Qualifying Standards For The World Athletics Championship Marathon Just Got Impossibly Hard

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Recent leaks on social media have unveiled the upcoming changes to the marathon entry requirements for the 2025 World Athletics Championships scheduled to be in Tokyo. 

These adjustments indicate a significant toughening of the men’s and women’s marathon qualification criteria.

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For the women’s marathon, the entry standard is set to drop by three minutes and 20 seconds to 2:23:30, compared to the previous mark of 2:26:50 set for the Paris Olympics.

This change reflects the increasing depth in the field, with more athletes achieving sub-2:20 times, thus necessitating a higher standard.

Likewise, the men’s marathon standard is anticipated to rise by one minute and 40 seconds, reaching 2:06:30 from the prior mark of 2:08:10.

In the Paris Olympic qualifying window spanning from November 1, 2022, to April 30, 2024, only 91 athletes met this new standard, with the majority hailing from Kenya and Ethiopia.

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World Athletics initially aimed for a balanced distribution of qualifiers for the Paris Olympics, with approximately half meeting the entry standard and the rest earning qualification through the World Athletics rankings and points system. 

However, none of the women are expected to qualify based on points, as 82 athletes out of the soft cap of 80 have met the Olympic standard of 2:26:50.

The new standards have made it extremely difficult, near impossible, for any past or present North American to qualify for World Championships unless it is via the points system.

There have been just 20 North American runners, male and female, to have run under their respective new standards in history.

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Just 16 North Americans ever have surpassed the revised women’s standard of 2:23:30. The most recent being Fiona O’Keefe’s triumph at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where she clocked 2:22:10.

On the men’s side, only four North American athletes have ever achieved the proposed 2025 World Championship standard. These include Canada’s Cam Levins and three Americans: Khalid Khannouchi, Galen Rupp, and Ryan Hall.

The decision to implement stricter standards aligns with World Athletics’ objective to establish a dual pathway for qualification, with 50 percent of athletes earning spots through entry standards and the remaining 50 percent through World Rankings and the points system.

Find the complete list of North American athletes who have run under the new qualifying standards:

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North American Men

  • Cameron Levins – 05 MAR 2023 – 2:05:36
  • Khalid Khannouchi – 14 APR 2002 – 2:05:38
  • Galen Rupp – 06 MAY 2018 – 2:06:07
  • Ryan Hall – 13 APR 2008 – 2:06:17

North American Women

  • Emily Sisson – 09 OCT 2022 – 2:18:29
  • Keira D’Amato – 16 JAN 2022 – 2:19:12
  • Betsy Saina – 03 MAR 2024 – 2:19:17
  • Deena Kastor – 23 APR 2006 – 2:19:36
  • Sara Hall – 20 DEC 2020 – 2:20:32
  • Jordan Hasay – 08 OCT 2017 – 2:20:57
  • Shalane Flanagan – 28 SEP 2014 – 2:21:14
  • Joan Benoit-Samuelson – 20 OCT 1985 – 2:21:21
  • Amy Cragg – 25 FEB 2018 – 2:21:42
  • Fiona O’Keefe – 03 FEB 2024 – 2:22:10
  • Madai Pérez – 22 OCT 2006 – 2:22:59
  • Molly Seidel – 08 OCT 2023 – 2:23:07
  • Natasha Wodak – 25 SEP 2022 – 2:23:12
  • Emma Bates – 18 JUL 2022 – 2:23:18
  • Sara Vaughn – 08 OCT 2023 – 2:23:24
  • Malindi Elmore – 24 SEP 2023 – 2:23:30
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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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