The coverage of the US Olympic Trials Marathon by Runner’s World has been thorough. It began with this article, published on August 4, 2023, by Sara Lorge Butler, https://www.runnersworld.com/races-places/a44736548/olympic-marathon-trials-announcement-of-noon-start-time-prompts-athlete-backlash/.
The article created a lot of controversy. The simplest way to discuss was this: USATF’s Max Siegel overruled the Board, picking Orlando. The LOC and USATF announced a 12 noon start. And then, Olympic Trials marathon qualifiers began to ask out loud, Why noon?
Sara’s most recent piece, Could Orlando walk away from the Trials? , also stirred it up.
Almost immediately, marathoners who would race there had questions.
Nothing seems to have been done to take the anxiety away from the athletes. The LOC noted that they could lose $700k, and needed to hold the Trials with a time change. USATF suggested an earlier time. Letters were sent by the Athletes Advisory and John and Betsy Hughes.
Here are the five suggestions we are making to resolve the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials:
If late time changes are hurting LOC sponsorship, USATF and USOPC should make up the difference. Somehow, this situation, which should not have happened, is making news leads in running media and creating confusion. USATF and USOPC have the bucks. The LOC has put on many events and knows how to raise money and build quality events. The confusion around this event has compromised their sales efforts.
The Olympic Trials Marathon is one of the most valuable properties held by USATF and USOPC. Treat it that way. It behooves them to get the focus off the start time and allow the media to focus on the real stories of the hundreds of qualifiers. The Olympic Trials marathons are a big deal for the media and a huge deal for the running community.
I hope the race starts earlier in the morning. NBC would be fine with 10 AM, as that is 7 AM on the West Coast, and the huge fans would love it. Midwesterners and East Coast will be fine with any time. The Marathoners could get challenged with later time starts. NBC has done the coverage pretty well for decades.
Cooler heads need to prevail. Place an ombudsman. That no one saw this coming surprises me. Earlier starts are something begged by marathoners in all World Champs and Olympics. We need an ombudsman, someone who can make decisions and, suggest resolutions and tell the various groups when they are perhaps way too close to a crisis situation.
Paris course will be tough. We need a team that is championship-ready. The Paris course has a huge hill at a tough part of the race. The course is technical and will not be won in 2:01. The athletes who can handle the challenging footing, technical turns, and hellacious hill will be the successful ones. Oh, and also, Paris in August is hot as hell!