The Olympic Marathon Trials are the most competitive 26.2-mile races in the country. Here’s what you need to know to watch the 2020 showdown.
The fastest marathon runners in the country are set to compete on February 29 in Atlanta at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. The top three men and women will go on to the 2020 Tokyo Games, where the women’s Olympic marathon is scheduled for August 8 and the men’s event on August 9, in Sapporo, Japan.
This year’s Olympic Marathon Trials have been heralded as the most competitive in history. The women’s field nearly doubled in size from the 2016 Trials–to 512 athletes who qualified by running an “A” standard of 2:37 or faster or a “B” standard of 2:45 (full)/1:13 (half marathon). On the men’s side, 260 qualified with the “A” standard of 2:15 or “B” standard 2:19 (full)/1:04 (half), up from 211 men in 2016.
How to Watch the Olympic Marathon Trials (all times Eastern)
What: The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials
When: The men’s race begins at 12:08 p.m. and the women’s race starts at 12:20 p.m.
How to watch: The races will be broadcast live from noon–3 p.m. on NBC and NBC Sports Gold ($99 subscription). Receive mile-by-mile updates on your favorite athletes online with this athlete tracker or by downloading the America’s Marathon Weekend app from Atlanta Track Club (free, iPhone/iPad and Android).
Also: Make sure to keep tabs on live coverage beginning Wednesday, February 26, from our on-the-ground Women’s Running and PodiumRunner reporters in Atlanta. We’ll also post updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Why to Watch the Trials
In the women’s race, the field is deep with potentially eight runners who could vie for those coveted three spots at the top. Jordan Hasay, 28, has the fastest qualifying time of 2:20:57, which she set at the 2017 Chicago Marathon, making her the second-fastest woman at 26.2 miles in American history (behind Deena Kastor, who holds the national record of 2:19:36).
Hasay dropped out of her last race, the 2019 Chicago Marathon, around three miles in, with a hamstring injury. In Atlanta, she’ll face Sara Hall, 36, who has the second-fastest qualifying time of those competing—2:22:16, set at the 2019 Berlin Marathon; as well as Emily Sisson, 28, who debuted at the distance at the 2019 London Marathon in 2:23:08.
But those top three times were earned on notoriously flat, fast courses. The Olympic Marathon Trials are going to be raced on a hilly, difficult eight-mile loop in downtown Atlanta, which they’ll run three times, and then add another 2.2 mile loop to the finish. Given the undulating terrain, strength will come into play, making it impossible to overlook competitors like Kellyn Taylor, Sally Kipyego, Desiree Linden (the only returning member of the 2016 Olympic squad), Molly Huddle, Emma Bates, Aliphine Tuliamuk, and Stephanie Bruce.
On the men’s side, Galen Rupp, 33, is returning to defend his Olympic Marathon Trials title, entering with the fastest qualifier (2:06:07 at the 2018 Prague Marathon) by almost two minutes. The 2016 Trials served as his debut at 26.2 miles and he went on to win bronze at the Rio Games.
Like Hasay, Rupp also dropped out of the 2019 Chicago Marathon, his first race back after having surgery to treat Haglund’s deformity, a bone protrusion on his left heel that partially tore his Achilles. However, since then Rupp raced a half marathon on February 8, in Arizona, winning in 1:01:19, indicating he is healthy again. His closest competitor on paper is Leonard Korir, 33, who finished the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:07:56.
After the two top seeds, a few men have a legitimate shot at making the team, including 2016 Olympian Jared Ward (2:09:25) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09). Another 14 athletes qualified with times between 2:10–2:11.