Meet Raleigh’s 2016 United States Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers (and join them Friday)

Come and meet Raleigh’s 2016 United States Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers this Friday, February 5th at Runologie (RSVP here). Sir Walter Running will co-host a First Friday reception/send off, which will be held from 6-8 pm, with a “Question and Answer” panel with the athletes starting at 7pm. Runologie will be showing the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon on the big screen, and will provide snacks. Trophy Brewing will provide beverages and Pat will have his Prefon (Peach) Saison to sample, as well (and some RUNNING/brewing swag). We’ll have all remaining Sir Walter Miler shirts for sale for $5 each (while they last), and coffee mugs for $2. All donations and proceeds will go towards putting on the 2016 Sir Walter Miler! 

If you have a question for one of the local competitors, please send it to SirWalterRunning@gmail.com and we’ll ask them Friday.

February 1, 2016 – Raleigh, NC – On Saturday, February 13th in Los Angeles, CA, the best marathoners in the country will compete for a chance to represent the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Raleigh will be well represented in the event, with multiple participants/qualifiers. Former NC State standouts Andie Cozzarelli and Stephen Furst will hope to capitalize on promise shown in their recent national class half marathon times, and newcomer, Melissa Hardesty, will look to improve on a streak of strong recent marathons. Cary’s Michelle Langan also qualified en route to winning the 2014 City of Oaks Marathon in 2:39:20. Cozzarelli, Furst, and Hardesty all answered a few questions about their qualification race, preparation for the trials, and the Raleigh running community; and will be on hand for the First Friday event at Runologie to answer questions in person.

The race will be broadcast live, starting at 1pm, on NBC. NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected televisions, will live stream the coverage.

The start of the 2012 Women's Olympic Trials Marathon(Photo: Runner's World)
The start of the 2012 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon
(Photo: Runner’s World)

5 Questions Raleigh’s 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers

1. What does qualifying for Olympic Trials Marathon mean to you?

Stephen Furst: It’s a good feeling knowing that I can still run with some of the best. I come from a running family, and for me racing started so long ago, when I was like 5. My running at a race like this is still something that brings my family together and gets us all excited.

Andie Cozzarelli: Qualifying for the trials gave me my passion for running back. After a difficult end to my collegiate career and a frustrating year of racing, I had lost my love of the sport and thought about quitting. Getting the trials mark turned my running career around and has helped me spread my passion for the sport to others.

Melissa Hardesty: I feel really lucky to qualify for the trials. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that I thought about qualifying for the trials at least once during every run I’ve done for the past 5 years.

andie cozzarelli salming oiselle
Andie Cozzarelli will represent Oiselle and Salming in Los Angeles

2. What is your goal for the race?

Stephen Furst: The same as it was for the 5k at the 2012 trials. I want to be as prepared as possible for 1 day, and execute my best race on that day. That is the real value of athletics for a semi(non)-professional like me. Learn to prepare for and perform in one moment. That didn’t happen in 2012, as my preparation was hampered by injury. Getting it all (including injury/illness/fitness) right is so hard, its an achievement to just do all that. Unfortunately, the marathon is a race of attrition, so to correlate my goal with others in the field by saying “I want to finish top 3” is not wise. Then I have no choice to go out with the leaders, and nothing I have done in my career or preparation indicates that I’m capable of running 26 miles at 4:55 pace.

Andie Cozzarelli: My goal is take chances and run confidently. I don’t know what to expect for my first marathon, so I just want to race without holding back and be proud the result, no matter what happens.

Melissa Hardesty: My goal is to run strong and enjoy the experience.

3. What is your favorite place to run in Raleigh area?

Stephen Furst: I have always been a fields guy, so I really like the big field at (Dorothea) Dix (Park). I also like the stretch of grass along Lake Wheeler Road just north of where Centennial Parkway comes in. You crest that hill and have a great view of the city.

Andie Cozzarelli: Raleigh’s awesome greenway network!

Melissa Hardesty: My favorite place to run is the ATT (American Tobacco Trail).

Melissa Hardesty leads the way to a trials qualifer (Photo: Wendy Shulik)
Melissa Hardesty leads the way to a trials qualifer
(Photo: Wendy Shulik)

4. What race did you qualify and how’d it hit you to know you’d qualified for the Marathon Trials?

Stephen Furst: I qualified back in 2013 at the Big Sur Half (Marathon). I wasn’t sure if I was even going to run the trials, and in fact I “retired” from competitive running between June 2014 and June 2015. But when I qualified in 2013, I knew there was a chance I’d want to use that mark. My tune-up half earlier this month (in Jacksonville, FL) actually went really well, so I qualified again.

Andie Cozzarelli: I qualified at the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon. I was in shock. I was confident going in, but had no idea I would run what I ran. The actual reality of qualifying for the full marathon didn’t hit me for about a month.

Melissa Hardesty: I qualified at CIM (California International Marathon) in 2015. I made a last minute decision to run that race only a month after missing the standard in Indianapolis. It hit me in little moments scattered over the last several weeks. I didn’t feel overwhelming emotion at the finish line, like I had always imagined I would. I cried when I saw one of my former teammates from Chicago who was at the race. Another day about two weeks later, I was driving to work, and I thought, “I”m going to the Olympic Trials!” I guess I have tiny bursts of excitement.

Stephen Furst (Photo: photorun.net)
Stephen Furst competes in 2013 in Brooklyn
(Photo: photorun.net)

5. How has the Raleigh running community helped shape you as a runner?

Stephen Furst: Goodness, this brings up a point that bugs me. The NC State distance programs are among the best in the county. Incredible, talented young people putting it all on the line year in year out with amazing results. That program brought me from a walk-on who would barely hack it in Division I to an ACC champion, All-American, and 2x (Olympic) Trials qualifier. But I wonder if many in the Raleigh running community even realize that program is there operating at such a high level right under their noses? At one point, in 2010-2011, with Ryan Hill, Bobby Mack, and I, we had 3 of the top 15 distance runners in the whole country. One of the strongest groups anywhere. But we were so focused on the run or workout or week that was right in front of us – self-involved I’d say – we never reached out to inspire anybody. I don’t regret that per se, because that quiet focus is key to building the edge. But I think you guys have the right idea with the work you are doing now, events like this and Sir Walter (Miler). I’m really happy to be a part of it.

Andie Cozzarelli: The Raleigh running community has gotten me to where I am today. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the people in this city for supporting me and lifting me up when I was down. I struggled with my confidence in the past so having such a support network has made all the difference!

Melissa Hardesty: Raleigh obviously has a great running community. I started out running some of the races in the Second Empire Series, though I never raced enough to contend for a series win. But, I love the seriousness with which people go after the series–all the way from the overall winners to the age groupers. Then, I started running with what would become the Runologie crew on some weekends, and that got me motivated and excited about really tackling the marathon. There are a lot of people in Raleigh that take running really seriously, and I like that. Running is a great and simple way to connect with people, and Raleigh has a lot of great places to run and people to run with. With so many fantastic runners in the area, I have a better idea of where I stack up. It keeps me motivated and appropriately humble. There are some seriously fast people around here!

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