The committee has made four significant changes:
- Gotten rid of the "A" and "B" standards and moved to one standard. All who make the one standard get expenses paid for just as "A" standard athletes did in years previous.
- That new standard for men is 2:19:00
- "Aided" courses will no longer be considered qualifying races for the Trials. Basically, all eligible courses will have to be American-record eligible which means the start and finish must be within 7.9 miles of each other and courses that are signficantly net downhill courses will be excluded. There are two stated exceptions to this rule: the New York and Boston marathons since they rarely yield fast times. Ineligible are courses such as St. George, Top of Utah and the International/Sacramento Marathon. A complete list of exceptions will be published by the USATF soon.
- They dropped the 5k qualifier and added a half marathon qualifier of 1:05.
More than anything, this change is an indication that American distance running has reached new heights. Ryan Hall and many, many others proved in November that this country is back on the world marathon scene. The Trials is a reward and an opportunity for the country's best to have a shot at running in the Olympics and the field of runners who qualify should always reflect that. With improvement in the overall US distance running field comes with it a need to tighten the standard it is measured by.
I have no idea if I am capable of a 2:19 under the new guidelines. I am not right now and don't know if I have the time or, frankly, the desire to put in the work necessary to *maybe* yield a 2:19. What may be more likely is a 1:05 half marathon esepcially since I am trying to focus the next six months on getting faster at shorter distances.
My friend and fellow Trials qualifier Paul Petersen has posted his thoughts on this as well: http://marathongis.com/blog/?p=96.