Deena Kastor’s bid for her fourth Olympic Games took a tumble this week when she withdrew because of back spasms.
"Of course I’m extremely disappointed, but I have run out of options," she said in an interview with the Mammoth Times. "I am still in pain, unable to run or cross train, and so I’m left with no option but to be a spectator at the Olympic Trials."
If there is a single person who put Mammoth on the running map, it is Kastor, who as Deena Drossin was the first elite runner to actually move here, train here and evangelize the town.
Her training paid off in Athens, when she won the Olympic bronze medal in the marathon. Previous to that, she was a big-time winner in world-famous races, such as the London marathon.
She still holds U.S. records in 5k, 8k, 15k, half-marathon, and marathon.
Two weeks ago, she entered and ran in the Bolder Boulder 10k race in Colorado and finished third. It was the last race for her for the time being.
"My back was tight the week leading up to Bolder Boulder," she said. "I raced regardless, and the muscles in my back started spasming after the race.
"I flew home (to Mammoth) the day of the race and tried running the following morning. I ended up walking home from the Bluffs."
Kastor took a philosophical view of her travail.
"My training and racing was very promising," she said, "but as athletes we have to be flexible.
"I will be wiser and healthier after this is behind me, I simply must be patient with this healing process and can’t wait to get home. I sincerely hope this isn’t a career ending injury, but it is certainly taking a long time to mellow these spasms.
"As soon as I am able, I will hit the streets and trails and be running again. I just hope its sooner than later."
After five years of not running on the track, her sixth place finish at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston last January forced her hand.
She came close to the Olympic Games 10,000m "A" standard of 31:45.00 when she clocked 31:49.23 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29, at Stanford University. She had another solid effort at the USATF High Performance Meet at Occidental College in Los Angeles on May 18, running 15:23.51 for 5000m.
There was nothing to suggest she could not make the U.S. team, particularly after her performance in Boulder.
With Kastor out of contention for the team, her Mammoth Track Club training partner Amy Hastings (31:19.87 PB), road racer Janet Bawcom (31:33.50), and former NCAA 10,000m champion Lisa Uhl (31:18.07) look like the favorites to make the team.
Uhl's training partner, Shalane Flanagan, will also contest the 10,000m but has already qualified for the USA Olympic Team in the marathon and said in conference call with reporters that she's only training for the marathon at the Olympics.