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New Mom and Elite Runner Molly Huddle is Ready to Take on the NYC Half

Molly Huddle, on her postpartum comeback, will headline the NYC Half with Senbere Teferi, Hellen Obiri, Eilish McColgan and Des Linden

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Molly Huddle admits making time for running is considerably more challenging since giving birth to a baby girl last April, but she’s excited to be back racing at a high level as a healthy and fit mother.

The 38-year-old two-time U.S. Olympian ran so well at the Houston Half Marathon on January 15, she’s optimistic about racing a late spring marathon. Next up, Huddle will be racing in the deep women’s elite field at the United Airlines NYC Half on March 19 for the first time since taking her third consecutive victory in the event in 2017.

Huddle began to gradually increase her training late last summer under the guidance of longtime coach Ray Treacy and ran a couple of moderately fast 10Ks and a half marathon last fall. But then she had a big breakthrough when she ran 1:10:01 in Houston. Even though that was well off the 1:07:25 PR she recorded while setting an American record in 2018, it was still an impressive effort.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d get back to even doing that, so that was good,” Huddle said. “Sometimes it’s good to just start 100 percent over and slowly build back. I think that was the only way I was gonna do it. I haven’t really been tested at a level that would be like trying to PR or qualify for a U.S. team, so we’ll see how it goes. But I think there’s a lot out there. I mean, just because you’re not making the Olympic team, you can still do a lot in the sport.”

Huddle said she generally felt good while running about 40 miles a week through eight months of her pregnancy, but then backed off and did whatever she could manage in the final month before Josephine was born on April 26. After giving birth, Huddle took extra time to recover until she felt like she could run consistently, but she also consulted with a pelvic floor specialist to make sure she wouldn’t risk injury by incorporating too much training intensity too soon.

RELATED: Why Runners Need Pelvic Floor Therapy

While she’s earnestly back to training at a high level, she admits she’s still managing the physical challenges of breastfeeding, as well as the new time constraints as she and her partner, Kurt Benninger, the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Brown University, juggle their schedules to maintain their professional lives while prioritizing their efforts to care for their daughter.

Huddle is grateful for the continued support from her longtime sponsor Saucony, as well as the increased honest public and social media conversations among women athletes becoming mothers. She says she’s taken cues, inspiration and advice from fellow elite-runner moms Aliphine Tuliamuk, Faith Kipygeon and Sara Vaughn, among others.

“It’s just a long timeline, but it’s been great to see other women do it,” Huddle says. “It takes some time and some, you know, intentional exercises and some pacing yourself, but then once you get the green light after, you know, a certain amount of months, I feel like you can do everything you were doing before.”

RELATED: Aliphine Tuliamuk Feels Faster As A Mother

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Huddle won the NYC Half in 2015, 2016, and 2017,with her winning time of 1:07:41 from 2016 setting an event record that stood until last year. She’ll line up against Ethiopia’s two-time Olympian Senbere Teferi, who last year broke Huddle’s event record while winning in 1:07:35. She is also a two-time world championships silver medalist and the 5K world-record holder (14:29) for a women-only race.

Other Notable Runners for the NYC Half

Two-time Olympic medalist and seven-time world championships medalist Hellen Obiri of Kenya, three-time Olympian and four-time European Championships medalist Eilish McColgan of Scotland, and two-time U.S. Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden will also toe the line in New York. Other top Americans include Dakotah Lindwurm, Erika Kemp, Maggie Montoya, Annie Frisbie and Jeralyn Poe.

Huddle hasn’t announced which marathon she’ll run in late April or early May. Her last effort at 26.2 miles was four years ago this spring, when, despite having had an off day in London, she finished 12th place in a new PR of 2:26:33. She was considered one of the favorites to finish in the top three at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta three years ago this week, but dropped out near mile 20, partially because she was still struggling with an Achilles injury.

“Look, running 1:10 is no joke of a time,” said Sara Slattery, who co-authored “How She Did It: Stories, Advice, and Secrets to Success from Fifty Legendary Distance Runners” with Huddle last year. “She’s still in full mom mode, and still breastfeeding, so, give her some more time, and it will be fun to see what she can do. The thinking used to be that your peak was like your late 20s, early 30s, and now we’re seeing runners like Sarah Hall and Keira D’Amato and Edna Kiplagat and all these women running amazing times into their late 30s and 40s.”

The men’s open division of the NYC Half will be headlined by Uganda stalwarts Joshua Cheptegei (Olympic 5,000 champion) and Jacob Kiplimo (the half-marathon world-record holder), as well as two-time Olympic medalist and 2017 Chicago Marathon champion Galen Rupp of the U.S. At the World Cross Country Championships on February 18 in Bathurst, Australia, Kiplimo won the gold while Cheptegei took the bronze. Last year’s NYC Half runner-up Edward Cheserek of Kenya, and past event champions Ben True of the U.S. and Belay Tilahun of Ethiopia are also in the men’s elite field.

A trio of past TCS New York City Marathon and United Airlines NYC Half champions – Susannah Scaroni, Manuela Schär, and Daniel Romanchuk – will feature in the strongest wheelchair field in event history, which will also welcome Paralympic medalists Catherine Debrunner and Jetze Plat for the first time.

How to Watch the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

The event will be covered by a livestream, distributed internationally from NYRR’s digital channels,, and the ESPN app, beginning at 7 a.m. ET on March 19.