With the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials just over a week away, you should get to know a bit more about the field and a couple pairs of athletes that could produce exciting battles. If these races within the bigger race are tight, the outcomes could decide who goes to Tokyo and who will be watching the Olympics from home. The top three men and women will book their tickets for the Games, and these two matchups will be exciting to watch in Atlanta on February 29.
Emily Sisson vs. Molly Huddle
At a glance–Emily Sisson
Born: October 12, 1991 (28 years old)
2x NCAA champion (2015 indoor and outdoor 5,000m)
Ninth place, 2017 World Championships 10,000m
Sixth place, 2019 London Marathon
2019 London Marathon (2:23:08)
Marathon PB: 2:23:08
At a glance–Molly Huddle
Born: August 31, 1984
11th place, 2012 London Olympics 5,000m
Fourth place, 2015 World Championships 10,000m
Sixth place, 2016 Rio Olympics 10,000m
Fourth place, 2018 New York City Marathon
2016 New York City Marathon (2:28:13)
Marathon PB: 2:26:33
This will be a very most exciting matchup, because Huddle and Sisson have gone head to head many times. In 2019, they met in the 5,000m at the Hoka One One Long Island Mile (Huddle came first, two seconds ahead of Sisson), in the 10,000m on three occasions (Huddle beat Sisson twice, Sisson won once) and at the London Marathon (Sisson came in sixth, over three minutes ahead of Huddle’s 12th). Sisson and Huddle are also training partners, so they know each other very well and likely have one-on-one battles every day. The two women should put on a good show for viewers as they fight for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Bernard Lagat vs. Jim Walmsley
At a glance–Bernard Lagat
Born: December 12, 1974 (45 years old)
Bronze medal, 2000 Sydney Olympics 1,500m
Silver medal, 2001 World Championships 1,500m
Silver medal, 2004 Athens Olympics 1,500m
Gold medal, 2007 World Championships 1,500m
Gold medal, 2007 World Championships 5,000m
Bronze medal, 2009 World Championships 1,500m
Silver medal, 2009 World Championships 5,000m
Silver medal, 2011 World Championships 5,000m
2018 New York City Marathon (2:17:20)
Marathon PB: 2:12:10
At a glance–Jim Walmsley
Born: January 17, 1990 (30 years old)
3x JFK 50 Mile winner (2014, 2015 & 2016)
2x Western States 100 winner (2018 & 2019)
2x Lake Sonoma 50 winner (2016 & 2018)
Fifth place, 2017 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc
2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (Debut marathon)
Marathon PB: TBD
It will be a very interesting to see who crosses the line first in Atlanta between Walmsley and Lagat. With Lagat’s age and Walmsley’s lack of experience at such a short (well, short for him) distance, both of these men are big underdogs to qualify for the U.S. team. Lagat certainly has the experience, having competed in five Olympics and winning multiple Olympic and world championship medals. Lagat has also raced a marathon before, which will be a completely new experience for Walmsley. Still, Walmsley is such an unknown for this race, so it will be exciting to see what he can run.
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Unfortunately, due to illness, I am going to have to withdraw from the US Olympic Marathon Trials. The Trials are the reason I have shown up every day for the last four years, so this has been an extremely difficult decision. Thank you to Nike, my support team, my teammates, my marathon training buddy and everyone who helped me get this close and continue to help me get back to my best. I wish all my friends, teammates and competitors good luck in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, Amy Cragg has announced that she will no longer be racing in Atlanta (we thought she and Jordan Hasay could’ve had a great head to head battle). Cragg won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and she was confident heading into this year’s event.
Despite this loss, the race will still be a great one to watch, and there will certainly be lots of drama as hundreds of athletes race for the top three spots and an Olympic berth.