By D.C. Lucchesi
In a state more famous for tobacco and sweet potatoes, North Carolina has cultivated quite a field of distance runners hoping to represent the United States in the London Olympics. Their next hurdle, pardon the pun, is January’s Olympic Marathon Trials, run in conjunction with the Houston Marathon. And for the first time, both the men’s and women’s hopefuls will run the same course on the same day at the same time.
David Jankowski is one of the 13 North Carolinians who earned a shot at making the marathon team. Training with ZAP Fitness in Blowing Rock, Jankowski says his coaches and fellow athletes are a source of motivation and inspiration.
“You learn from everyone (at ZAP Fitness),” he says. “Everyone comes in with a different background ... some of these runners were Foot Locker finalists, some never ran in college at all, but they all have something to offer.”
In qualifying at the Twin Cities Marathon, Jankowski’s goal of making the World Championships didn’t materialize. He’s understandably a little more conservative headed to Houston. “I would consider it a good day to finish in the top five and then somehow be able to sneak on the (Olympic) team.”
Charlotte’s Megan Hepp Hovis had a different reward in mind in qualifying: Her husband promised her a puppy. “Honestly, I ran it for the puppy,” Hovis confessed.
Her floppy-eared prize notwithstanding, Hovis says staying healthy and logging mega-miles were part of her game plan. She owes her mates in the Charlotte Running Club for seeing her through 100-plus-mile weeks and pre-dawn headlamp runs in preparation for Houston.
“It’s made all the difference,” says Hovis. “With the club, there was always someone to run with – no matter what.”
And the Houston Marathon brass are impressed with North Carolina’s representation at the trials, too. "North Carolina has always had a sound running reputation,” said race director Brant Kotch. “We are looking forward to hosting (them) as part of one of the strongest trials fields ever.”
Here’s who’s representing North Carolina in the trials at the Houston Marathon.
Bank of America Chicago Marathon – 2:44:34
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – 2:41:53
Under Armour Baltimore Marathon – 2:16:46
USA Half-Marathon Championships – 1:04:23
Megan Hepp Hovis
Gold Coast Airport Marathon – 2:45:42
Grandma’s Marathon – 2:38:06
USA Men’s Marathon Championships – 2:16:15
USA Women’s Marathon Championships – 2:37:29
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon – 1:04:12
USA Women’s Half-Marathon Championships – 1:14:23
Grandma’s Marathon – 2:44:50
Mercedes Marathon – 2:45:01
Grandma’s Marathon – 2:45:14
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