by Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell
Those of us in the running community look forward to an amazing and wonderful event called the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon. Occurring only once every four years, it is *the event* that determines which six runners, three women and three men, are selected to represent our country at the Olympic Marathon, this year in Tokyo. Many countries simply select the six runners, but since 1968 for men and 1984 for women, the U.S. has selected our team via this unique event.
In the two years leading up to the event, the best runners in America strive to meet the qualifying times to participate in this event. And for the 2020 event, a record 261 men and 510 women met the qualifying standards, with most declaring their intention to run in Atlanta, where this event will be held.
Pennsylvania leads the way with 22 marathoners, 17 women and 5 men. Virginia is sending 20, of which 15 are women. New Jersey has eight and all but one are women. Maryland has four, of which three are women. District of Columbia has four, two men and two women. Delaware and West Virginia are the only mid-Atlantic states that won’t be represented in Atlanta.
Sacramento’s California International Marathon (CIM) had 89 qualifiers, Chicago had 34, Grandma’s 21, Houston 15 (with another 12 in their half-marathon), and Indianapolis 11. Abbott World Majors were in the single digits: Berlin 8, Boston 6, and New York City 5.
More than 700 athletes qualified. California led the women with 63 athletes, Colorado led the men with 34. 510 women and 261 men qualified.
The fastest Mid-Atlantic runner is Roberta Groner of Ledgewood, NJ with a 2:29:09 set in Rotterdam, Netherlands last April. Groner is 41, and represented the USA in Doha, Qatar in the World Championships Marathon in wicked heat and humidity and placed 6th overall. Martin Hehir of Philadelphia, a former Syracuse University star, leads the men with a 2:13:49.
Crystal Bacon of Skippack, PA qualified with a 2:44:12 in Indianapolis. I asked Crystal if she was excited about Atlanta. She responded: “It’s a mix of emotions, but excitement is definitely one of them! I just hope all the hill training I have been doing has been enough for this course.” Samantha Snukis of Stowe, PA qualified with a 2:44:13 at the 2018 CIM in Sacramento. Sam is an elite triathlete as well. She won Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid in 2018. Jenny Goswami of Gladwyne, PA qualified with a 2:43:02 at Twin Cities in her native Minnesota. I asked her if she was ready for Atlanta. She responded: “I think so! I’m just excited to be there.”
Philadelphia women dominated the state OQ list: Christine Ramsey (2:41:12), Kayla Lampe (2:41:55), Meghan Bishop (2:42:17), Stephanie Knast (2:43:26), Siobhan O’Connor (2:43:48), Anne Marie Everhart (2:44:09), Kylie Pearse (2:43:02), Katie Rodden of Ardmore (2:40:50), Karen Dunn 43, of Trappe (2:43:59), and Margaret Vido of Allentown (2:42:50) all live in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Western Pennsylvania is led by Clara Santucci of Lawrence (2:41:20) who has a 2:29:54 PB and finished 7th in the 2012 Houston Olympic Trials. Santucci is a West Virginia native and ran for WVU. Jennifer Bigham (2:41:37), Laura Harnish (2:43:13), and Margo Malone (2:42:22) all of Pittsburgh. Malone qualified in Zurich, Switzerland.
Colin Leak (2:14:14) of Chadds Ford who was also the 2019 Berwick Run for the Diamonds winner, leads the PA men along with Hehir. Matthew Herzig (2:17:02), Duriel Hardy (2:18:22) of Philadelphia, and Nick Edinger (2:18:32) of Mars (yes, that’s in Western PA), who went to nearby Pittsburgh to run his OQ, will be the Pennsylvania male contingent.
Some ex-pat Pennsylvanians include Nicholas Hilton of Flagstaff, AZ, He ran 2:17:52 for his Disney Marathon win, and was the 2014 Berwick Run for the Diamonds winner. Hilton is from Reading, PA. Juris Silenieks of Bath, Michigan ran a 2:17:37 in Philadelphia 2018 and is from Pittsburgh. Ann Mazur of Charlottesville, VA who ran a 2:44:47 OQ in Sacramento is a proud native of Pittsburgh. With no OQ runners from the 717 area code of Central Pennsylvania, it will be up to former Shippensburg runner Neely Spence Gracey (2:44:03) to carry the local hopes. Neely now lives in Lafayette, Colorado with husband Dillon and baby boy Athens.
I asked Neely a few questions about the large number of women’s qualifiers, and why.
“I have a few theories about the impressive women’s field numbers: 1. The standard was the slowest it has been in years and if you look at the data, over 120 women qualified in that final minute 2:44-2:45. I think that the women who ran in the 2:50s saw an opportunity and went for it, which in past years, that low 2:40 mark was a bit more aggressive. 2. It seems that it is becoming more and more “accepted” or “common” to be able to take years away from the sport for career/family, etc. or to find running later in life after those things, and still be successful. 3. More races (again this is my opinion) seemed to set up OTQ pace groups, and it became a more widespread thing to have that support to work together and to pace smart and not get too fast too soon.
“The men’s standard was definitely tougher if we’re comparing 2:45 to 2:19. It’s also tougher to have pacers for them vs. the women.”
Nearby Maryland is sending Hannah Cocchiaro (2:40:08) of Columbia, Caroline Bauer (2:44:07) of Elkridge, and Maura Linde (2:44:37) of Sykesville. Zachary Hine (2:16:36) of Kensington is the lone Maryland man.
District of Columbia is sending 2016 Baltimore Marathon champ Caitlyn Tateshi (2:43:39), Kerry Allen (2:41:33), Nick Golebiowski (2:18:42), and Daniel Meteer (2:17:38).
New Jersey is sending Roberta Groner (2:29:08), Amanda Marino (2:35:09) of Asbury Park, Alexandra Niles of Montclair (2:40:03), Nicholette Mateescu (2:42:40) of Kendall Park, Bianco Toledo (2:43:52) of Bergenfield, Allison Goldstein (2:44:14) of Jersey City, and Brianna Deming (2:44:35) of Morristown. The lone male is Mark Leininger (2:18:00) of Colts Neck.
Virginia is sending Keira D’Amato (2:34:55) of Midothian, Teal Burrell (2:39:11) of Richmond, Brittany Tretbar 2:41:29) of Charlottesville, Kelly Calway (2:42:27) of McLean, Kristen Lawrence (2:42:46) of Virginia Beach, Susanna Sullivan (2:43:31) of Reston, Lindsay Carrick (2:43:43) of Fredericksburg, Perry Shoemaker  (2:43:33) of Vienna, Rachel Viger (2:44:13) of Springfield, Sarah Anyan (2:44:01) of Arlington, Meaghan Nelson (2:44:36) of Williamsburg, Jillian Pollack (2:44:44) of Arlington, and Ann Mazur (2:44:47) of Charlottesville. Tim Young (2:14:16) of Fredericksburg leads the men, with Jackson Neff (2:17:21) and Charlie Hurt (2:18:33) both of Charlottesville. Chase Weaverling of Charlottesville and Kieran O’Connor of Arlington are also listed.
You won’t see all of the qualifiers on the television coverage, but watch the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon on NBC from 12 noon to 3 pm on February 29, 2020. You can also view a live stream through the NBC website and NBC Sports. You may even get a glimpse of your Runner’s Gazette photojournalists, Karen Mitchell and Clay Shaw.
Categories: Race Coverage