We are only 2 months away from the US Men's Marathon Trials in Birmingham, AL on Feb 7.

In an early breakdown of the contenders it appears that two groups emerge. The strong contenders for the spots (Favorites) and the Dark Horses.

Favorites include:
K. Khannouchi
A. Culpepper
M. Keflezighi
D. Browne
J. Hearld
R. DeHaven
K. Dowling

(all have run 2:13 or better in the past 18 months)

Dark Horses include:
M. Coogan
R. Shay
J. Cox
S. Larson
T. Mitchell
S. Strand
P. Hanneck
B. Hauser
K. Baker
C. Verran
P. Ce La Cera
T. Reeser
J. Jurcevich
K. Collins

(any of these would need to improve 3 or 4 minutes or more over their most recent performances)

Logic says it should come down to Khannouchi, Culpepper, Keflezighi and Browne racing for three spots but history has shown us that there is usually at least one or more of the dark horses that pull a surprise and have a major impact on the race.

Of the dark horses, I expect Hanneck and Mitchell may still be in contention at 18 to 20 miles.

Should be a interesting race. Given a slight drop in elevation on the opening part of the course and if there is no major wind issue, I'd expect for KK, Meb and Culpepper to keep the pace at an honest 4:55 to 5:00 per mile during the first 10 miles of the race to try and eliminate as many dark horses as possible.