Cincinnati finalist to host 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Los Angeles, Houston also in the running

CINCINNATI – It’s down to three cities, and Cincinnati is still in the running to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Houston are the finalists, Jackie Reau, board chair of the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation, said Friday.

The winner would host both the men’s and the women’s trial races.

The three cities will make a final presentation to USA Track & Field, the sport’s national governing body, at the USATF annual meetings in December in Indianapolis, Reau said. The winner will be announced at the meetings.

Four USATF officials visited Cincinnati this month and looked over the proposed course, hotels and the convention center, and met with city leaders, Reau said.

Los Angeles will get a similar site visit on Monday. USATF and Houston officials will meet in Chicago during that city's marathon weekend next month.

Cincinnati is the newcomer in this competition.

Houston hosted the marathon trials in 2012.

L.A. hosted the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984 and plans to bid for the 2024 Games. Julie Isphording of Cincinnati competed in the Olympic marathon in L.A. in 1984.

The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in partnership with the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation put together Cincinnati’s bid with input from two-time Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall, Reau said.

Hall, winner of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, visited Cincinnati on Aug. 8 and ran the proposed course, an 8-mile loop through downtown and Northern Kentucky. After getting Hall's critique, local officials switched to a 6-mile loop.

Hall suggested the course was too hilly.

"He gave us some great feedback," Reau said. "We made it flatter and tightened it up so now it's basically a 6-mile perimeter of downtown and the riverfront."

Marathoners would run the course four times.

During his visit, Hall supported the city on its bid.

"The running community is so vibrant here. Twenty-three percent of people in Cincinnati say they run. We'd have huge crowds. It would be a really exciting atmosphere,” Hall said.

The trials would include the top 100 male and 100 female runners and attract a national TV audience and thousands of visitors.

No date has been set for the trials, but a Cincinnati event would probably be held in October, 2015.

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro Aug. 5-21.

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