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Is This Four-Hour Marathoner Running In The Olympic Games?

Not exactly, but certain news outlets seem to think she is!

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Florida runner Ashley Uhl-Leavitt has lit a fire for the savage running forums after her GoFundMe campaign aimed at supporting her journey to the “Olympic marathon” in Paris made headlines at multiple news outlets. 

Uhl-Leavitt’s friend who set up the GoFundMe page, Audrey Maheu, seems to have stretched the truth about her friend’s participation in the actual Olympic Games. 

Uhl-Leavitt, a 36-year-old personal trainer from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was not among the American women selected for the Olympic marathon in Paris, as the roster was determined during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (which she also didn’t qualify for) earlier this year.

Is This Four-Hour Marathoner Running In The Olympic Games? 1

Maheu’s GoFundMe, which launched in March, paints a different picture, suggesting that Uhl-Leavitt is bound for the Olympics and rallying support for her purported race. 

Despite the misleading campaign, Maheu has already managed to raise $1,310 of her $5,000 goal. 

Maheu says that “donations received will go towards expenses such as airfare, lodging, registration fees, potential bond money to post bail for our Paris shenanigans, and other various expenses involved in Ashley chasing down this dream.”

Media outlets like Al Jazeera and Essentially Sports further fueled the misconception, portraying Uhl-Leavitt as an elite athlete with a chance at Olympic glory.

Al Jazeera said that Uhl-Leavitt had “a chance to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games” and painted the picture of an elite athlete: “Training for this high level of athletics is a full-time job… Uhl-Leavitt is one of the many athletes over the years who turned to alternative means to finance their Olympic journey.”

The article by Essentially Sports described Uhl-Leavit as a “New York City marathon legend…who recently qualified for the Olympics.” Uhl-Leavitt ran 4:54:20 at the 2022 New York City Marathon.

The reality is that Uhl-Leavitt, with a personal best of four hours and change in the marathon, is participating in the mass-participation race at the Olympic marathon, known as the “Marathon Pour Tous”—a race open to amateur runners worldwide who meet certain criteria (though none of them are a time standard criteria). 

“A year ago I started completing running challenges trying to earn a spot into the lottery for the 2024 Olympic marathon pour tous in Paris this summer. I got my acceptance email today and I am sooo excited!!!! Summer marathon build…here I come!” she said on Instagram.

Winning her bib through a lottery system, Uhl-Leavitt is preparing for the event, evidenced by her recent training endeavors in multiple countries. Most recently, she completed a 16-mile run through three countries: France, Monaco, and Italy.

“Marathon training is still on track!! 16 miles through 3 countries (France, Monaco and Italy). I was lucky enough to find a 6 mile trail up, over and through the cliffs, along the seaside (over 2200 feet of climbing…) It was stunning and nature made me feel so small and humbled. It’s why I love to run. To get out of your head and just simply be.” she said on Instagram.

While Maheu aims to fund Uhl-Leavitt’s expenses for the race, including airfare and lodging, it’s clear that this venture is completely different from the elite Olympic competition.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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