A Year to Go: A Quick Look at the Top Contenders in the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon
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We’re about a year away from the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Orlando, Florida, but it’s still anybody’s guess who will make the U.S. team for the Paris Olympics. With 12 months to go, anything can happen. While typically many of the top contenders wind up being in the mix on race day, injury, illness and poor training sometimes dictate otherwise. Also, there’s bound to be a few new contenders that will become apparent by this spring or next fall.
Here’s a quick rundown of the 12 of the top women’s contenders (listed in order of qualifying times) a year out from the qualifying races.
Related: The Countdown is On: One Year to Go Until the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon
Top Women Contenders for the U.S Olympic Marathon Trials
1. Emily Sisson, 31, Flagstaff, Arizona, 2:18:29 (New Balance) — Sisson’s been on fire for the past year and seems to be the favorite to make the team. She broke the American record in the half marathon in Indianapolis last May (1:07:11), lowered the U.S. mark in the marathon (2:18:29) in Chicago last October and started 2023 by lowering her national record in the half (1:06:52) in Houston. She only has two marathon finishes under her belt (her 2:23:08 debut in London in 2019 being the other) but that won’t be a detriment for Sisson, who has a lot of racing experience at shorter distances.
2. Keira D’Amato, 38, Richmond, Virginia, 2:19:12 (Nike) — If she continues running the way she has, she’ll be hard to beat. After spending several years away from competitive running to focus on building a family (she’s a mom to two kids) and a real estate career, D’Amato made a huge comeback that included a 15th-place showing at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta (2:34:34), breaking the longstanding American record last January (2:19:12) in Houston, placing 8th at the World Athletics Championships last July in Eugene (2:23:34) then turning in strong performances in Berlin (6th, 2:21:48) and New York (15th, 2:31:31).
3. Sara Hall, 39, Flagstaff Arizona/Crested Butte, Colorado, 2:22:10 (ASICS) — Since moving to longer distances later in her career, Hall has race fast and frequently. But the key to her Olympic marathon quest is staying healthy. Last year the mother of four turned in solid marathon efforts in Tokyo (8th, 2:22:56) and in Eugene for the World Athletics Championships (5th, 2:22:10) as well as setting an American record in the half marathon (1:07:15). But she also withdrew from Boston and New York because of injuries in 2022, if Hall, who turns 40 in April, shows up healthy in Orlando, bank on her being in the mix.
4. Emma Bates, 30, Boulder, Colorado, 2:23:18 (ASICS) — Perhaps the most consistent American marathoner of the past four years, Bates won the U.S. championships in 2018 (2:28:19), placed 7th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2020 (2:29:35), took 4th at The Marathon Project in 2020 (2:25:40), placed 2nd in Chicago in 2021 (2:24:20), 7th at the World Athletics Championships (2:23:18) in 2022 and 8th at the New York City Marathon (2:26:53) last fall.
5. Lindsay Flanagan, 32, Boulder, Colorado, 2:24:43 (ASICS) — Having been on the cusp of a big breakthrough for the past few years, Flanagan finally got it in when she won Australia’s Gold Coast Marathon (2:24:35) last summer. She also ran strong efforts in Paris (10th, 2:26:54) and New York (11th, 2:29:28)
6. Dakotah Lindwurm, 27, St. Francis, Minnesota, 2:25:01 (Puma) — In what was a breakthrough year for Lindrum, she repeated her Grandma’s Marathon victory in June (2:25:01) and also improved her result at the Boston Marathon (14th, 2:29:55). Still on the way up, youth seems to be on Lindwurm’s side.
7. Susanna Sullivan, 32, Reston, Virginia, 2:25:14 (unattached) — Sullivan has continued improving as a marathon while also working full-time as an elementary school teacher. Last year she placed 3rd at Grandma’s Marathon (2:26:56) and took 6th in Chicago (2:25:14), her first World Marathon Majors race.
8. Sarah Sellers, 31, Ogden, Utah, 2:25:43 (unattached) — After her stunning runner-up showing at the rain-soaked 2018 Boston Marathon, Sellers had several mid-range results from 2018-2020, but did post a solid 11th-place effort at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta (2:31:48). Amid juggling her schedule as a mom and working full-time as a nurse anesthetist, she shattered her PR at last June’s Grandma’s Marathon, placing second in 2:25:43.
9. Nell Rojas, 35, Boulder, Colorado, 2:25:57 (Nike) — After spending the first part of her career as a triathlete and obstacle course racer, Rojas has founder her calling in the marathon. She was the top American finisher in the Boston Marathon in 2021 (6th, 2:27:12) and 2022 (10th, 2:25:57) and also ran a strong New York City Marathon last fall (10th, 2:28:32).
10. Paige Stoner, 27, Flagstaff, Arizona, 2:26:02 (Hoka) — Last summer, Stoner her previous training group and longtime coach, to train in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she increased her volume training with Sarah Pagano and Emily Durgin. She won the U.S. championship at the California International Marathon in December with a course record of 2:26:02, her debut at the distance. Stoner seems to have great upside as a marathoner, especially now that she’s training with the Hoka NAZ Elite team in Flagstaff.
11. Aliphine Tuliamuk, 33, Flagstaff, Arizona, 2:26:18 (Hoka) — After winning the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, Tuliamuk had a baby in 2021 and then DNF’ed at the Tokyo Olympics. But after shaking the industry bug in 2022, she won the U.S. 25K championships (1:23:21) and finished the year strong with a great race in New York City (7th, 2:26:18).
12. Sara Vaughn, 36, Boulder, Colorado, 2:26:23 (Puma) — After racing at an elite level as a middle-distance her entire career, Vaughn has become a late-bloomer in the marathon. The mother of four won the 2021 California International Marathon (2:26:53) and came back last year with a good effort in Boston (21st, 2:36:27) and a strong showing in Chicago (7th, 2:26:23)
Others To Consider
There are dozens of other talented American runners who could be contenders for the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon team based on the growing list of qualifiers. Here are three more to keep an eye on.
Betsy Saina, 34, Iten, Kenya
After competing for her native Kenya for the first part of her career (including in the 10,000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics), Saina gained U.S. citizenship in 2021. She has a marathon personal best of 2:22:43 from the 2019 Toronto Marathon, but she has only run two half marathons in the past year while coming back from having a baby, taking fourth in Tokyo (1:11:13) last fall and winning the Seville Half Marathon (1:08:25) in Spain in January.
Molly Seidel, 28, Flagstaff, Arizona
The breakout star of 2020 and 2021, Molly Seidel placed second at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in her debut at the distance (2:27:31) and then placing in 6th in London (2:25:13) later that fall, taking the bronze at the Tokyo Olympics the following summer (2:27:46) and placing fourth (2:24:42) at the 2021 New York City Marathon later that year. But 2022 was a wash due to a variety of injuries. If she’s healthy, Seidel has the competitive zeal to contend for another Olympic team.
Molly Huddle, 38, Providence, Rhode Island
A two-time Olympian on the track, Huddle is the former American record-holder in the half marathon. She clocked a 1:10:01 at the Houston Half Marathon in January in her first race back since giving birth to a baby girl last April. Her marathon PR (2:26:33) is from the 2019 London Marathon.