We’ll be on-site at the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials to bring you live updates beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, February 3. Find our live updates here on race morning.
The US Olympic Marathon Trials are closing in. With the gun going off on Saturday, February 3, 2024, at 10 am local time, let’s talk about who can secure a spot on Team USA at this point in time and how the whole qualification process works.
Everything You Need To Know About Olympic Marathon Qualification From The US Olympic Trials
- Changes to Olympic Qualification
- Which Americans Can Actually Qualify To The Olympic Games?
- American Women Who Have Run A Or B Standard
- American Men Who Have Run A Or B Standard
- Women’s Race: A Straightforward Path
- Men’s Race: Navigating Complexity
- What About Runners Who Qualified By Running A Half Marathon?
- What’s The Deal With Galen Rupp?
Changes to Olympic Qualification
In previous Olympic cycles, the US Olympic Marathon Trials were pretty easy to follow.
The top three men and women on the day of the Olympic Trials secured their spot on Team USA for that summer’s Olympic Games Marathon.
However, the 2024 Olympic Trials are far more nuanced.
These complexities are rooted in the constraints imposed by the International Olympic Committee to limit athlete participation to just 80, with a maximum of three athletes per country.
The current limit evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the 2020 Games and the subsequent surge in Olympic qualifiers during the extended period, making the fields at the Games much larger than anticipated.
The first thing to keep in mind is that although each country can send three men and three women to the Olympics for the marathon, no country is guaranteed three spots.
For the 2024 Olympics, World Athletics introduced a challenging qualification process, setting faster time standards and allowing countries to “unlock” the above-mentioned spots through various criteria between November 6, 2022, and April 30, 2024.
This includes running an automatic qualifying time, having a high enough ranking in the World Athletics Road to Paris List, or placing in the top five at a platinum-level race (think World Marathon Majors here).
The automatic qualifying times are 2:26:50 for women and 2:08:10 for men.
What this means is that any athlete from the US (or any other country, respectively) who runs a marathon under the automatic qualifying time “unlocks” one of three guaranteed spots for their country.
For Americans, this does not automatically mean that whoever ran the automatic qualifying time gets to go to the Olympics. They still have to compete at the Olympic Trials.
Which Americans Can Actually Qualify To The Olympic Games?
To understand which Americans can actually qualify for the Olympic Games, we need to talk about the “quota reallocation system.”
As we mentioned above, even though an American runs the automatic qualifying time, also known as the A standard, they are not guaranteed to go to the Olympics. They simply guaranteed their country one of three available spots on the start line at the Olympics.
The replacement must have run a B standard of 2:11:30 for men or 2:29:30 for women.
So, even if an athlete were to place second at the Olympic Trials, but their fastest marathon time (including their time at the Trials) was slower than the B standard, they could not qualify to the Olympic Games.
So, which Americans at the Olympic Trials can even qualify to the Games?
American Women Who Have Run A Or B Standard
|Dakotah Marie Lindwurm
|Tristin Van Ord
|Margareta (Maggie) Montoya
|Jess (Tonn) MacClain
American Men Who Have Run A Or B Standard
|Matthew Alexander McDonald
|Nicholas Rodolfo Montanez
|Joel William Reichow
Women’s Race: A Straightforward Path
On the women’s side, you’ll notice that 13 Americans have run under the A standard, meaning they have unlocked all three guaranteed spots. Another 15 women have already run under the B standard.
The women’s race is expected to be relatively straightforward, with the top three finishers in Orlando likely earning spots on the Olympic team.
However, there’s one catch– if a top-three finisher lacks a qualifying time of 2:29:30 or faster, they will need to secure the time during the Trials race itself to be eligible.
Men’s Race: Navigating Complexity
The men’s race is where we begin to experience some complexity.
Unlike the women, only two men have run under the A standard, meaning the US only has two guaranteed spots on the Olympic Marathon startline.
Currently, 17 men have run under the 2:11:30 B standard, making them eligible for the Olympic Marathon but not having unlocked any quota spots.
So in the men’s race, we’re dealing with the complexity of having multiple scenarios:
Scenario 1: First Two Finishers with Qualifying Times
The first two finishers in Orlando meeting the 2:11:30 standard will secure Olympic team spots.
Scenario 2: Non-Qualifying First Two Finishers
In the event that the top two finishers have not run the B standard, the next two finishers who have met the B standard will be selected.
Scenario 3: Unlocking a Third Spot at Trials
There is the possibility of one or more men running under the Olympic A standard at the Trials themselves.
Should this happen (although unlikely), many of these complexities would disappear and we would be dealing with a similar situation as the women’s race, where the top three runners punch their ticket to Paris, provided they have run at least the B standard.
Scenario 4: Unlocking a Third Spot by May
Additionally, there’s a chance that a third spot could be unlocked by a high Trials finisher improving their world ranking before May.
Scenario 5: Post-Trials Qualification
If a U.S. man not among the initial top three finishers achieves a 2:08:10 or faster time or otherwise unlocks a third spot after the Trials, the third Olympic spot would go to the highest-placing Orlando finisher who had run 2:11:30 or better.
Despite the intricate selection process, it remains uncertain if the third spot for U.S. men will be claimed in Orlando or through subsequent events.
What About Runners Who Qualified By Running A Half Marathon?
Running a marathon is not the only way to qualify to the US Olympic Marathon Trials.
Obviously, we have the runners who will qualify by running a marathon under the Trials standard of 2:18:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women.
However, we also have runners who have never run a marathon making their debut at the Olympic Trials.
Any American who runs under 1:03:00 for men and 1:12:00 for women in a half marathon qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Now, those making their debut marathon at the Trials are playing a risky game. If they want to make Team USA for the marathon, they still have to run at least the Olympic B standard and place in the top three in their very first marathon.
What’s The Deal With Galen Rupp?
There has been lots of talk about whether Galen Rupp can qualify to yet another Olympic Games.
Rupp comes into the Olympic Trials with a qualification time of 2:08:48.
So he has not run Olympic A standard. However, he has run under the Olympic B standard.
The easiest way for Rupp to secure his spot to the Olympics would be to place in the top two in Orlando.
If Rupp is unable to place in the top two, things become a bit more complex. He would then rely on either himself or another American to run Olympic A standard before the qualification window closes in the spring.
Should an American man run Olympic A standard following Trials, it would be the third place finisher from Orlando who would take that third spot on Team USA, so Rupp still needs to place in the top three regardless.
Put simply, if Rupp places in the top two, he will go to the Olympics. If he places in the top three, he’ll be hoping Team USA gets a third spot via a qualification time or World Rankings, which will be decided by May. If he is outside the top three, he could be named as an alternate, at best.
With the time to the Olympic Trials ticking away, we hope this guide provides some clarity as to who and how qualification to the Olympic Games from the US Olympic Marathon Trials works.
Stay tuned to the Marathon Handbook website for more resources to help you get the most out of the US Olympic Trials. Interested in following along on race day? We’ll be covering the event live from Orlando and providing live updates on our site!