Mammoth Olympians Keflezighi, Hastings, Uceny take world stage

The track and field portion of the Olympic Games begin this weekend in London and for Mammoth Track Club athletes and their specialty disciplines, the four-year wait is just about over.

Morgan Uceny, in the women’s 1,500 meters, Amy Hastings in the 10,000 meters, and marathoner Meb Keflezighi all run on different days, most of them live but some on delayed broadcast.

Former Mammoth Track Club members Ryan Hall and Alistair Cragg, running for Ireland, also will run the marathon, on the final day of the Olympics on Aug. 12.

While sports aficionados of all kinds and stripes follow their sports and nations, we in Mammoth are most particular tuned to track events, middle- to long-distance running in particular.

For Mammothites who follow these athletes, the action starts on Sunday, Aug. 5, with the women’s marathon. We plan to watch it, superimposing in our minds the visage of Deena Kastor finishing first.

(We saw Kastor win a bronze in the Athens Games while we were sitting in Dodger Stadium during a jam-packed Sunday afternoon game. The team put her finish on the Jumbotron and the joint went wild.)

This time, Kastor dropped out of the running, so to speak, when she withdrew because of injury (back spasms) prior to the U.S. Olympic Trials.

In any event, women’s marathon television coverage begins on NBC at 6 a.m. Among the best hopes for Mammoth’s runners is in the 1,500 meters, where Mammoth Track Club’s Morgan Uceny enters the race(s) as the favorite in the world.

It was unclear as of Thursday which qualifying heat she would have to run to make the finals, but the qualifying heat for the 1,500 meters is Monday, Aug. 6, televised on NBC between 10 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m.

The semi-finals in the 1,500 meters are Wednesday, Aug. 8, with a television time yet to be determined as of yesterday (Thursday).

The 1,500 meters women’s final is Friday, Aug. 10, with a television time also yet to be determined, although for those following the event via Internet, the start time in London is at 7:21 p.m., placing it around 11: 21 a.m. Pacific Time.

The women’s 10,000 meters features Mammoth Track Club’s Hastings, who ran the race of her life in Eugene at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

There, she defeated Shalene Flanagan in the closest finish in that race in Trials history.

(Flanagan, an Oregon Track Club athlete who frequently trains in Mammoth, will not run in the 10,000 meters; she qualified for the more prestigious marathon and will forego the 10,000-meter race.)

The women’s 10,000 meters is Friday, Aug. 3, to be televised at 3:25 p.m. on NBC.

Finally, Keflezighi, Hall, and Cragg all run in the jewel of all the Olympic events, the men’s marathon. Although the event begins in London at 11 a.m. (3 a.m. Pacific Time), NBC will not pick up the coverage until 5 a.m. The early risers following the race via Internet therefore will see the end of the race before the television audience does.

All of this is a bit on the confusing side, but as the Olympics progress, those who are watching will have a better idea as to start times and more precise television coverage.

And if you’re not watching (save for the aforementioned events) run on over to a friend’s house to see what’s up. Our advice is to run middle- to long-distance.