Just days after competing in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, Sara Hall says she’s going back to her first love: 26.2 miles. On Tuesday, officials announced that Hall will race the 2021 Chicago Marathon on October 10, and she’s going for the American record.
The record, 2:19:36, is currently held by Deena Kastor, which she set at the 2006 London Marathon. In December, Hall, 38, made a first attempt to better the mark at the Marathon Project, an elite-only race near Phoenix that offered pacemakers and 4.26-mile looped course. She finished in 2:20:32, becoming the second-fastest U.S. woman at the distance. Just 11 weeks prior to that performance, Hall finished second at the elite-only London Marathon, a career breakthrough against an extremely competitive international field.
Hall turned her attention toward making the 2021 Olympic team in the 10,000 meters after she was unable to finish the Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020. The course in Atlanta was not her forte, with relentless hills on a windy day. On Saturday she placed sixth in the 10,000 meters—the top three women (Emily Sisson, Karissa Schweizer, and Alicia Monson) advanced to the Tokyo Games.
“What I will remember the most from my 7th Olympic Trials is the journey to the line. I started the year having amazing training— then got COVID, which derailed my training for months,” Hall wrote on Instagram, after the race. “As I clawed my way back there were many tears and many times I almost threw in the towel on the season since I couldn’t run one mile at the same pace I was running 10 mile tempos before. But there was something that wouldn’t let me give up on giving this track team a shot, despite how unlikely it seemed.”
Chicago Marathon officials also announced that Galen Rupp, who won the Olympic Marathon Trials in February and will compete in Tokyo, will also race in October.
“It’s been too long since I’ve been back [to the Chicago Marathon], and when I thought about where I wanted to chase the American Record, I thought it would be more exciting to do it at home, in the U.S.,” Hall said, in a written statement, “and Chicago is such an epic race. I’m really excited to have my best marathon yet on U.S. soil.”