Over a week removed, and we’re slowly starting to come down from the Olympic Trials Marathon high. By now you’re sure to know that the US will be sending Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, Sally Kipyego, Galen Rupp, Jacob Riley, and Abdi Abdirahman to the Tokyo Olympics this summer. BDP was reeling – had their bets placed on who would make the team, how our own athletes would do, and had an epic watch party full of donuts and mimosas, jumping up and down in excitement as Bellingham’s own Jacob Riley cross the finish in 2nd place.
For more information on the Olympic Marathon Team, check out this article – U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Deliver Thrilling Finishes in Atlanta by Chris Chavez of Sports Illustrated.
Our athletes Courtney Olsen and Kennedy Rufener had an incredible time, thanks to the spot on service, organization and care that Atlanta Track Club presented as host of the event. The two would go on to have mixed results, with Olsen finishing in 54th place in 2:41:36, and Rufener making the tough call to drop near halfway due to a lingering injury. She wasn’t without high caliber company however, as Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson, Sara Hall, Allie Kieffer and many others would also drop. It was tough out there, as graciously noted by all of the commentators, supporters and athletes themselves. Most if not all went in fully aware that the course would be hilly, perhaps the hilliest they’d yet run, but perhaps weren’t as privy to the gusts. It was a bright blue day made colder by the whipping wind, the newscasters on scene trying to hold down their papers, Deena Kastor’s face reddening from the cold in the press truck leading the women’s race.
Olsen was on pace to run a similarly seeded time of sub-2:37 for just about half of the race, but the wind was a beast that added to a growing fatigue, and she positive-split the second half to finish in 2:41:36. Not knowing her place till she crossed the finish line, she was happy to have beat her seed (62nd).
Washington State sent 11 women (and 6 men) to the Olympic Trials: Andrea Masterson (Seattle), Caroline Austin (Vancouver), Casey Kilareski (Seattle), Claire DeVoe (Seattle), Desiree Berry (Mercer Island), Kari Hamilton (Spokane), Kate Landau (Tacoma), Ladia Albertson-Junkans (Snoqualmie), Moira O’Connor Lenth (Seattle), as well as our ladies, Olsen and Rufener from Bellingham. Their finishing seeds were as follows:
- Kate Landau (#28) – 14th in 2:34:07
- Courtney Olsen (#62) – 54th in 2:41:36
- Andrea Masterson (#67) – 90th in 2:43:24
- Caroline Austin (#456) – 118th in 2:44:45
- Moira O’Connor Lenth (#325) – 140th in 2:46:08
- Ladia Alberton-Junkans (#179) – 141st in 2:46:08
- Kari Hamilton (#87) – 205th in 2:49:12
- Claire DeVoe (#231) – 373rd in 3:06:26
*DNS – Berry
*DNF – Kilareski, Rufener
Out of the top 60 women at the Olympic Trials Marathon, it appears that about half are unsponsored. Some have collected one-to-a-few affiliations, but don’t seem to be supported by way of shoes, apparel, stipend, etc. *The # of unsponsored athletes includes potential one-offs like the Tracksmith OTQ Program athletes. There’s a few things I can’t vet however: is Roots Running still affiliated with 361? Doesn’t seem like it. Is Sarah Sellers still with Altra? Does running for the US Air Force garner any aid? Some of the confusion comes from not seeing any recent affiliate news (just outdated), and also in seeing some formerly or currently sponsored (non-Nike) athletes racing in Nikes.
It feels as if we’re in the midst of another running boom, a boom largely filled with the unsponsored amateurs, and that the stories that are fueling various media channels are of mothers, pregnant women racing in the Trials, full time professionals, coaches, triathletes and trail runners who turn to the roads every now and then, and on. A part of me thinks that the top 100 should be supported in some way, the other part of me thinks blue collar running and underdog fights are sexy as hell. I mean, it speaks to the essence of our team.
A brief mention about “the shoes” – Trials qualifiers were given the option of a free pair of Nike Alphafly’s, with the murmur on the street that some brands allowed their athletes to race in them, and also maybe not. Check out this article written by Robert Johnson at Letsrun, though we highly encourage dipping into all reports from both sides for the best picture. The shoes are a hot commodity, as they were expected to be, and some OTQ athletes put them up for sale (going price – around $1500).
We could go on for a long while about all the lovely little details of the Olympic Trials Marathon weekend, but we’ll leave you with a few notes instead: Atlanta Track Club is extraordinary at what they do, the service industry in Atlanta is top notch, extremely kind and people seem to care about their job/s, we’re really proud of our women, their choices, and their varying story-lines on getting to the trials (Olsen has been on the hunt since narrowly missing it in 2016, Rufener ran an OTQ in her debut marathon, and nearly bounced back to run a 2nd 2 months later), Tracksmith was clutch in supporting our two athletes towards the Olympic Trials and made lux kits to race in, brands like Nuun, Maurten, Gu, and Roll Recovery stepped up to show the amateurs that they mattered by providing products, and lastly, the amount of support our athletes felt by their families, friends, teammates, BDP, and the Bellingham community was outrageous.