dropped out, but never a mention of top-seeded woman and fan favorite Sarah Hall. [eye roll]

Back to mile 17, there was much Twittering about whether Desi or Kara was going to be third as they were running closely together at this point. However, I knew it wasn’t even a question that Desi would win this contest. I knew this because I talked to Cinnamon on the phone who spoke with Desi and saw the certainty on her face and heard the unwavering confidence in her voice on Thursday afternoon.

Desi at the pre-race press conference on Thursday, February 11, 2016. Photo by Cinnamon (Kyle Gorjanc/
Desi at the pre-race press conference on Thursday, February 11, 2016. Photo by Cinnamon (Kyle Gorjanc/

I knew, beyond words on a page, that Desi was hungry, Desi had a plan, and Desi was making that team unless something unforeseen happened, which can always happen. When I saw Desi’s relaxed stride compared to Kara’s much more labored appearance, I knew. I knew Desi was going to Rio. (You can see what I mean in this gif from mile 14. Also note Janet Bawcom, who received no coverage despite being an Olympian and running an incredible race for 5th place!)


It was just getting good and …. cut to the men. That’s cool. We can cut to the men. Galen (not Ryan Hall, announcer guy! [rolls eyes … again]) breaks the tape. Meb joyfully makes another Olympic Team. Jared Ward and his mustache cruise in for a cooling off session with Meb and to incidentally become an Olympian.

Ok, go back to the women!

More Galen. Make that inane chatter about Galen and his first marathon and bla, bla, bla. Nothing about any controversies, of course. Oh, and they reminded us that Meb is old … again.

Oh COME ON! I plead to NBC on Twitter to get back to the women. (And seriously, would it have been difficult to split screen this? Or would that be like split screening an NBA game with a WNBA game? [Ouch! My eyes!])

Frickin finally! And we’re back! Last we left them, Shalane seemed to be leading Amy, but now the tables were turned. Amy was more animated and Shalane’s eyes had that panicky look in them that one gets on the verge of losing her wheels. And then in the distance, a black-clad shadowy figure emerged in the background of the TV screen.

It was Desi, the huntress zoning in on the wounded antelope. Amy, sensing the danger, tried to save her friend, but she knew she had to trust Shalane could handle it and hurried off to the safe harbor of the finish zone. As Desi passed the faltering Shalane for second, the announcers spoke of it like she was crashing a party, as if they didn’t know that Amy and Desi were college teammates and good friends. Oh, riiiiiiight. [My eyes fell out a couple of miles ago.]

Yes, an incredible race! We all know what happened after that.

Photo by Ginger Jinger Moore/
“Sweet baby Jesus!” Photo by Ginger Jinger Moore/

But what was happening further back in the pack? If you only went by NBC coverage you’d think there were only four women in the race, not over two hundred! I wanted to know how Olivia Mickle, Keely Maguire, and Stephanie Dinius were faring in their first full marathons. I wanted to see Emma Polley demonstrate her supreme eliteness to LetsRun trolls everywhere. I wanted to know how the beneficiaries of the Trials standard change, like Sarah Polatas, Becki Spellman and Joanna Zeiger were doing. Did Katie Schiemann bounce back from qualifying in a full marathon four weeks ago? Were our favorite moms, Emily Potter, Ellie Hess, and Jessica Odorcic handling the heat? What about Caitlin Smith, Leah Frost, Samantha Bluske, and the ageless Colleen DeReuck? And TEA?!


In case you missed Part I of our OTM Story of the Day series, go here. Ready to get unfrustrated and find out what really happened? Head to Part III!

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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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  1. Obviously I DVRed the race and watched it as soon as I got home. I figured I hadn’t made it on TV since no one watching mentioned it (though my husband was standing behind the announcers at the start and can be seen giving a thumbs up). I know where I was when the lead pack went by (then Tyler P, Meb and Galen) and I missed being seen about 3 seconds: they went to a crummy commercial. I too was so annoyed by the time it took to switch back to the women’s race–the men’s race was OVER, let’s move on. I was also yelling at my TV the entire time as they made error after error. I’m like you, Salty, I keep hoping the coverage will be better… and it never is. (Also, I may be slightly more bitter since the reason the race was so late in the morning and 10000 degrees was entirely due to the TV coverage…)

    1. I think we saw the lead men pass you, but before we could confirm it you were so frustratingly just out of the shot. How hard would it have been to do a few shots of other runners from time to time. With a loop course you can be a lead vehicle and still see runners who aren’t in the lead. GAH! And how much are these dudes paid? Can’t they learn the names of the top contenders and a couple of sentences of back story? Or why not have Carrie Tollefson or someone who actually knows the sport lead the coverage? Why are they so stuck on these vanilla sports dudes that don’t know anything? And if they want to draw people in and grow interest in the sport they have to start covering the frickin athletes and not just the event. They cover it like a spectator sport and not like one that the audience can relate to which is what makes it so special. Sorry. Ha! It’s a sore subject 🙂

  2. I missed most of the race because I was at a bike clinic but my husband was texting me and he was like “the announcer called Galen Rupp ‘Ryan Hall’ several times” to which I could only facepalm repeatedly. That would never happen during an NFL game. Can you imagine if the announcers had kept calling Peyton Manning “Tom Brady”? But running – meh, running’s a FRINGE SPORT, like who even cares, amirite? Ugh, it makes me so stabby. Mainstream sports media is bad, and they should all feel bad.

    I’m really grateful to Salty Running for covering the Trials. At least you ladies acknowledge that it’s actually a sport worthy of being treated with respect and dignity.

  3. I have yet to track down video coverage, and I’m more curious than excited to see it. I agree with Teal – it was total BS to have us run in hot (and arguably dangerous) conditions just so they could air shitty live coverage. Providing coverage that is both boring and inaccurate only hurts the sport. There is only a limited amount of technique in running – we need context and human interest! Maybe Salty Running should be commentators next time 😀

    Also, the LA marathon was televised live early Sunday morning, but this wasn’t feasible for the Olympic Trials? If not, why not tape delay?

    P.S. Stellar race by Janet Bawcom, but almost no love! I’m glad you gave her a shout out here.

  4. So, so much was left out… How about a scroll at the bottom of the screen with other racers and their minutes behind the leader? So many good stories (think of all the back stories you hear before football games about the kid that over came whatever, or the coach who just had a parent die but showed up at the game anyway– it’s not like they don’t know how to do that kind of thing), such little coverage of what I wanted to see… blurry camera-work (did anyone else notice that?). Disappointing.

  5. Disappointing but that’s NBC sports. I guess we have to be happy it was televised at all, but I agree that a live stream by any other non-mainstream sportscaster would have been 100x better. And a 7am start could have changed the dynamics. My 7year old watched with me and we tried to figure out how far and how fast the lead runners were going in relation to her world. That, sad to say, was the highlight of our viewing. Lead coverage is great but more inspiring are the stories of so many real athletes that unlike NBA/NFL/MLB/MLS players, hold down real jobs and lives yet perform at an elite level. Now THAT is amazing and inspiring. Thanks for the real stories, Salty. Great job Tea!

  6. I LOVE Amy, Shalane, Desi & Kara. But I was dying to see some of the amazing women that I’ve come to know and admire through Salty Running and other non-mainstream media. Their stories are so inspiring and I can’t believe at least SOME of them weren’t highlighted during the coverage.

    That said, it was great that NBC broadcasted it. I was on the TM at the Y and it was fun to run ‘along’ with them to the finish. Shalane’s faltering at the end made for some interesting drama. I couldn’t help but to holler at the TV a couple of times, which garnered some strange glances. Loved seeing Desi cruise by confidently, her fist pumping as she was on her last stretch.

    Tea, congrats on your strong performance! I hope that we get some posts from you about your experience there. Dying to hear all the details!

  7. I meant to watch this at home, but did an amazing local 5k that started at 12:30 and the after party was at a restaurant/bar. So we actually got to watch it on multiple screens with a bunch of other runners, but with no audio. Maybe it was better that way!

    I come from the triathlon world and thought Ironman live coverage was bad (streaming on the Internet), but they always have a couple pros or ex-pros who know the top names in running and help with the play-by-plays. And the NBC broadcast of Ironman Hawaii always has good back stories and wins awards, but it’s not taped live.