Image Source: Getty / Kevin C. Cox
After 26.2 miles on a windy Saturday in Atlanta, on one of the hilliest Olympic marathon trial courses, three women and three men qualified to represent Team USA at Tokyo 2020. There was a huge field of starters this year, the largest ever — 235 men and 450 women, according to NBC. That's 685 marathoners total compared to 364 back in 2016.
Winners of that Tokyo ticket on the women's side include first-place-finisher (2:27:23) Aliphine Tuliamuk, first-time marathoner Molly Seidel, and Olympian Sally Kipyego. Yep, you read that right: Molly had never competed 26.2 miles before these trials. "It truly takes a village with this one," the 25-year-old Notre Dame alum said after the fact. She thanked her support system for believing in her, naming them as the reason she was able to achieve this feat. You can watch the moment Molly crossed the finish line below.
Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympic Games for both Aliphine and Molly. Sally won a silver medal in the 10,000-meter at the 2012 Olympics for her native country of Kenya before becoming an official US resident in 2017.
As for the men, Galen Rupp, Olympic bronze medalist in the Rio marathon, won with a time of 2:09:20. He's joined by first-time Olympian Jacob Riley and Abdi Abdirahman, who will be going on to his fifth Olympic Games. At 43 years old, Abdi is the oldest man to represent Team USA in the Olympic marathon and, on top of that, the oldest US Olympic runner in history.
Des Linden, the 2018 Boston marathon winner and one of the favourites in the women's field going into these trials, came in fourth. She was the only Rio 2016 marathon team member who returned to this year's Olympic trials. Four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, who finished in sixth place at Rio, retired in the Fall of 2019, and Amy Cragg, who finished ninth, withdrew from the trials due to illness.
Sticking with the leading pack of women at the very start of this race was 16-year-old Tierney Wolfgram, a cross country runner from Minnesota, who, according to Runner's World, qualified for the trials with her performance at the 2018 Twin Cities Marathon. Also running was 28-year-old Alaska native Megan Youngren, who made history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the US Olympic marathon trials. Tierney finished in 76th place with a time of 2:42:47, and Megan received place 230 with a time of 2:50:27.
The 2020 Olympic marathon course was moved from Tokyo to Sapporo, which will reportedly be flat compared to the trials course athletes ran on Feb. 29. We can't wait to see these six marathoners stride overseas for Team USA!
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 24 on NBC.