USATF Announces Faster Qualifying Standards of 2:18 and 2:37 for 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials

By Jonathan Gault
December 3, 2021

On Friday, the numbers that thousands of Americans will spend the next two years chasing were revealed to the world: the qualifying standards for the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials. To qualify for the Trials — which still do not have a date or location — men will have to run 1:03:00 or faster in the half marathon or 2:18:00 or faster in the marathon. Women will have to run 1:12:00 or faster in the half marathon or 2:37:00 or faster in the marathon.

The standards are faster across the board than in 2020, particularly on the women’s side, where the marathon standard previously stood at 2:45:00. Here’s a full comparison of the standards over the last three cycles:

Article continues below player.
Year Men’s half Men’s marathon Women’s half Women’s marathon
2016 1:05:00 2:19:00 1:15:00 2:45:00
2020 1:04:00 2:19:00 1:13:00 2:45:00
2024 1:03:00 2:18:00 1:12:00 2:37:00

The qualifying period for the 2024 Trials begins on January 1, 2022, for marathon performances. For half marathon performances, the qualifying window begins January 1, 2023. The qualifying window closes 60 days before the Trials, according to USATF Long Distance Running Division Chair Michael Scott. By comparison, during the last cycle, the qualifying window was already open at this point in time as the marathon qualifying period began September 1, 2017, and the half marathon qualifying period began September 1, 2018.

It was widely expected that the qualifying standards would be tightened for  2024 after the 2020 Trials featured the largest field in meet history. In 2020, USATF reported that 773 athletes qualified (260 men, 513 women), with 685 starting the races in Atlanta (235 men, 450 women). In particular, the women’s marathon standard was expected to be lowered significantly.

Jake Riley, Galen Rupp and Abdi Abdirahman at the 2020 Trials

In 2020, the qualifying standards were 2:19:00 and 2:45:00, but the reason behind those standards was out of USATF’s control. Initially, USATF had set standards of 2:18:00 and 2:43:00 for the 2016 Trials, but wound up relaxing those standards to 2:19:00 2:45:00 (since the entry standards for the US championships cannot be faster than the Olympic standards, per the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act). USATF kept the same standards for the 2020 Trials, and those times became significantly easier to attain once carbon-plated super shoes began hitting stores in 2017. After qualifying for the 2020 US Trials had already begun, World Athletics announced significantly tougher standards for the 2020 Olympic marathon (2:11:30/2:29:30), and while the change came too late to affect standards for the 2020 Trials, it gave USATF the freedom to impose tougher Trials standards for 2024.

How much smaller would the 2020 Trials have been had they used the 2024 standards instead of the 2020 standards? We ran through the data from the last qualifying window and the results appear in the table below. The projected decrease in the number of qualifiers is drastic as the number of women’s qualifiers is projected to drop from 513 to 91 and the men from 260 to 169.

 Projected # of Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifiers
2020 standards 2024 standards
Men’s Half 27 12
Men’s Full 233 157
Total # Men’s qualifiers 260 169
Women’s Half 12 8
Women’s Full 501 83
Total # Women’s Qualifiers 513 91

That’s an enormous reduction. Only 65.0% of men would have qualified in 2020 under the 2024 standards. On the women’s side, the gap was even bigger — only 17.7% of women would have qualified under the 2024 standards. And remember, the qualifying window will be shorter for 2024 as well.

Talk about the new standards on our world-famous fan forum/messageboard: MB: 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials Standards Are Out: 63:00/2:18:00 for Men, 72:00/2:37:00 for Women.

Date & Location of 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships Announced; 10K Trials Will Be Held Separately at Mt. SAC

In other news to emerge from the USATF Annual Meeting in Orlando, agent Dan Lilot has reported that the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships will be held at Hayward Field in Eugene from June 23-26. However, the 10,000 meters, heptathlon, decathlon, and 20k race walks will be held separately. Lilot said the reasoning was “purportedly” the quick turnaround between USAs and the World Championships (which will also be held in Eugene from July 15-24).

The 10,000m trials would be held instead at Mt. SAC on May 20, a month before USAs. The early date would give athletes more time to recover (there are just three weeks between USAs and Worlds) and make it easier to try out for both the 5,000m and 10,000m teams (in previous non-Olympic years, the 5,000m and 10,000m were both held in a four-day span at USAs, a tough double for distance runners). Great Britain has had success with a similar concept by staging its 10,000m trials as part of the Night of the 10,000m PBs event.

On the flip side, top collegians would face a tough choice. A 10,000m trials would fall in the week between conference weekend (May 14-15) and the NCAA regional meets (May 26-28). Racing all three meets plus NCAAs (June 8-11) would not be feasible.


Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards