Swiss running shoe company On has signed first-time Olympic marathon qualifier Jake Riley. Riley was nowhere to be seen for almost the entire U.S. Olympic marathon trials, but with four miles to go, made an appearance among the leaders. The unsponsored (at the time) runner would go on to qualify for his first Olympic team, running a new personal best of 2:10:02 and finishing in second place behind Galen Rupp.
The eight-time NCAA All-American at Stanford battled a three-year injury absence and doubts about returning to the sport before finishing as the top American in the 2019 Chicago Marathon (2:10:36), which qualified him for the trials. “I’m so happy to be joining the On team,” says Riley, “I’m excited to represent a company that’s committed to running and runners, and I’m looking forward to finding out just how far we can go together.”
Next up for Riley is a one-on-one virtual 5K race against 2:09 marathoner Jared Ward. Ward came in sixth in the 2016 Olympic marathon and was a favourite for making the 202(1) team, but at this year’s U.S. Trials, he finished well back of a qualifying spot in 27th place. Ward has a 5, 000m PB of 13:34.74 compared to Riley’s 13:32.82, although both men ran those time over five years ago. Riley beat Ward by almost six full minutes at the marathon trials in Atlanta in February, but a 5K is very different from a marathon. Riley teases on his Instagram, “We’ve [Jared and himself] been racing for a long time, and I’ve been absolutely crushing him for most of it (so long as you ignore 2014-2019, which I do).”
Their race will be live on Instagram on July 4 at 8 a.m. MDT.