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Who Will Win A Spot on the U.S. Marathon Team in Atlanta?

Our expert panel picks top 3 in the upcoming Marathon Trials. Jared Ward and Emily Sisson selected as the likely top finishers.

A large panel of U.S. marathon experts has picked Jared Ward, Leonard Korir, and Galen Rupp as most likely to finish in the top three spots in the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. The same panel picks Emily Sisson, Molly Huddle, and Sara Hall as the top three women.

The panel sees the women’s race as more competitive than the men’s; Jordan Hasay, Des Linden, and Amy Cragg are all rated close to the top three. In the men’s marathon, only Scott Fauble ranks anywhere near the top three, with roughly half as many votes.

Panelists were asked to select their top five picks in rank order, first to fifth. We then assigned five points for a first-place vote, four for second, and so on, down to one for fifth.

See below for the full vote count from our panel; the 2016 top-three results; the 2020 top-five qualifying times; and other notes on veteran U.S. Olympians competing again in Atlanta.

Ward, Rupp and Keflezighi Olympic Marathon Trials 2016
Jared Ward, Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi after qualifing for the Olympic Team at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Mens Marathon on February 13, 2016 in Los Angeles / Photo: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Men: The Expert Rankings

Jared Ward 148
Leonard Korir 141
Galen Rupp* 130
Scott Fauble 66
Parker Stinson 19
Andrew Bumbalough 18
Jerrell Mock 13
Bernard Lagat 9
Sam Chelanga 8
Chris Derrick 6
Matt Llano 6
Jacob Riley 5
Reed Fischer 5
Abdi Abdirahman 4
Patrick Smyth 4
Shadrack Biwott 3
Brogan Austin 2
Elkanah Kibet 2
Dathan Ritzenhein 2
Ryan Vail 2
CJ Albertson 1
Stanley Kebenei 1
Tyler Pennel 1
* The majority of votes were cast before Rupp’s 61:18 half-marathon tuneup on Feb. 8

Top 3 at the 2016 Los Angeles Marathon Trials

  1. Galen Rupp, 2:11:12
  2. Meb Keflezighi, 2:12:20
  3. Jared Ward, 2:13:00

Top Five Atlanta Qualifying Times

  1. Galen Rupp, 2:06:07
  2. Leonard Korir, 2:07:56
  3. Scott Fauble, 2:09:09
  4. Jared Ward, 2:09:25
  5. Jacob Riley, 2:10:36

Notes on Past Olympians

Galen Rupp has made three consecutive U.S. Olympic teams, and is by most measures the greatest American distance runner of all time. He and Ward were both Olympic marathoners in 2016, finishing third and sixth in the Rio Olympics.

Abdi Abdirahman has made four U.S. Olympic teams and will be trying for his fifth. He ran in the 2012 Olympic Marathon, but failed to qualify in 2016. Now 43, he has a marathon best of 2:08:56 from the 2006 Chicago Marathon.

Bernard Lagat has raced in five straight Olympic Games beginning in 2000. He competed for Kenya in 2000, but since then for the U.S. This year, for the first time, he is attempting to make the Olympics in the marathon. Now 45, he ran a 2:12:10 marathon last year.

Dathan Ritzenhein is a three-time U.S. Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012) with a best marathon time of 2:07:47 from the 2012 Chicago Marathon.

Sisson, Huddle and Taylor in Olympic Trials
Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson, Marielle Hall  and Kellyn Taylor competing in the final of the 10,000m during the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships. / Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Women: The Expert Rankings

Emily Sisson 124
Molly Huddle 92
Sara Hall 79
Des Linden 67
Jordan Hasay 63
Amy Cragg 47
Kellyn Taylor 24
Sally Kipyego 19
Emma Bates 13
Stephanie Bruce 5
Aliphine Tuliamuk 4
Lindsay Flanagan 2
Laura Thweatt 2
Roberta Groner 1
Molly Seidel 1
Anna Weber 1

Top 3 in the 2016 Los Angeles Marathon Trials

  1. Amy Cragg, 2:28:20.
  2. Desiree Linden, 2:28:54
  3. Shalane Flanagan, 2:29:19

Five Best Atlanta Qualifying Times

  1. Jordan Hasay, 2:20:57
  2. Amy Cragg, 2:21:42
  3. Sara Hall, 2:22:16
  4. Emily Sisson, 2:23:08
  5. Kellyn Taylor, 2:24:28

Notes on Past Olympians

Amy (Hastings) Cragg won the 10,000 meter race at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track Trials, and then won again in the Marathon Trials in 2016.

Des Linden has finished second in the last two U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and has a best Olympic showing of seventh in the 2016 Olympics. She ran a personal best, 2:22:38, while finishing second in the 2011 Boston Marathon, and in 2018 won Boston outright in stormy conditions.

Panelists: Eli Asch, Joe Battaglia, Jonathan Beverly, Marc Bloom, Michael Capiraso, Jim Estes, Mario Fraoli, Martin Fritz Huber, Peter Gambaccini, Jonathan Gault, Tom Grilk, Sean Hartnett, James Harvey, Hal Higdon, George Hirsch, Alex Hutchinson, Robert Johnson, Don Kardong, Brant Kotch,  Brett Larner, Chris Lotsbom, Steve Magness, Dave McGillivray, Greg Meyer, David Monti, Carey Pinkowski, Lisa Rainsberger, Toni Reavis, Roger Robinson, Bill Rodgers, Mary Kate Shea, Kathrine Switzer, Carrie Tollefson, Alison Wade, Chris Weiller, Mary Wittenberg, Bart Yasso