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New York City Marathon the last major test before Olympic Trials

Track and Field: US Olympic Team Trials Marathon

Feb 29, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Kellyn Taylor places eighth in the womens race in 2:29:55 during the US Olympic Team Trials marathon. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kellyn Taylor knows exactly how long it is between the New York City Marathon and the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“13 weeks, and if I can’t get ready for a marathon in 13 weeks, then I probably shouldn’t be out here,” she said Thursday. “It shouldn’t be an issue.”

Sunday’s five-borough race marks the last major marathon before trials Feb. 3 in Orlando, where the top three men and top three women are likely to make the team for Paris.

The short turnaround between New York City and trials was a bigger issue in past Olympic cycles. But advances in shoe technology over the last decade yielded benefits in recovery. Some pros even run three marathons per year rather than the traditional two.

That said, most of the top Olympic hopefuls raced the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8. In New York City, a few more can bolster their cases.

Taylor and Molly Huddle return to the marathon after having daughters last year.

Taylor, 37, was eighth at the 2020 Olympic Trials and sixth in New York City in 2021, her most recent marathon. She gave birth to Keagan on Dec. 28, then returned to racing in June.

Taylor said she inquired to Chicago Marathon organizers about racing there instead of New York City, but the interest was not mutual.

“I can run 2:23 on this course,” Taylor said of the hilly New York City route. “That could set me up for something special on a certain day.”

Breaking 2:25 would put Taylor right in the mix of Olympic contenders given the fastest U.S. women’s time in New York City history is 2:24:42 (Molly Seidel, 2021). Taylor’s best time in three New York City starts is 2:26:10, the third-fastest U.S. women’s time in race history.

Huddle, a 39-year-old who made the 2012 and 2016 Olympics on the track, races her first marathon on Sunday since dropping out of the 2020 Olympic Trials after losing contact with the leaders around the 20th mile.

She had daughter Josephine in April 2022, then was sidelined for a few months last winter and spring by a femoral stress fracture.

She said her fitness is “kind of a question mark,” that her build-up was reduced coming off the injury and that she considered not racing a fall marathon.

Her goal is to at least break 2:29:30, the minimum Olympic qualifying time.

On the men’s side, Elkanah Kibet and Futsum Zienasellassie rank sixth and ninth, respectively, by best times among Americans since the start of 2022.

Kibet, 40, ran his personal best of 2:09:07 at the April 2022 Boston Marathon, then that September was deployed to Poland with the U.S. Army, where he works in finance.

He spent 10 months in Europe and summarized his training in an interview with LetsRun with one word: sustaining. He ran, biked or mounted an elliptical when he could squeeze in the time. He still clocked a respectable 2:10:43 in Prague on May 7.

Kibet was fourth in the 2021 New York City Marathon in 2:11:15, the fastest time by an American in the Big Apple either of the last two years.

If he repeats that Sunday, he’ll move up the list of Olympic contenders that’s currently headed by Conner Mantz (2:07:47 in Chicago, a faster course).

Zienasellassie, a 30-year-old who was born in Eritrea and moved to Indianapolis at age 14, ran his first two marathons over the last 11 months. He clocked 2:11:01 in December and then 2:09:40 in April.