01/12/2012, 5:18pm PST

Sacramento Running Association coach eager to enjoy the experience

For immediate release

Mary Coordt takes a humble approach to her fourth trip to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Ask the Elk Grove resident and Sacramento Running Association coach about Saturday’s 26.2-mile test in Houston and she talks about the friends she’s made in the running world, how grateful she is to simply be healthy and what a long shot this once seemed.

“I just feel so lucky to be able to go,” said the 42-year-old Coordt, a health educator/physical activity specialist.

“I never, ever fathomed I’d go to four Olympic Trials. When I started running, I didn’t even know what it was.”

She does now. And while Coordt doesn’t expect to contend for one of three spots on the U.S. Olympic team headed to London for the 2012 Games, she does plan on catching up with old friends and savoring the moment.

“The exciting part is just to see the other runners I’ve seen at other Trials,” she said. “I’m just so thankful to be healthy, have family and friends and to be out running on a daily basis.”

Coordt is one of 223 women to qualify for the race, which begins at 8:15 a.m. Central time, 15 minutes after the U.S. men’s marathon trials starts on the same course.

Several other women with local ties also attained the qualifying standard of 2:46:00,  including  Sacramento’s Jaymee Marty and Megan Daly, Gold River’s Midori Sperandeo, Roseville’s Lindsay Nelson, Folsom product Natasha LaBeaud and former UC Davis runner Linda Somers Smith

Roseville’s Tim Tollefson, one of 33 runners to qualify for the Trials at the California International Marathon last month, is in the men’s field of 158 runners. The men’s qualifying standard was 2:19:00.

The course features a 2.2-mile opening loop followed by three trips around an 8-mile outer loop.

“I’ve never really been fond of laps,” Coordt said. “They do that for the Trials in terms of spectators and media.

“I’d rather have a point to point. I feel like I’m going somewhere.”

Coordt, who ran a personal best 2:45:00 at the Twin Cities Marathon in 2009, hasn’t competed in a marathon since Napa in March of 2010. But she said she’s ready to take a shot at a personal best.

“I definitely want to be under 2:50,” she said. “If I can get close to 2:45, that would be huge.”

Women’s favorites include Desiree Davila, Shalane Flanagan and 2008 Olympians  Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Blake Russell. Ryan Hall and Dathan Ritzenhein, both 2008 Olympians, and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi head the men’s field.

Each race features a $250,000 in prize money.

Whatever happens Saturday, Coordt is set to return to Sacramento and resume her role as the SRA’s head coach. She is set on Jan. 22 to begin coaching a group of runners training for the Boston Marathon on April 16. Coordt is also scheduled to start a program next month to train runners for the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 1.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.