By Ben Payne
It’s here…February 2016 has arrived. I’ve had my eye on this month since November 2014 when I ran a qualifying time earning a spot to race in the US Olympic Trials Marathon. Since then, I’ve acknowledged the one year countdown…the 100 days countdown…the one month countdown…and now all of a sudden we’re less than two weeks from the big dance. It’s been an exciting, challenging, surprising, frustrating, painful, joyful, and long road of 100s of miles in the journey in preparing my mind and body for the fastest 26.2 miles I can possibly run on February 13th…on the Road to Rio.
For those outside the running world, this is the one single race that determines the three Americans that will be representing the USA in the 2016 Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 200+ men will be competing for the top 3 spots in the race – and I’ll be giving it my all to finish as high as possible.
I’m thankful and excited to be taking this journey alongside my good friend and training partner Matt Williams. This race has been a long time coming for both of us. I’m almost 12 years removed from collegiate running (USAFA ‘04), and Matt 6 years (USAFA ‘09) – and we both are thrilled to be healthy and ready to compete in our first ever Olympic Trials competition.
We want to mention our appreciation for our family, friends, fans, teammates, and supporters – including all the Air Force airmen stationed across the globe, whom we get to represent by wearing the United States Air Force logo in this prestigious championship race. We are excited to represent all of you as we chase our dreams in Los Angeles!
For those around Los Angeles interested in cheering us on as we race the streets of downtown LA, we would appreciate your encouragement on the course! The official Trials website has all the info you need: www.latrials2016.com
For those outside LA, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon will air LIVE for the first time; coverage begins Saturday, February 13, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.
A huge shout out goes out to the people who have supported and prepared me over the last 15 months to get to the starting line in Los Angeles as the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been: the US Air Force World Class Athlete Program, Pikes Peak Elite TC teammates & Coaches Juli Benson & Mark Stanforth, strength coach Carrie Lane, Massage Fitness massage therapists Jennifer Chee & Ashley Gieck, Air Force Academy sports medicine trainers, and US Military Endurance Sports (USMES).