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Report03 Feb 2024

O’Keeffe and Mantz victorious at US Olympic Marathon Trials


Fiona O'Keeffe wins the US Olympic Marathon Trials (© USATF)

Conner Mantz and marathon debutante Fiona O’Keeffe secured their selection for Paris by winning the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando on Saturday (3).

The races played out in contrasting fashion; O’Keeffe made an ambitious break with more than seven miles to go in the women’s race and then went on to win by more than half a minute in 2:22:10.

Mantz, meanwhile, worked alongside Clayton Young in the closing stages to move past long-time leader Zachery Panning. The duo ran together for the final two-and-a-half miles, right up until the last few metres when Mantz edged ahead to win in 2:09:05.

A pack of 12 women ran together in the early stages, passing five miles 27:03 and 10 miles in 54:27. O’Keeffe was part of that pack, alongside many of the other key contenders, including Emily Sisson, Keira D’Amato, Sara Hall, Caroline Rotich, Betsy Saina, Dakotah Lindwurm and Lindsay Flanagan.

D’Amato led the pack as they reached the halfway point in 1:11:43, putting them well on schedule to finish inside the Olympic qualifying time of 2:26:50. But by 16 miles, D’Amato had fallen a few seconds behind the lead pack, which was now down to nine.

O’Keeffe started to stretch ahead of the field shortly before the 19-mile point. The other leading opponents, most of whom are seasoned marathon runners, opted not to go with her, but it proved a decisive move for the marathon novice.

O’Keeffe’s lead grew with each mile. At one point, at mile 25, she had a 40-second lead over Sisson. Further back, Hall’s challenge was starting to fade, but Lindwurm was making her way through the field. Meanwhile, D’Amato, Saina and Jenny Simpson, making her marathon debut, all withdrew at various points in the second half.

But up front, O’Keeffe was having the race of her life, and she went on to cross the finish line in 2:22:10. Sisson claimed runner-up spot in 2:22:42, while Lindwurm took third place in 2:25:31, all three women securing their selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The men’s race started out with a decent sized lead pack of about 10 men passing through 10 miles in 49:07. By the half-way mark, reached in 1:14:07, eight men were still in contention, led by Panning.

At 19 miles a lead trio comprising Penning, Mantz and Young managed to break away from the rest of the pack. By this point, the leaders were on course for a 2:07:40 finish – comfortably inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:08:10. Only two US men – Mantz and Young – have achieved that mark within the qualifying period, but this event was an opportunity for other athletes to chase that time.

Panning continued to lead through the 23-mile point, but his fatigue soon became clear. Mantz and Young broke away from Panning, opening up a sizeable gap on the rest of the field, while Panning was passed by Elkanah Kibet and Leonard Korir in the closing stages.

Young and Mantz ran together for the final two miles and at one point it seemed as though they’d cross the line in unison, but Mantz edged ahead right before the line to claim victory in 2:09:05. Young followed one second later, guaranteeing his Olympic selection in 2:09:06.

Korir came through to take third place in 2:09:57, five seconds ahead of Kibet.

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