World Athletics has published the ‘Road to Paris 2024’ list, which identifies who has run under the Olympic qualifying standard and if they qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics while considering the three per-country rule.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into who’s tentatively eligible for the men’s and women’s marathon, who’s currently missing out, and what could happen next.
Team USA Men Still Missing Third Automatic Qualifying Spot
The world of marathon running has been taken by storm this year, with no shortage of fast times and the world record coming down just a few weeks ago when Kelvin Kiptum ran 2:00:35 at the Chicago Marathon.
Undoubtedly, the Kenyans will be coming to the Olympics as the favorites, as they have incredible depth and plenty of quality runners to select from. Kenya currently has 53 runners who have run under the Olympic standard of 2:08:10.
However, the three per-country rule would only allow the country to select and send three athletes.
We can be almost certain that world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and former world record holder Eliud Kipchoge will be at the start line of the Olympic Marathon in Paris. Kipchoge holds the second-fastest marathon time of all time (2:01:09, Berlin Marathon 2022) and the second-fastest marathon time of 2023 (2:02:42, Berlin Marathon).
Team USA has currently earned only two of three possible guaranteed spots by running under the Olympic qualification standard.
At the Chicago Marathon, Conner Mantz and Clayton Young became the first American men to run under the elusive 2:08:10, running 2:07:47 and 2:08:00, respectively.
Of the 52 spots, currently allotted to runners having gone under the Olympic standard, Mantz sits 45th and Young 49th.
Running the Olympic standard is not the only way to earn your country a spot at the Olympics. Alternative but less guaranteed ways to qualify for the marathon include finishing in certain positions at select events and athletes in the World Rankings quota.
Currently, Scott Fauble holds a spot that is within the World Rankings quota. Should Fauble maintain his position in the World Ranking past January 30, 2024, Team USA will have their third guaranteed spot.
Unless an American is able to run under 2:08:10 in an upcoming event, Team USA will be at risk of only sending two athletes. The next big chance for the Americans comes at the New York City Marathon, which takes place on November 5, 2023.
Will Track Standout Sifan Hassan Be At The Start Of The Olympic Marathon?
Women’s marathon running has been no less thrilling than the men’s this year, with the world record also being shattered just one month ago. Ethiopian Tigst Assefa obliterated the previous women’s world record of 2:14:04 (Brigid Kosgei, Chicago 2019) when she ran 2:11:53 at this year’s Berlin Marathon.
Sifan Hassan also bettered Kosgei’s time just a few weeks after Assefa set a new world record. Hassan ran the second-fastest marathon ever at this year’s Chicago Marathon in 2:13:44.
In only her second marathon ever, she is certainly a threat in the marathon field. However, Hassan is also an accomplished track runner across a number of distances, including the 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m.
With so much versatility, it is unclear whether she will only target one event at the Olympics or try to tackle a number of them.
The Ethiopian and Kenyan women have shown their dominance, with both countries having deep fields to select from. Ethiopia currently has 74 runners who have gone under the women’s Olympic qualifying standard of 2:26:50. Kenya has had 39 women run under the elusive time.
The women of Team USA have earned their guaranteed three spots in the marathon at the 2024 Olympic Games, with 13 runners hitting the Olympic standard.
The three fastest American marathoners for the women include Betsy Saina (2:21:40), Emily Sisson (2:22:09), and Molly Seidel (2:23:07). However, none of them are guaranteed until the conclusion of the U.S. Olympic Trials on February 3, 2024.
Team USA’s neighboring Canadians are still looking to get two more women under the Olympic standard. The only Canadian woman to have gone below 2:26:50 is Malindi Elmore, with a 2:23:30 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon.
Should the World Rankings remain the same, the Canadians will qualify two additional women, as Natasha Wodak and Kinsey Middleton are within the current rankings quota.
With the Olympics creeping closer by the day, the chances for runners to hit Olympic standards are becoming fewer.
In the remaining marathons, some will be looking to guarantee their country a spot at the Olympics. For others from countries who already have three guaranteed spots, they will be looking to qualify for their respective Olympic Trials.
With records falling, stars rising, and so much in the air, there are still plenty of question marks surrounding who will be at the start line of the 2024 Olympic marathon.
The only thing that is certain is that it will be a race you won’t want to miss.