The U.S. Olympic team is finally bound for Japan. Despite still being called Tokyo 2020, a year has gone by in the lives of the American runners who competed to be part of this elite group. The extra year allowed youth to be served, as several rising stars finished in the top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials who might not have been there a year ago, and some aging runners missed the spots they were ready to fill. But a few savvy veterans also showed their competitive grit to earn their place on the team.
Here’s a rundown of every runner who made the 2021 U.S. Olympic track team in every distance from the 100m to the marathon. All track and field events will be held in Tokyo’s historic National Stadium, which was used as the main stadium for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo but entirely renovated for this year’s Olympics, while the marathons will be held in the city of Sapporo.Section divider
Women’s final: July 31
Men’s final: Aug.1
- Javianne Oliver, 26, Monroe, Ga., Nike, 10.99
- Teahna Daniels, 24, Orlando, Fla., Nike, 10.96
- Jenna Prandini, 28, Clovis, Calif., Puma, 10.92
With Sha’Carri Richardson out of the games because of a one-month suspension for marijuana use, Jenna Prandini, fourth at the trials, will take her spot. Prandini was the 2015 NCAA National Champion at the distance, and will also compete in the 200m at the Games. Javianne Oliver, a former Kentucky star, has had more success at shorter sprints indoors but looked superb in the prelims and the final of the 100 with a new PR of 10.83 (wind-aided). Teahana Daniels has had a breakout season with PRs in every distance from 60m to 300m indoors and both the 100m (10.84) and 200m (22.54) outdoors.
How They Compete: Richardson, ranked No. 2 in the world, will be missed; there are four Jamaican runners who have run 10.87 or faster, so it should be an exciting Olympic final.
- Trayvon Bromell, 25, Jacksonville, Fla., New Balance, 9.80
- Ronnie Baker, 27, Morgan City, La., Nike, 9.85
- Fred Kerley, 26, College Station, Texas, Nike, 9.86
Once a potential challenger to Usain Bolt as the world’s top sprinter, Trayvon Bromell had a huge comeback a year after Achilles injuries sidelined him for much of 2017, 2018 and 2019. While Bromell ran a 9.90 last year in a small meet in Florida, he really hadn’t been competitive on the world scene since he placed eighth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He leads the world this year with the 9.77 he ran in early June in Miramar, Fla. Ronnie Baker is a great story about perseverance, the 27-year-old making his first U.S. outdoor national team of his career with a PB of 9.85 in the Olympic Trials final. Fred Kerley, meanwhile, opted to run the 100m and 200m instead of the 400m, an event he won at the 2017 NCAA and U.S. championships and in which he brought home bronze from the 2019 World Championships — and his choice paid off with a spot on the team.
How They Compete: If Bromell remains at the top of his game, he will be the gold-medal favorite, while Baker and Kerley should also be finalists and medal contenders.Section divider
Women’s final: Aug. 3
Men’s final: Aug. 4
- Gabby Thomas, 24, Austin, Texas, New Balance/Buford Bailey Track Club, 21.61
- Jenna Prandini, 28, Clovis, Calif., Puma, 21.89
- Anavia Battle, 22, Inkster, Mich., Ohio State, 21.95
Gabby Thomas is a Harvard graduate who is working toward a master’s degree in epidemiology and, now, after her Trials-record-setting final, the second-fastest 200-meter runner in history, trailing only the late Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34). Jenna Prandini earned her second straight spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 200 after making it to the semifinals of the Rio Olympics. Ohio State senior Anavia Battle has come on strong after placing third at the NCAA Championships in early June.
How They Compete: If Thomas continues her ascension, she’ll be hard to beat in Tokyo, even though Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (21.79) and Shericka Jackson (21.82) will be in the hunt for gold.
- Noah Lyles, 23, Gainesville, Fla., Adidas, 19.74
- Kenny Bednarek, 22, Montverde, Fla., Nike, 19.78
- Erriyon Knighton, 17, Tampa, Fla., Adidas, 19.84
Five years ago at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, Noah Lyles was a fast-rising high school star who placed fourth in the 200m in a national high school record-time of 20.09. As a pro, he won the gold medal in that event at the 2019 World Championships and helped the U.S. reclaim gold in the 4×100 relay. Lyles is running as well as he ever has, dominating the fastest 200m final in U.S. Olympic Trials history with a world-leading 19.74 clocking. Kenny Bednarek set PRs in the 100m (9.89) and 200m (19.78) at the Olympic Trials, while Erriyon Knighton, who turned pro in January during his junior year in high school, broke Usain Bolt’s under-18 world record of 20.13. It’s been an amazing rise for someone who only started running competitively in 2019 as a freshman in high school.
How They Compete: All three runners should make the Olympic final and could be in the mix for the medals.Section divider
Men’s final: Aug. 5
Women’s final: Aug. 6
- Quanera Hayes, 29, Salisbury, N.C., Nike, 49.78
- Allyson Felix, 35, Santa Clarita, Calif., Athleta, 50.02
- Wadeline Jonathas, 23, Columbia, S.C., Adidas 50.03
Quanera Hayes, who started her career at NCAA Division II HBCU Livingstone College, has been running her best since her strongest years of 2016-2017. She earned a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in 2016 and was eighth in the U.S. Olympic Trials final later that year. She stepped away from competition in 2018-2019 while welcoming her son, Demetrius, into the world, but has come back strong this year, punctuated by her near-PR 49.78 win at the Olympic Trials. Meanwhile, legendary sprinter Allyson Felix is hungry for more — specifically a record-tying 10th Olympic medal — and showed she’s back to top form after giving birth to daughter Camryn into 2018. Haitian-born Wadeline Jonathas made huge progress in the 400 in 2019 — dropping her lifetime best from 52.81 to 49.60 in a single season at the University of South Carolina — capped by a fourth-place finish at the Doha World Championships.
How They Compete: All three currently rank in the top dozen in the world by times, and Felix, of course, knows how to medal. But they’ll face strong competition from sprint powers Bahamas, Namibia and Jamaica.
- Michael Norman, 23, Los Angeles, Calif, Nike, 44.07
- Michael Cherry, 26, Los Angeles, Nike, 44.35
- Randolph Ross, 20, Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina A&T, 44.74
Michael Norman has been one of the world’s top 400-meter runners since 2017, when he placed fourth at the NCAA Championships (44.77) as a freshman. He turned pro the next year after winning the NCAA title and has since lowered his PR to 43.45, which puts him at No. 4 on the all-time list. Michael Cherry has really started to shine since training under legendary sprint coach John Smith, lowering his PR twice this season to 44.35. North Carolina A&T sophomore Randolph Ross, the son of 2004 U.S Olympic hurdler Duane Ross, is the world leader in the 400 based on the 43.85 mark he ran on his way to winning the 2021 NCAA Championships on June 11.
How They Compete: All three runners could make the Olympic final and an American sweep of the medals, led by Norman, isn’t out of the realm of possibility.Section divider
Women’s final: Aug. 3
Men’s final: Aug. 4
- Athing Mu, 19, College Station, Texas, Nike, 1:56.07
- Raevyn Rogers, 24, Eugene, Ore., Nike, 1:57.66
- Ajeé Wilson, 27, Philadelphia, Pa., Adidas, 1:58.39
Athing Mu is an international superstar in the making. At the end of June, she’s the world leader in the 800m (1:56.07) and No. 4 in the world in the 400m (49.57) — and could have likely contended for gold in both events if the Olympics schedule had made it possible. She won the NCAA title in the 400 two weeks ago to conclude her first and only season for Texas A&M, and (after turning pro, signing with Nike and saying she’ll continue to be coached by Al Jennings, who has guided her progress since she was 5) she looked smooth and effortless in each of her three 800 races at the Olympic Trials, especially during her dominating win in the final. Raevyn Rogers won three straight NCAA 800m titles at Oregon and was the silver medalist at the 2019 World Championships. Last year, Rogers started running with Pete Julian’s group in Portland, Ore., after leaving Derek Thompon’s Philadelphia-based group, where she trained with Ajeé Wilson. Wilson, the American record-holder (1:55.61) and a two-time bronze medalist at the world championships, secured her second trip to the Olympics, where she’ll aim to improve on her experience in Rio when she failed to advance to the final.
How They Compete: This is by far the deepest and fastest women’s 800m trio the U.S. has ever had, and they could all make the finals in Tokyo. With her closing speed, Mu looks to be hard to beat for the gold.
- Clayton Murphy, 26, Akron, Ohio, Nike, 1:43.17
- Isaiah Jewett, 24, Los Angeles, USC, 1:43.85
- Bryce Hoppel, 23, Lawrence, Kan., Adidas, 1:44.14
About 18 months after returning to Akron, Ohio, to reunite with college coach Lee LaBadie, Clayton Murphy announced his presence with authority (despite a hamstring problem) and looked solid in three rounds at the Trials. Under LaBadie, he won two NCAA titles and a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games before earning the 2016 bronze medal in Rio and becoming the fourth-fastest American (1:42.93) in the 800. Isaiah Jewett, who just finished his senior season at USC, won the NCAA Championships on June 11 and lowered his PR three times to a solid 1:43.85 with his bold, front-running style, while two-time NCAA champion Bryce Hoppel, who finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships, is having another strong season in his third year as a pro after a standout collegiate career in Kansas.
How They Compete: All three Americans could make the Olympic final, but if Murphy is healthy, he’s the one to bet on earning another medal.Section divider
Women’s final: Aug. 6
Men’s final: Aug. 7
- Elle Purrier St. Pierre, 26, Boston, Mass, New Balance Boston, 3:58.03
- Cory McGee, 29, Boulder, Colo., Team Boss, 4:00.67
- Heather MacLean, 25, Boston, Mass, New Balance Boston, 4:02:09
Elle Purrier St. Pierre has been on a steep upward trajectory since 2019. She’s one of only a handful of U.S. runners to have broken 2:00 in the 800, 4:00 in the 1500 and 15:00 in the 5,000, and she’s been in commanding, record-setting form in 2021. That was especially evident in the 1,500 final at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she ran away from a strong field to win in a meet record 3:58.03. Corey McGee made her first Olympic team in her third Olympic Trials and has vastly improved since moving to Boulder two years ago to join Team Boss. Heather MacLean, like Purrier St. Pierre, has excelled with Team New Balance Boston coached by Olympian Mark Coogan.
How They Compete: Purrier St. Pierre is the most likely finalist and medal contender in Tokyo. Even though her 3:58 ranks her No. 6 in the world this year as of June 27, she’s still several seconds from the 3:53’s posted by the likes of Sifan Hasson and Faith Kipyegon.
- Cole Hocker, 20, Eugene, Ore., Oregon, 3:35.28
- Matthew Centrowitz Jr., 31, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 3:35.34
- Yared Nuguse, 22, South Bend, Ind., Notre Dame, 3:36.19
At just 20 years old and only two years out of high school, Cole Hocker is poised to become the next great American miler under the direction of Oregon associate head coach Ben Thomas. The Oregon sophomore won the 1,500 at the 2021 NCAA Championships (and placed third at the 5,000m) before winning the Olympic Trials final on June 27. Matthew Centrowitz, Jr., the 2016 Olympic 1,500 champion who transitioned from coach Alberto Salazar to Pete Julian after 2019, is a savvy veteran who showed he’s near top form and, just as important, still hungry at age 31. Yared Nuguse, who graduated from Notre Dame cum laude with a degree in biochemistry in May, set a new collegiate record in May (3:34.68) before finishing as the runner-up to Hocker at the NCAA Championships. He’s raced well and, like Hocker, usually has a strong kick, which is more important than PRs, given the always-tactical Olympic races.
How They Compete: Each of these guys could make the finals and contend for a medal, but Centrowitz is the most likely, given his experience.Section divider
Men’s final: Aug. 2
Women’s final: Aug. 4
- Emma Coburn, 30, Boulder, Colo., New Balance/Team Boss, 9:09.41
- Courtney Frerichs, 28, Beaverton, Ore., Nike/Bowerman Track Club, 9:11.79
- Val Constien, 25, Boulder, Colo., Tracksmith, 9:18.34
Emma Coburn seems to be getting better every year. She’s a nine-time U.S. steeplechase champion, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 2017 world champion and 2019 world championships silver medalist, the latter two since being coached by her husband, Joe Bosshard. She’s spent more time training at altitude in the past couple of years and hasn’t lost a step speed wise, based on the 9:08.22 she ran at the Diamond League meet in Doha in late May and her strong performance at the Olympic Trials. Although she’s often a runner-up to Coburn, Courtney Frerichs is the American record-holder in the steeplechase (9:00.85), not to mention the silver medalist at the 2017 World Championships and the sixth-place finisher in 2019. Val Constien is young and inexperienced, but she’s made a big improvement this year and comes from a strong pedigree at the University of Colorado. (She’s the fifth Olympian coached by Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs since 2008, following in the path of Jenny Simpson, Billy Nelson, Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp.)
How They Compete: Coburn and Frerichs should be finalists and medal contenders, given that they’re ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in the world, respectively, as of June 27.
- Hilary Bor, 31, Colorado Springs, HOKA One One, 8:21.34
- Benard Keter, 29, Colorado Springs, U.S. Army, 8:21.81
- Mason Ferlic, 27, Ann Arbor, Mich., Tracksmith, 8:22.05
The Kenyan-born Hilary Bor looked great at the Olympic Trials, taking charge of his semifinal race and the final to earn his second straight trip to the Olympics. He’s finished in the top three in the U.S. championships every year since 2016 and owns an 8:08.41 PR from the 2019 World Championships in Doha. His American Distance Project training teammate and fellow native of Kenya Benard Keter has continued to improve since his fourth-place finish in the 2019 Pan Am Games and looks to be ready to ascend to the world level. Mason Ferlic, a former NCAA champion at Michigan, rejuvenated his career after a few down years and, working with coach Ron Warhurst and the Very Nice Track Club, has set new PRs in the 1,500, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase (8:18.49).
How They Compete: Bor is the most likely to make the final and contend for a medal, given that he placed seventh in the Rio Olympics and owns a competitive PR.Section divider
Women’s final: Aug. 2
Men’s final: Aug. 6
- Elise Cranny, 25, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 15:27.81
- Karissa Schweizer, 25, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 15:28.11
- Rachel Schneider, 29, Flagstaff, Ariz., HOKA One One, 15:29.56
Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer have made a smooth transition from record-setting collegiate runners to world-class professionals. While they have limited international experience, they’ve both dropped their PRs from 800m to 10,000m since training under Jerry Schumacher and Shalane Flanagan in the Nike Bowerman Track Club. They set their 5,000m PRs at a private meet on the Nike campus last year —14:26.34 for Schweizer and 14:48.02 for Cranny — but those times can be competitive if they can hang with the tactics they’ll encounter on the Olympic track. Rachel Schneider has had a breakthrough season this year as she’s moved up from the 1,500m to race longer distances. Her 14:52.04 PR race in May followed a world-class effort (31:09) in the 10,000m last December.
How They Compete: All three U.S. women could make the final and be in the mix, but top-tier runners in the 5,000 will dictate a race that could possibly wind up in the sub-14:20 range.
- Paul Chelimo, 30, Colorado Springs, Colo., Nike, 13:26.82
- Grant Fisher, 24, Portland, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 13:27.01
- Woody Kincaid, 28, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 13:27.13
Kenyan-born Paul Chelimo was third in the 5,000 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and went on to earn the silver medal in Rio. He was seventh at the 2019 World Championships, but seems to be in prime form in 2021 despite turning 30 last October. Chelimo is one of many Olympians and and World Championships competitors produced by the Colorado Springs-based American Distance Project training group under the guidance of coach Scott Simmons. Meanwhile, Nike Bowerman Track Club teammates Grant Fisher and Woody Kincaid represent the cream of the crop of the next generation of top American distance running talent under coach Jerry Schumacher.
How They Compete: Although they have little international experience, their PRs (12:58 for Kincaid, 13:02 for Fisher) suggest they can be competitive at the world level. All three could make the final in Tokyo, but Chelimo, with his experience and aggressive demeanor in the face of competition, seems like the most likely medal contender. Although an all-out 5,000m race isn’t likely in the Olympics, it’s certainly reasonable the final will start moderately fast and ramp up to sub-13:10-minute pace.Section divider
Men’s final: July 30
Women’s final: Aug. 7
- Emily Sisson, 29, Phoenix, Ariz., New Balance, 31:03.82
- Karissa Schweizer, 25, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 31:16.52
- Alicia Monson, 23, Boulder, Colo., On Athletics Club, 31:18.55
Emily Sisson was severely disappointed in not making the U.S. Olympic team in the marathon at the 2020 trials race in Atlanta — she dropped out at mile 21 — but she regrouped and put all of her energy into making the team in the 10,000. Sisson, still guided by college coach Ray Tracey, was 10th in the 2019 World Championship but spent the next year focusing on the marathon. This year, she got faster and lowered her 5,000 PR by 17 seconds to 14:53.84, then ran a commanding race in searing heat to win the Olympic Trials with negative splits (15:49, 15:12). After an impeccable collegiate career at Missouri, Karissa Schweizer joined the Nike Bowerman Track Club in 2018 and, at 25, has become one of the premier American distance runners. In her first Olympic Trials, she earned qualifying spots in the 5,000 and 10,000, joining Molly Huddle (2016), Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher (2008) and Elva Dryer (2000) as the only women to pull off that feat since the 10,000 became an Olympic event for women in 1996. Alicia Monson isn’t yet a household name, but she’s a former NCAA 5,000 champion at Wisconsin and coach Dathan Ritzenhein has been raving about her development for six months. She ran her heart out in the trials, to the point of being hospitalized and needing an IV after the race.
How They Compete: The women’s 10,000 has gotten considerably faster the last few years, but especially so in recent weeks. Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey lowered the world record to an astonishing 29:01.03 on June 9, just two days after Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan had lowered it to 29:06.82. In both cases, that’s 4:41 mile pace, considerably faster than the 4:57 pace of the PRs of Schweizer (30:47) and Sisson (30:49). Those two plus the fast-rising Monson (31:10) could be contenders for medals if they lower their PRs again — just the way Flanagan did when she took silver in 2008 (30:22) — as medals for the last three Olympics have been earned in the 29:17-30:30 range.
- Woody Kincaid, 28, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 27:53.62
- Grant Fisher, 24, Beaverton, Ore., Nike Bowerman Track Club, 27:54.29
- Joe Klecker, 24, Boulder, Colo., On Athletics Club, 27:54.90
Nike Bowerman Track Club teammates Grant Fisher and Woody Kincaid have only run a handful of 10,000m races in their careers, so their PRs (27:11 for Fisher and 27:12 for Kincaid, both set in February this year) aren’t the biggest factor to consider as they head to the Olympics. They’ve continued to improve and showed poise beyond their years at the Trials, but almost all of their experience has come in domestic time-trial races and not championship-style events with surges and speedy closing times. Joe Klecker, a second-year pro with the On Athletics Club under coach Dathan Ritzenhein, has only three 10,000m races under his belt (all since December), but he showed grit in finishing third at the Olympic Trials. (His mom, Janis Klecker, was a 1992 U.S. Olympic marathoner.)
How They Compete: If Fisher, Kincaid and Klecker want to hang with the world’s best at 10,000m and contend for a medal, they’ll have to likely run between 26:45 to 27:15, the approximate range of times for medalists of the past six global championships, with a final lap in the low 50s.Section divider
Women’s final: Aug. 2
Men’s final: Aug. 5
- Keni Harrison, 28, Austin, Texas, Adidas, 12.47
- Christina Clemons, 31, Lawrence, Kan., Adidas, 12.53
- Gabbi Cunningham, 23, Charlotte, N.C., Nike, 12.53
It’s been a long five years for Keni Harrison, who finished a disappointed sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials after hitting a hurdle. She regrouped to set a world record a week later (12.21), went on to win the 60m hurdles at the 2017 World Indoor Championships, then earned the silver medal in the 100m hurdles at the 2019 World Championships. Christina Clemons eeked her way onto to the Olympic team by edging the fourth-place finisher Gabbi Cunningham by 0.005 seconds in the Olympic Trials final. Cunningham was the 2020 indoor national champion at the 60m hurdles, and ran her personal best 12.53 at the trials. Brianna McNeil, the 2016 Olympic champion, took second in the trials, but is facing a five-year doping ban and lost her appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 3.
How They Compete: Harrison, ranked No. 3 in the world, clearly has unfinished business to take care of in Tokyo and is positioned to come home with hardware.
- Grant Holloway, 24, Gainesville, Fla., Adidas, 12.96
- Devon Allen, 26, Phoenix, Ariz., Nike, 13.10
- Daniel Roberts, 23, Atlanta, Ga., Nike, 13.11
Grant Holloway set the track on fire in Eugene, running three consecutive races of 13.10, 12.81 and 12.96. He won the event at the 2019 World Championships and seems to keep getting better. Devon Allen is back to running almost as fast as he did in 2016, when he won the U.S. Olympic Trials and placed fifth (13.31) at the Olympics. Daniel Roberts, the 2019 NCAA runner-up (13.00 and U.S. champion (13.23), is hoping to make up for a false start in his opening heat at the 2019 World Championships.
How They Compete: Holloway is the world leader and, if he keeps the form he displayed at the Trials, he’ll be bound for gold again. All three should be in the mix when it is time for medals.Section divider
Men’s final: Aug 3
Women’s final: Aug. 4
- Sydney McLaughlin, 21, Los Angeles, Calif., New Balance, 51.90
- Dalilah Muhammad, 31, Bayside, N.Y., Nike, 52.42
- Anna Cockrell, 23, Los Angeles, Calif., USC, 53.70
Still only 21, Sydney McLaughlin was the youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, even though she didn’t advance to the finals that year in Rio. She went on to a brief, record-setting stint at Kentucky, where she won an NCAA title in 2018 before turning pro and earning the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships. Her 51.90 clocking on the last night of the U.S. Olympic Trials set a new world record and marked the first time a woman had broken the 52-second barrier. Dalilah Muhammad, the former world record-holder, was the 2016 Olympic champion, the 2019 world champion and the runner-up at the world championships in 2013 and 2017. USC senior Anna Cockrell, the Pan Am Games silver medalist in 2019, says she was suffering from depression and ready to quit the sport two years ago but she re-immersed in training and won NCAA titles in the 100m and 400m hurdles in June before earning her first Olympic berth.
How They Compete: Expect McLaughlin and Muhammad to make the Olympic final — and the podium. Will McLaughlin challenge for the gold medal and Muhammad the silver, or the other way around?
- Raj Benjamin, 23, Los Angeles, Nike, 46.83
- Kenny Selmon, 24, Atlanta, Ga., unattached, 48.08
- David Kendziera, 26, Chapel Hill, N.C., unattached, 48.38
After winning the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, Raj Benjamin has turned up the heat and is now the third-fastest 400m hurdler in history, behind Karsten Warholm, a 25-year-old Norwegian hurdler, who clocked a 46.70 WR in Oslo on July 1, and Kevin Young, who set the previous record at the 1992 Olympics. Benjamin is also an outstanding open 400m runner and could be called upon to run on the U.S. 4x400m relay team. Kenny Selmon is back to top form after winning the 400m hurdles at the 2018 U.S. Championship and the Athletics World Cup in London later that same year. David Kendziera, an unattached competitor who was a 10-time All-American at the University of Illinois, ran the race of his life to finish third (48.38) and snag the final Olympic team spot by 0.17 seconds. Benjamin, the world leader by 0.67 seconds, will be tough to beat in Tokyo if he’s at his best.Section divider
Women: Aug. 7
Men: Aug. 8
The men’s and women’s Olympic marathons will start in Sapporo’s famous Odori Park, then send runners on multiple loops around the park and city streets.
The top three finishers at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta earned spots on the U.S. Olympic team.
- Aliphine Tuliamuk, 32, Flagstaff, Ariz., HOKA One One, 2:27:23
- Molly Seidel, 26, Boston, Mass., Puma, 2:27:31
- Sally Kipyego, 35, Eugene, Ore., Nike, 2:28:52
A lot has changed for Aliphine Tuliamuk since she won the women’s race at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, most notably that she gave birth to her daughter, Zoe Cherotich Gannon, in mid-January. The Kenyan-born runner been back in training since February and appears to be in marathon form, as evidenced by her 12 x 1-mile workout at 5:40 mile pace on June 23 with the Northern Arizona Elite squad under the guidance of coach Ben Rosario. Molly Seidel has shown she’s in form recently: She placed fifth at the New York Mini 10K on June 12 in 32:13 about two weeks after running a 32:02 10,000m on the track in Portland, Ore. Sally Kipyego, meanwhile, spent time living back in her native Kenya after the Covid-19 pandemic struck. She placed 13th at the Gate River Run/U.S. 15K championships in March and clocked a 31:30.25 in the 10,000m at the Sound Running meet on May 14 in Irvine, Calif.
How They Compete: Tuliamuk (2:26:50 PR in 2019) and Kipyego (2:25:10 in 2019) have each run several marathons since their 2015 debuts, while Seidel has only run one — her sterling Olympic Trials debut of 2:27:31. None of the American women have elite, sub-2:20 PRs, but they can be in the competitive mix in a tactical championship race, considering the past three women’s Olympic marathons have been won in the 2:23-2:26 range, while the past three World Championships were slightly slower in 2:27-2:32.
- Galen Rupp, 35, Portland, Ore., Nike, 2:09:20
- Jake Riley, 33, Boulder, Colo., On, 2:10:02
- Abdi Abdirahman, 44, Tucson, Ariz., Nike, 2:10:03
Galen Rupp isn’t the runner he once was — when took silver in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics and bronze in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics — but he’s still fit and probably the best marathoner in the U.S. (He ran his 2:06:07 PR in 2018.) Now training under coach Mike Smith, he most recently finished sixth in the 10,000m at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 27:59. Jake Riley (2:10:02 PR) is healthy again after a hamstring injury in late 2020, and ran a 14:13 5,000 in early June, but he hasn’t really raced a long-distance effort since he finishing sixth at the Michigan Pro Half Marathon (1:02:29 PR) last October. After struggling with injuries and sub-par performances for years, he moved to Boulder in 2018, enrolled in grad school (he just finished his masters in mechanical engineering) and found comeback success being trained by three-time Olympian Lee Troop, running back-to-back 2:10 marathons. Meanwhile, Abdi Abdirahman is, well, ageless Abdi. This is the fifth U.S. Olympic team for the 44-year-old native of Somalia, and, even late in his career, he always seems to turn up fit and competitive. His marathon PR dates back to 2006 (2:08:56) but he’s run in the 2:09-2:12 range five times since 2012.
How They Compete: The marathon has evolved in recent years and runners have gotten a lot faster with the emergence of super shoes, but unlike big-city marathons that have pacemakers and huge cash bonuses, the Olympics have yet to produce a blazing fast marathon. In fact, in the past six global championships (Olympics and World Championships), the winning time has been in the 2:08-2:12 range. In February, a confident Rupp said he’s going for gold, and Rio showed he can compete with the best on this stage. But that’s a tall order. Because Kipchoge. Among others…