Winners And Losers Of The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Our editors have selected the performances we think were both superlative, and those that were costly or disappointing at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

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The 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials were as thrilling as we predicted, with countless different storylines. The race was filled with some very outstanding performances, some of which took us by surprise, and of course, also had a slew of lackluster performances.

Our editors have selected the performances we think were both superlative, and those that were costly or disappointing at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Winners And Losers Of The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials 1
Photo Credit: Derek Call

Winner: Zach Panning

With confidence, I will say this: Zach Panning ran the gutsiest race out of anyone at the Trials.

From the get-go, Panning had one goal in mind: to run Olympic A standard (2:08:10) and unlock that third spot, and he fully committed to his goal.

At the five-and-a-half mile mark, Panning came to the front and put the pressure on, and his competitors knew that he wouldn’t let up.

“When I saw Zach hit the front at five-and-a-half miles, I looked at Clayton,” said Trials winner Conner Mantz, “I just looked at him. I didn’t even nod. He looked at me and I was like, ‘We’re going for it.‘”

Panning set a furious tone through the 13-mile mark, clocking some blistering splits along the way: 4:49, 4:48, 4:47, 4:51, 4:49, 4:48, and 4:52.

Olympic A standard was within his reach as he led a select group of seven through the half.

He kept pressing the gas through mile 17, running the race’s fastest mile, a 4:44, which whittled the group further.

However, despite his efforts, he began to fade after hitting the 20-mile mark, with the goal of running 2:08:10, getting further from his reach with each passing mile.

In the end, it wasn’t meant to be, but he put it all out there, he made the race exciting, and I think the type of mindset he raced with will pay dividends for him in the long run.

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Photo Credit: Steven Anderson

Loser: Keira D’Amato

One of the most underwhelming performances of the day was that of Keira D’Amato.

D’Amato came into the Trials as the second-fastest qualifier (2:19:12), the American record holder in the half marathon, and the former American record holder in the marathon (only bettered by top qualifier Emily Sisson).

Keira D’Amato had initially been running in the lead group. However, she eventually faded and was dropped from the pack.

It was at mile 20 that D’Amato called it a day and would take a shocking DNF at the Trials.

In an Instagram post, D’Amato explained her experience from race day.

“I felt relaxed, confident, and overall good… until I didn’t. I overheated, my glutes gave out, and I watched the race run away from me. In that moment, it was heartbreaking and confusing,” she explains.

“My mile splits started heading in the wrong direction, my stomach was nauseous, body was too hot and cold at the same time… so I looked for Anthony along the road. I knew he could catch me physically and emotionally… around 20 miles, I saw him, and ran into his arms and stopped.”

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Photo Credit: Steven Anderson

Winner: Jessica Tonn McClain

I think Jessica McClain was a major oversight in the women’s race, and I also think she’s got a great story.

She took fourth on Saturday, so although she isn’t on the Olympic team, she is the alternate. Running is a pretty crazy sport, so you never know. We could still be seeing her in Paris.

I think something that really stands out about McClain is that she is not a professional runner. She came to the Trials unsponsored, meaning running is just part of her life, and her life doesn’t revolve around it.

For professional runners they have a huge advantage. I’m not talking about getting paid to run or all the top-notch gear they get for free. 

As a pro runner, you do your workouts and then spend most of the rest of your time recovering. You have access to the best physios and doctors, ample downtime to stretch or roll, and don’t have the stress of having a full-time job. 

All of these little things reduce the amount of stress your body is under, meaning you can train more because you can recover better.

McClain doesn’t have that luxury. She’s a marketing professional and Executive Director of the Johnjay & Rich #LoveUp Foundation.

On Saturday, she ran a really patient race, and that paid off in the end with a four-minute personal best and a spot as an Olympic alternate. She didn’t jump the gun and follow the leaders when the pace heated up, which eventually led to the falling out of many runners. 

She knew herself, she knew her plan, and she stuck to it. I highly doubt this will be the last time we hear of Jessica Tonn McClain.

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Loser: Galen Rupp

It seemed like a day for the underdogs yesterday, because a lot of the favorites couldn’t string it together on the day.

When Panning pushed the pace, Galen Rupp seemed to be holding strong with the leading group. 

That was until mile 16.

The two-time Olympic Trials champ couldn’t hold pace and began to fall off the back of the group. Rupp would end up finishing 16th with a time of 2:14:07, ending his bid to make his fifth Olympic team.

Rupp has been hampered by injuries over the last few years, and we don’t doubt that that had some impact on his performance at the Trials.

Despite the big expectations from himself and from others, Rupp expressed his disappointment but stated, “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

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Photo Credit: Steven Anderson

Winner: Dakotah Lindwurm

For young runners, especially those who may not be standouts, I think Dakotah Lindwurm is your new hero.

In high school, Lindwurm (then Bullen) had the following personal bests:

  • 800m – 2:51
  • 1600m – 5:40
  • 3200m – 12:32
  • 5K XC – 22:08

Lindwurm attended Northern State University in South Dakota, where she was a walk-on to their D2 cross-country and track teams. By the end of her time at Northern State, she was a scholarship athlete and posted the following times:

  • 800m – 2:36
  • Mile – 5:20
  • 5000m – 16:43
  • 6K XC – 21:14

Lindwurm was never the runner anyone talked about when they talked about great potential, and she probably dealt with some people who didn’t believe she could be a standout runner.

That same average high school runner just became an Olympian, placing third at the Trials with a time of 2:25:31.

Just because you’re not a standout runner in high school or a full-ride D1 stud doesn’t mean you don’t have great potential.

For athletes who think about quitting the sport just because they aren’t on their varsity team in high school or are only getting recruited by D2 or D3 college programs, look at Lindwurm and continue to chase the dream.

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Loser: Scott Fauble

The man who predicted that it “will take sub-2:08:10 to make it in 2024” faced some unexpected challenges during one of the biggest races of his life.

With a fair chance at making that Olympic squad, it was stomach issues that shattered his Olympic dreams.

Among the favorites at the Trials, Fauble spoke highly of how far American distance running has come,

“I think people have prepared well enough, and if you look at the Trials in 2020, it took a pretty fast time on that course. That was a hard course, and it still took 2:09, 2:10. I think US distance running has improved since then, and I think that there will be a big enough mass of guys up front that it’s going to be a fast race.”

The Olympic Trials becomes Fauble’s second DNF in his last two races. At the 2023 BMW Berlin Marathon, Fauble also took a DNF.

As we mentioned before, it seems like the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials was a day for the underdogs, with some shocking upsets from the dark horses and a slew of lackluster performances from some of the race favorites.

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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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