Monday, December 5, 2011

To the Olympics (Trials) They Go

Overbeck at the Chase Corporate Challenge
I always knew the California International Marathon was fast. I once wrote it down on a list of marathons that were good Boston Marathon qualifiers. I ran it in 2008 when I desperately tried to chase a second Boston qualifying time so I could run with Liz in Beantown the following April. I may not have qualified as I had hoped--note to self: don't try to run another 26.2 after finishing your first Ironman and a hotter-than-ideal Chicago Marathon--but I ran faster than expected, given that I could barely finish 10 miles two weeks before the race.

But could California International really live up to its fast reputation when several speedy female runners needed it to as they gunned for their Olympic Trials qualifying time in what would be their last chance before the January event in Houston? (How's that for a long-winded sentence?) The answer would be a resounding yes. For some runners, December 4, 2011, will go down as a day in history, the special Sunday when they reached one tough cut-off on the road to Olympic glory. And for a few others, they'll hopefully forget that Sunday just wasn't their day. It pains me to write that, since I silently cheered for several Chicagoans after learning of their Olympic attempts over the summer. It helps to meet filmmaker Wendy Shulik, who's been chasing the women as they try to qualify and filming them for her Miles and Trials documentary, and who will get you as excited (or close to it) as she is for Trials' tribulations.

Back to that fast race on Sunday. Two OT qualifiers run--or ran since one technically lives in Portland now and the other is out in the suburbs--practically in my own backyard. Christina Overbeck, who ran a personal best 2:44:24, lived in Chicago before getting married and relocating to Portland, Ore. Not that she wasn't already fast, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of those fleet-footed Oregon Project runners rubbed off on her. Kate DeProsperis took the knowledge she gained on the CIM course in 2009 and 2010, where she finished with a 2:50 and 2:48 respectively, to whittle down her personal best even more to a 2:45:16. And this time that best was good enough to secure her a spot to the Olympic Trials. These two runners almost make their feats look easy, but a still camera shot falls far short of all the hard work, pain and probably suffering they had to put themselves through to get there.

Though she's not local, I couldn't help but notice triathlete Joanna Zeiger's name atop the leaderboard. I know world class triathletes are fast runners, even after a 1.2-mile or 2.4-mile swim and a 56-mile or 112-mile bike, but still. Zeiger finished as the sixth female with a 2:43:48. It just gets me wondering: How fast could Chrissie Wellington or Mirinda Carfrae run a marathon if they didn't swim and bike beforehand since they're sub three hours with those disciplines included?

I'll save my wandering mind for another day. Instead, I'll leave you with a random assortment of facts about two of the newest runners who will be racing in Houston on January 14.

Three things you may not have known about Kate DeProsperis:
  • She's a twin. Her sister, Carrie, is also a runner, and you'd often find the duo racing together when they both lived in Chicago.
  • Her maiden name is Reicher--you know, in case you want to check Athlinks to see how she's gotten faster.
  • She's coached by Jenny Spangler, who made the U.S. Olympic Team back in 1996 with a surprise win at the marathon Trials.
Three things you may not have known about Christina Overbeck:
  • She's a newlywed. Oops, I already mentioned that one. But don't be surprised if you start seeing a Christina Crawford topping the race results in the near future--it's the same Christina.
  • She only started running in college. Overbeck played soccer in high school and joined the cross-country team when she started attending Calvin College. 
  • She's an engineer who's been hard at work studying in the prosthetics-orthotics program at Northwestern University. The program brought her back to Chicago for a few weeks this fall, but now she's back in Portland, interning at Shriner's Children's Hospital and working with amputees.
Want to read more about the results at Sunday's California International Marathon? Check out some Chicago-focused coverage at Chicago Run Times or click here to search through the results.  

Photo courtesy of Christina Overbeck-Crawford.


  1. I was at CIM to follow these girls' journeys to the Trials. In fact, I've been following them for two years (with my video camera) and am absolutely over the moon with pride and happiness for Christina and Kate (and the other women who qualified - there were 25 in total, a record for any marathon, I do believe!) Christina and the others will be in my upcoming film, "Miles & Trials" and I am so honored that they've allowed me to follow their progress and tell their stories. Each one is unique and they all are inspirations to anyone who dreams big, whether or not she can run fast :)

  2. So cool that you were there to watch and film the race. It must have been so exciting! 25 qualifiers? WOW! I can't wait to see what you put together for "Miles and Trials"!



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