“This is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields in the history of the marathon,” LA Marathon CEO Tracey Russell said. “On both a national and international level, the breadth of talent is at an all-time high to set the stage for a historic race.”
Ryan Hall, the fastest American marathoner in history with his 2:04:58 at the windy 2011 Boston Marathon, was the first elite athlete announced for the year’s race. He will be joined by his wife Sara Hall, making her marathon debut.
After his 2:17:43 debut at the Chicago Marathon, Northern Arizona Elite runner Matt Llano looks to rebound in his second crack at the 26.2 mile distance. He will run the 2015 Houston Half Marathon in preparation for the race. His 61:47 personal best in the half marathon was set there last year.
“There's a big learning curve with a race that long, and even though I received advice from some of the world's top marathoners before Chicago, there's something to be said for lessons that resonate better through experience,” Llano told ESPN.com. “I've been channeling those lessons I learned in Chicago to optimize my training and set myself up for achieving the goals I have for 2015.”
Gracie Gold is the defending champion entering next week’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but that’s somehow not why she’s the envy of hordes of teenage girls across the country.
Not even close.
Over the weekend, Gold hung out on Catalina Island with her girlfriends Lorde, Jaime King, the sisters from Haim and Taylor Swift. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?
The ladies saw the sights, ate ice cream and generally looked to being having a much better time than you did doing whatever it was you were doing with your non-famous friends.
Gold and Swift, of course, go way back. Or at least all the way back to April when they publicly documented their night baking cookies and making funny faces together. As friends do.
Leaders from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington made presentations last month and will not be present while the 15 USOC board members debate the pros and cons of each offering at their meeting inside the terminal at Denver International Airport.
The board is expected to make a decision at this meeting, and when it's over, the USOC's mission will become a broader one. Yes, the No. 1 focus is giving athletes resources to get to the medal stand. But an Olympic bid is also a chance to evaluate the USOC's work in shoring up international relations, and that may quickly overshadow everything else.
The decision the USOC members are making is about more than weather, cool new venues and a catchy slogan. It's about showing international leaders they understand the International Olympic Committee's vision, including the new direction IOC president Thomas Bach pointed toward in his batch of reforms called "Agenda 2020," which is supposed to make the Olympics a more sleek, flexible and, in the best-case scenario, less-expensive endeavor.
The USOC asked all the cities to keep costs down, use facilities that were already in place and only build infrastructure the city would use even if it weren't hosting an Olympics. They all responded by presenting operating budgets under $5 billion and stressed frugality (in comparison to past Olympics, at least) in their presentations.
"It's an extraordinary partnership," said Robert Fasulo, an international sports consultant who served as chief of international relations for the USOC. "The USOC has to be confident they have the right people, who are sharing their vision and the IOC's vision, and sharing their goals and understand the importance of this."
Here's a look at the four cities and key leaders behind each proposal:
The city's leadership team is spearheaded by construction magnate John Fish -- not a flashy name outside of New England, but a well-connected businessman with experience in getting projects done. Boston has a plan that would lean on the cadre of colleges and universities in the metro area. It has some of the best sports tradition in the country, including the internationally renowned Boston Marathon. It also has a history of not delivering well on big projects -- see, The Big Dig. Question: How to ensure local harmony when you were the only city that had protesters on site of the USOC meeting where the presentations were made?
Superagent Casey Wasserman is the big name here, though by some accounts, mayor Eric Garcetti made the biggest splash at the presentation. Los Angeles is trying for its third Olympics and ran its campaign that way. But will that message come off as, "We've Got Experience" or "Been There, Done That?" More than a quarter of the USOC board members have deep ties to Los Angeles, as does former chairman Peter Ueberroth, whose success in revitalizing the Olympic movement at the 1984 Games in L.A. still holds currency in the minds of some in the movement. Questions: Would a refurbished L.A. Coliseum still be a viable centerpiece, and how does Stan Kroenke's freshly publicized proposal to build an NFL stadium play into all of this?
Giants president Larry Baer has been out front in the quest to bring the Olympics to San Francisco. There are many who dream of placing the crown jewel of sporting events in this city. But politics and protests are unpredictable here. High tech and high style is San Francisco's pitch. Some dream of boat races running under the Golden Gate Bridge and golf at Pebble Beach. Others see dollar signs -- lots of them -- and hours on buses for an Olympics that, by necessity, would be sprawling. Question: For a city that unexpectedly dropped out of the domestic campaign for 2016 because of an imploded stadium deal, is it OK to be unsure of where opening ceremonies are and where track and field events will be held?
One headliner is former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who commissioned a study that called for changes at the USOC after its last bout of turmoil a few years ago. Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is another big name. USOC leaders have long talked about finding ways to get the federal government more involved despite its ban on direct funding. Some believe the IOC wants to be a worldwide player more than just three weeks every two years, and what better place to do that than a city where the news cycle never ends? Question: Are Olympic leaders comfortable partnering with a city that has been historically harsh on them and would keep a steady glare on them for years?
In a word full of “crazies,” aka Brandi Glanville, Kenya Moore, Kate Gosselin and Terrell Owens, gymnast Shawn Johnson and snowboarder Jamie Anderson are just doing their best to stay sane. The Olympic gold medalists, who are starring on the current season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” have clearly bonded in the midst of the chaos around them.
Despite getting into a fight this week with Vivica A. Fox about her menstrual cycle (SERIOUSLY), Johnson seems to be one of the more stable contestants on the show. But it’s early. And one thing about reality television is clear -- it can make anyone lose their mind.
Please stick together, Shawn and Jamie. You need each other! If it worked out for Katniss and Peeta in the “The Hunger Games,” it can definitely work with Donald Trump.