March 30, 2022
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2024 U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials:
Known: Not Atlanta. Unknown: Where, When, If
USATF has issued Requests for Proposals to hold the U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials. So far one city has made its intentions clear: Atlanta, host of the 2020 Trials, will not make a bid. The Atlanta Track Club's Director of Marketing and Communications Jay Holder, while praising "an incredible experience for this organization and Running City USA," said that it was someone else's turn to host the event. He added that "the city of Orlando is that place in 2024."

Sponsorship Restrictions

The Olympic Marathon Trials have long been crippled by restrictive sponsorship policies placed on the event by the USOPC and USATF which basically prohibit the Local Organizing Committee from raising sponsorship income to cover a portion of the costs. At least the last four cities to host the trials, Atlanta in 2020, Los Angeles in 2016, Houston in 2012 and New York and Boston in 2007 lost money on the event, in some reported instances over $1 million. After the 2020 trials, Atlanta TC Executive Director Rich Kenah told Road Race Management, “We won't be bidding on future Trials unless there is a significant change in the bid requirements. With due respect to our friends at USATF, it is my belief that they need to put more skin in the game and not rely exclusively on the LOC [Local Organizing Committee] and NBC to carry 100% of the expenses for the event. I believe there is a better model to be built that will incentivize excellence for all involved.” By all indications, that has not happened.

The 2024 bid form makes this clear with the following statement: “The USOPC owns all revenue sources, as well as all media and licensing rights, associated with the Olympic Team Trials - Marathon. No sponsor or partner that is not a USOPC sponsor may receive any recognition associated with the Olympic Team Trials - Marathon and no sponsor or partner may receive any benefits in association with the Olympic Trials without the express written consent of USATF and the USOPC. Furthermore, USATF and USOPC sponsors and suppliers shall have a right of first refusal with respect to business opportunities related to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon.” [Italics added by editor]
Will the Olympic Trials Even Be Used to Select the U.S. Team?

The longstanding sponsorship issues were compounded in 2020 by new IAAF (now World Athletics) policies regarding the selection of the Olympic Marathon Team. After the new rules --which mandated athletes bettering Olympic qualifying standards of 2:11:30 for men and 2:29:30 for women in a World Athletic Gold Label event -- were announced by World Athletics, Kenah faced the possibility that his top three men’s and women’s finishers would not be on the U.S. team. In the end, the World Athletics had to be prevailed upon by USATF to declare the U.S. Marathon Trials a "Gold Label" event on a one time basis, so that the top three men and women from the Trials would qualify to go to Tokyo even if they did not meet the ostensible Olympic qualifying times.

The tension that existed at the time between the preference of World Athletics that national teams be selected on the basis of its world rankings as opposed to a one-day trials format preferred by the U.S., continues to this day. Unresolved is the question of whether World Athletics will insist upon selection based on world rankings for 2024, or will allow countries to select their teams via in-country trials.

Furthermore, as pointed out by Race Results Weekly publisher David Monti, "when the pandemic hit, World Athletics dismantled their Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze race labeling system, so the entire concept of getting an Olympic Games qualifying mark based on a top-5 finish (in an in-country trials) was discontinued." This could rule out the means by which Atlanta got the 2020 U.S. Trials approved--a one-time assignment of Gold Label status to the race. Says Monti, "We don't know if that [labeling] system will be restored for Paris 2024." (In the end, the 2020 Atlanta qualifiers did run the Olympic Games qualifying times, but that was not a foregone conclusion.)

To date, World Athletics has not revealed their 2024 Olympic Games qualifying process.

In principle, the U.S. Trials could fail to meet the standards for selecting athletes to represent their country in the Olympics--defaulting to the world rankings method for selection.

The squeeze was been put on Olympic qualifying times due to World Athletics' target of 80 male and 80 female athletes for the Tokyo Olympics Marathon. Setting tight qualifying times was meant to take care of meeting those maximums, but along came super shoes and 88 women and 106 men started in Tokyo.

On the World Athletics as-yet-undetermined plan for 2024, Monti says, "it's safe to say that WA will be absolutely determined to get to that 80-athlete per gender quota."

USATF seems to be hedging its bets as the application form states “The U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon is USATF’s premier road racing event and may be used to select the US. Team of six athletes (three men, three women) for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris, France, to be held July 26 - August 11, 2024. Note particularly the word "may" not "will." [Editor’s note: Bold italics added for emphasis.]
In addition, a section of the bid form addresses the uncertainty of the trials being the selection race in the following paragraph buried on page 21 of the application form:

“USATF shall make good faith efforts to use the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon as
the selection event to select the U.S. Team of six marathon athletes (three men, three
women) for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris, France, to be held July 26 –
August 11, 2024 (“Games”); however, USATF must abide by all rules and regulations of
the international athletics federation (World Athletics), including its selection procedures
for the Games which may preclude the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon from serving
as the sole selection event for the Games.” [Italics added for emphasis.]

In an article on the new Olympic Trials standards for U.S. runners published in Runners World in December (a paywalled publication), journalist Sarah Lorge Butler observed that the USATF process of requesting proposals was "well behind its typical cycle" for the 2024 selection.

Reached by Road Race Management on March 29, an official from USATF's Long Distance Running Division said "no formal agreement has been reached about the status of the Trials."

The current timetable calls for bidders to declare their intention to bid by April 15, 2022, applications due by May 20 (along with a $25,000 deposit on a $100,000 rights fee) and a final decision by July 14, 2022. (“Subject to change,” the form notes.)
While Valentyna Veretska's husband remained in Ukraine battling Russian invaders, she waged a more kindly sort of battle on the streets of Jerusalem on March 26, winning the women's division in the Jerusalem Marathon in 2:45:54. She placed third overall in cold and windy conditions.

Veretska knows cold. She described fleeing to Poland and spending a night at the border in temperatures below freezing--as cold as -5 C. (23 degrees Fahrenheit). Some people, she said, didn't wake up. She had not trained in a month but felt called to Jerusalem to "show the world that peace and love is the most important thing. . . . I hope for peace in my country very soon."
In conjunction with the celebration of 40 years of publishing Road Race Management Newsletter, the company is launching a newly-reconfigured version of its Longest Serving Race Director Rankings. The listing, which debuted in 2019, will now allow any race director who has directed the same race for five years or more to be included by completing this easy-to-use form. The listings are searchable by a number of different criteria including race distance, country, state, and gender. Biographical data and photos of the directors will be listed if supplied.
Laddie Lawrence stood at the top of the list at the end of 2019 with an impressive record of directing the Westport Summer Series for 56 years. Click Here for an interview with Lawrence, which appeared in the August 2020 issue of Road Race Management Newsletter. Many other luminaries in the race directing world follow closely behind Lawrence, including James Balcome of the Manchester Road Race (44 years), Dusty Rhodes of the Boston 10K for Women (43 years) and Jon Hughes of the Lady Track Shack 5K (42 years).
The transgender flag was designed by trans woman Monica Helms in 1999
The hotly contentious issue of transgender girls' participation in sports passed a milestone when the Utah Republican-dominated legislature voted to override Governor Spencer Cox's veto of a bill barring transgender girls from participating in sports based on their chosen gender identity.

The vote, 56-18 in the Utah House and 21-8 in the Utah Senate, split largely along party lines, with Republicans supporting the ban (the governor whose veto they overrode is a Republican). In the House, only two Republicans voted against the override, with another two Republicans in the Senate voting against the override.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Kera Birkeland, said “I truly believe we’re here to uphold Title IX, to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and to do so in a way unlike other states.” Asked why the supporters of the bill could not reach a compromise, Birkeland said, "You cannot compromise women's liberties."

Another supporter of the bill, Candice Pierucci, acknowledged the controversial nature of the issue, saying, “I think though, at this point, we are doing our best to try to thread a needle . . . to preserve women’s sports and find a path forward."

Utah Republican Daniel Thatcher opposed the override, while acknowledging it would doom his political future among conservatives. “How can I uphold my oath to defend the constitution by voting for a bill we know is unconstitutional? This bill will never go into effect. It's political theater, because we won't get any of the benefits but all of the harms," said Thatcher.

The Utah legislature and the governor have wrestled with the issue for almost two years. In early March, a body measurements provision was struck from the bill.

In Iowa, a ban on transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports at schools, colleges and universities in the state was signed into law by governor Kim Reynolds on March 4th.

In a more recent parallel but unresolved development, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb vetoed a transgender girl sports ban which he initially supported but concluded it fell short of "providing a consistent statewide policy" for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports.” In Indiana, the legislature may override the governor's veto by simple majority in both houses of the legislature, and an attempt to override the veto may take place as soon as May 24.

The ACLU has said litigation over transgender youth school sports bans is certain.
Until 1976, no marathon had drawn more than 1,000 runners except the Boston Marathon. In that year, the New York City Marathon--then six years old--drew more than 1,500 to race the newly-designed five-borough-wide course. By 2019 the race had grown to the world's largest with 50,000+ participants. The formation of the Association of International Marathon (AIMS) in 1982 consolidated a membership organization with the purpose "to foster and promote running throughout the world, to work with the IAAF (now World Athletics) on all matters relating to international Marathons; and (iii) to exchange information, knowledge and expertise among members of the Association."

In Distance Running 2022, Edition 1, Hugh Jones recounts the development of AIMs from its origins in 1981 up through 2022.
13.4 Million tickets will be available for Paris 2024: 10 million for the Olympics and 3.4 for the Paralympics on a worldwide digital platform designed to provide greater certainty for potential purchasers. Unlike the process at previous Games, where people have reserved tickets and then had to wait for a draw process in which they may or may not be successful, the Paris 2024 model will involve a random draw at the beginning of the process.

The process is due to start for the Olympics at the end of 2022 with the opening of registration to take part in the draw, with the launch of sales of tickets scheduled to be in February 2023.

Woman dies in hospital after collapsing at finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon. Trisha Paddock, a married mother of three, had run the Charity Challenge Half Marathon to raise money for the Asian American Drug Abuse Program. Paddock's death on March 20 is the first related to the LA Marathon since 2007.
B.A.A. unveils honorary women's team for 126th Boston Marathon. The Boston Athletic Association announced an honorary team of eight women to participate in the 126th Boston Marathon to be run on April 18th.
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