The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials are coming to Atlanta in a short 2 weeks! I am beyond excited for the running community to be coming to my city and watching the top runners in our country run up and down the street that has been my daily running route for the past 3 years. When I looked at the course map, I gasped in surprise and excitement that the route that I have memorized by every pot hole and elevation change will be ran by the top runners I’ve been watching for years.
Here, I have compiled the map, important information, events of interest, local food deals, and the runners I will be watching in particular (especially one whom I’ve ran many miles with back in 2018!). I will also be organizing friends to watch the race. If you would like to watch the Olympic Trials on February 29th with me in Atlanta – please message me!! I’ll be picking a spot along Peachtree where we will see the qualifiers run by 6 times. You can also watch via NBC starting at 12:00 EST.
The route is tough! The full 26.2 mile course has an overall elevation gain of 1389 feet and elevation decline of 1382 feet. It will start and end in Centennial Olympic Park, and loop around my neighborhood, going right up and down Peachtree Road, where I live.
How does one qualify for the Olympic Trials? For the marathon, its a fairly simple time standard. Anyone, no matter if they are a professional runner for Nike, or a nurse who ran high school cross country, can qualify if they run another marathon in a fast enough time. Women need to run a marathon that is faster than 2:45:00. This is a 2 hour, 45 minute marathon which translates into 6:17 minute per mile pace. For the men, qualifying time is 2:19:00 which is a 5:18 min/mile pace.
Only the top 3 finishers of the race will go on to compete in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics! For the marathon, anything can happen. In 2018, the conditions in Boston were so bad that most of the professional runners dropped out of the race and a virtually unknown full time nurse placed second! That’s not likely to happen again. I predict rain. The local Atlanta Publix Marathon is this weekend every year and I’ve stopped running it because it’s always raining. But overall, the conditions will be quite good in terms of distance running. Not too warm, not too cold. Just hilly.
Who am I excited to watch?
It’s not those that are supposed to win – but rather a select few that have inspired me, encouraged me, and gets me excited about running.
- Des Linden – she inspires me. She was the female winner of the Boston Marathon in 2018. She’s a phenomenal runner, an expected frontrunner for the trials, and overall running philosopher. Seriously, follow her on Instagram. My favorite of her quotes: “Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got and try to be better. My Advice: keep showing up.
- Lacey Krout – she has encouraged me! I ran with Lacy in the summer of 2018. It was her off season and I was training for the Chicago Marathon. She’s fast. She’s encouraging, and she’s an Atlanta Track Club Elite runner! Her goal is to place in the top 100. I am beyond excited to be able to cheer her on.
- Leigh Anne Sharek – she gets me excited about running just watching her journey on instagram! I first found out about her when Nike featured her in a commercial highlighting her story, her running, and the Brooklyn Track Club which she co-founded. I’ve been following her in Instagram ever since. I was particularly excited to find a runner who also has a full time job, who is also a full time scientist, and loves to organizes runners in her community. I see a lot of myself in her. She’s just a bit faster. She has been training incredibly hard and I have a feeling she will be running her fastest marathon ever here in Atlanta.
Local Atlanta Events
Surrounding the Olympic Trials weekend – please send me a message if you know of any additional events to add! I’ll be at all of these – message me if you will be too!
- 6:30pm – Big Peach Running Company Midtown (our local running store) is doing a ‘Saucany Endorphin Pro Launch & Learn’ where you can meet athletes Molly Huddle and Jared Ward. Food and drink will be provided! Register here: Big Peach Events
- 6am – November Project’s workout in Piedmont Park! Meet at the 12th street entrance of the park, the workout will involve running over to Oak Hill (one of my personal favorite views of ATL) for a hill workout. Afterwards a large group will be running to the Midtown MARTA station to catch the 7:30am run that starts downtown at Switchyards
- 7:30am – Brooks and November Project Atlanta chapter is hosting a shakeout run. It’ll be a 5kish run starting at Switchyards to the Olympic Rings near Turner Field and back.
- 9-10am – Chris Chaves, creator of Citius Magazine and writer for Sports Illustrated, will moderate a discussion with Keith and Kevin Hanson about their influential work with elite US distance runners and the history of their team. Located at Switchyards downtown
- 9am – 5pm – The Georgia World Congress Center is host to a large amount of panels and cool events – check out the picture below
- 10:30am – McKirdy Trained Shakeout run at Stats Brew Pub, open to spectators and olympic trial runners alike. There will be a chat about the trials and then a casual 20-30 minute group run. This is a great opportunity to run and meet some of those that will be racing! After the shakeout run they’ll be grabbing lunch at Stats Brew Pub
- 11:30am – 12:30pm – at Switchyards, Emily Abbate, host of ‘Hurdle’ podcast and freelance writer, will moderate a conversation with several of Brooks Running’s Hometown Hero athletes – everyday runners who have qualified for the trials without being a professional runner
- 2:00pm – Run to the Finish, a running blog, is having a book launch event for their new book! This event will be co-hosted by The Runner Beans, who recently released her cookbook. The event will include a panel of athletes from Insider Tracker, drinks from Core Power, a group run (optional), giveaways, and getting to know others in our running community. Register here: Run to the Finish
- 3-7pm – Rabbit, GU Energy Labs, and Insider Tracker are hosting a Happy Hour and BBQ at 124 Thirkield Ave SE, Atlanta GA 30315. They will provide BBQ, brews, and swag. They are also doing giveaways and there will be NormaTec recovery boots for anyone who wants to try them. Open to everyone!
- 3-5pm – A group of women including Celeste Goodson of ReCORE Fitness, Lindsey Hein from ‘I’ll have another’ podcast, Mary Thon from Lift Run Perform and Erica Sara Designs is hosting a social meet up at New Realm Brewery (fantastic local spot, I’ve celebrated many friends birthday’s there). It will be cohosted by Koala Clip (a cool device to carry your phone while you run)
- 8am: A pre-race run open to all, Rabbit will be hosting a short 26.2 minute run to kick off the day. Meet at 1798 Monroe Dr NE, Atlanta GA 30324
- Noon: 2020 Olympic Trials!! The men are expected to start at 12:03 and the women are expected to start at 12:13pm
- Saturday, Feb 29: Afterpary hosted by Tracksmith at Georgia Beer Garden. They plan on “busting open the microphones and debriefing with some fo the race participants in what could be the loudest and rowdiest episode of the Citius Mag Podcast”
- 7am: Atlanta Publix Marathon/Half Marathon – our annual race here in Atlanta – Olympian Meb Keflezighi will be pacing the half marathon for the 1:40 finishers!
Local food deals
Some Midtown restaurants have food deals! I presume these will be overcrowded, so I’ll be most likely running home afterward. But, if you’re coming to town for the trials you might want to check them out. If you’d like further local food recommendations for the weekend, please send me a private message.
- Olive Bistro – $20 bottomless mimosas, sangrias, and Bellinis, as well as $5 meze and house drinks
- City Tap – $2.62 Michelob Ultra on draft and 10% off brunch for people who “show their gold” (Midtown is really trying to get everyone to wear Gold for the race)
Most of the road will be closed – to be honest, as someone who lives in this neighborhood, please don’t drive. Marta is great! There is actually free parking for MARTA at select stations, particularly Lindbergh. I would park there and ride to either the Midtown station or North Ave. If you’re going to the starting line/finish line, go to ‘Dome-GWCC-PhilipsArena-CNN’. Otherwise, consider biking, running, or walking!
If you are looking for a location to give your Uber driver, it depends on how far you’d like to walk and where you are coming from. If you’re coming from the North/West/South and will be taking a highway, I’d recommend giving them the address for the Midtown Marta station. It’s one of the easiest access points off of the highway and only one block from the race course. If you’re coming from the East of the city, anywhere near Emory/Decatur/Stone Mountain direction, I would put in Mary Mac’s Tea room (a local restaurant). It’s on the main road of Ponce de Leon, which should make it one of the better roads for traffic, and it’s about a 2 block walk to the course.
If you are an Atlanta local who wants to watch the race with me, I can message you for private street parking where we can jog/walk about one mile to the course.
As you can see, I am beyond excited for America’s Marathon weekend! I love my city, Atlanta, and can’t wait for it to be the focus of the running community. It’ll be inspiring, encouraging, and a surreal experience overall. I want to give a ginormous shout-out to the Atlanta Track Club who has been doing tremendous amounts of work the past few years to put on this event. I remember a run 2 years ago where they had already started planning. My former coach, and Olympian, Amy Begley, has been a driving force behind the scenes on all of this. Thank you Amy! And a big thank you to all of the volunteers. Several of my friends are volunteering throughout the weekend and I want to say that you are appreciated!
Cannot wait to see you all out there. And can’t wait to hear from you if you’d like to spectate with me! Best of luck to all the runners. Let’s show the world why we love this sport <3