(Orlando, Fl.) — February 3rd, 2024 — Orlando, Florida, basked in a blaze of sunshine as tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans lined its streets to witness the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon on Saturday, creating a historic moment for the state. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation, and the event did not disappoint.
In a thrilling men’s race, training partners Conner Mantz and Clayton Young clinched the top two spots, finishing just seconds apart at 2:09:05 and 2:09:06, respectively. The drama unfolded as Leonard Korir, determined to redeem himself after narrowly missing the 2020 team, unleashed a formidable late surge to secure the third spot in 2:09:57.
On the women’s side, 25-year-old Fiona O’Keeffe etched her name in history, becoming the youngest-ever woman to win the Trials and achieving this feat in her marathon debut. O’Keeffe’s victory, clocked at 2:22:10, shattered the Trials record by over three minutes. Emily Sisson claimed second. Dakotah Lindwurm, who hails from St. Francis, Minnesota claimed the third spot, marking Lindwurm’s first international team appearance.
The women’s race witnessed an early surge led by Keira D’Amato, the second-fastest American woman in history. O’Keeffe took control at Mile 14 and asserted her dominance, finishing with a 40-second lead at Mile 25.
The event, organized by Track Shack and hailed by race director Jon Hughes as “the best Olympic Trials ever,” showcased not only the athletes’ lifetime achievements but also the overwhelming support from the Central Florida community.
In the men’s competition, the race unfolded at 15K, with Zach Panning initially setting the pace. The 30K mark saw a three-man breakaway by Panning, Mantz, and Young, with the latter two eventually securing the Olympic spots. Notably, Korir’s late surge added a gripping twist to the race, ensuring a nail-biting finish.
Downtown Orlando reverberated with the athletes’ joy, echoing the sentiments of O’Keeffe, who described the support as “absurdly loud.” The event showcased not only the elite athleticism on display but also the unity and spirit of the community, making it a milestone for both athletes and organizers alike.