This past Saturday, February 29, 2020, I had the privilege of attending as one of thousands of spectators the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, held in the infamously hilly Atlanta, Georgia. Knowing the unfathomable (for me) Olympic Trials Qualifier standards of 2:19:00 in the marathon or 1:04:00 in the half marathon for men and 2:45:00 in the marathon or 1:13:00 in the half marathon for women, I acknowledged I was in the presence of the best of the best in America, which inspired me and should have every member in the audience. I even witnessed at least three women running pregnant and two clearly injured but refused to give up on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Probably like most fans, I knew the big names but did not know the vast majority of the participants; however, I wanted to be intentional in my cheering and yelled out as many names as I could read off their bibs. (I assume I butchered at least half of these names, so I apologize in advance!)
Galen Rupp’s triumphal return relieved me, as he had recently DNF’ed at the 2019 Chicago Marathon following major surgery. I felt even happier watching him continue to give glory to God in post-race interviews. I was pleasantly surprised to see NCAA legend Molly Seidel come in second and secure a spot on the Olympic team in her marathon debut, just like Rupp did in 2016, especially after her battle with OCD, with which I struggle daily as well. As a wannabe ultrarunner, I rooted for the king of ultrarunning, Jim Walmsley. For a trail runner who competes on rugged terrains in insane distances coming down to “only” 26.2 miles on the road and finishing in 2:15:05, especially factoring in the combination of vicious hills and wind, Walmsley reinforces how gifted of an athlete he is. I was disappointed for Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, and Sarah Hall, only because I know they have so much more in them, but this also shows how unpredictably brutal the sport of marathon can be. Des Linden, despite coming so close to making her third consecutive Olympic team, had an amazing performance, and I hope to see her capture her second Boston Marathon title on April 20, 2020.
Congratulations to every participant! You are an inspiration!
Men’s 2020 Olympians
- Galen Rupp – 2:09:20
- Jake Riley – 2:10:02
- Abdi Abdirahman – 2:10:03
Women’s 2020 Olympians
- Aliphine Tuliamuk – 2:27:23
- Molly Seidel – 2:27:31
- Sally Kipyego – 2:28:52