USATF Awards 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials to Orlando
November 8, 2022
Distance running fans’ long national nightmare is over.
On Tuesday, almost four months after the Trials were supposed to be awarded, USATF announced that Orlando, Fla., will host the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials on February 3, 2024. The top three finishers in the race with the qualifying standard will be selected to the US team for the 2024 Olympic marathons in Paris, which will be held August 10-11, 2024. The race will be produced by Track Shack, a race management company led by Jon and Betsy Hughes that stages a number of events in the Orlando area.
Chattanooga, Tenn., was the only other city known to be interested in bidding.
While we now know when and where the Trials will be held, there are still a number of things to be straightened out between now and the race 452 days from now. One is the course, which has yet to be announced. Another is the Olympic standards, which are also yet to be announced by World Athletics. While the top three finishers at each of the last five Olympic Trials have all made the team, that is not guaranteed this time around as the Olympic standards are expected to get significantly harder in 2024.
The qualifying standards for the 2024 Trials are 63:00/2:18:00 for men and 72:00/2:37:00 for women.
A few thoughts on the Trials in Orlando.
Quick Take: Thank goodness we finally have a site and date
The announcement of Orlando as Trials host came much later than usual. The 2016 Trials were awarded in January 2014 and the 2020 Trials in April 2018, so for the 2024 Trials to be awarded in November 2022 is a significant delay. USATF explained that part of that is due to potential changes to the 2024 Olympic qualifying system and Olympic qualifying standards and the uncertainty that could create for a host city.
There was some concern that, due to those uncertainties as well as the heavy financial burdens placed on the local organizing committee, the Trials might not happen at all in 2024 – or at least in the way we’re used to seeing them. Fortunately, USATF did its best to ensure the traditional Trials went ahead and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission stepped up to bid for it.
It has not been the smoothest road to the 2024 Trials, and Orlando will have less time than a typical Trials host to organize and promote the event. But at least now fans, athletes, and coaches all have a date they can put on the calendar and start planning accordingly.
One more thing: USATF did a good job picking February 3. It gives the athletes plenty of time to recover before the Olympic marathon in August. And, crucially, the date falls in the bye week between the AFC/NFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl, meaning it won’t be competing for attention with America’s biggest sporting event.
Quick Take: The course will be likely be flat but we don’t know how hot it will be as we don’t know when the race will be held
Unlike 2020, where the Olympic Trials were held on a hilly course ahead of a flat Olympic marathon, 2024 is likely to feature the opposite scenario: a relatively hilly Olympic marathon but a flat course for the Trials. The course hasn’t been announced yet but Orlando is not known for its hills.
Any US runners hoping to make the Paris Olympic team probably will want to have already hit the Olympic standard (which hasn’t been released yet) before the Trials or at least the slower “quota reallocation standard” (explained here) as the temperatures very likely could be on the warmer side – much like they are in the Olympics.
If the goal was to run as fast as possible, the race would start somewhere in the 6 – 8 a.m. range. But this is the US Olympic Trials, which means there are TV considerations. The last two Trials were broadcast nationally by NBC and as a result started much later than a typical big-city marathon. In 2016, the Trials in Los Angeles, the Trials started at 10:06 a.m. local time (men) and 10:22 (women), which is 1:06 and 1:22 p.m. ET. In 2020 in Atlanta, the Trials started at 12:08 p.m. local time (men) and 12:20 (women).
USATF said in its press release that TV details will be released at a later date. But if the Trials are on NBC once again (they hold the rights), we could see a start closer to noon. That would make it tough for anyone still looking to hit a standard as the weather typically gets much hotter in the afternoon in Orlando in February. The average temp on February 3 in Orlando over the last 11 years has been 69.6 degrees at noon and 72.5 by the finish.
Below, you will see detailed charts showing you the temperature, wind, and dew point for six different times of day in Orlando on February 3 dating back to 2012, plus projected August 11, 2024 data (date of women’s marathon). It’s worth noting the average temperature in Orlando on February 3 is very similar to what it is on August 11 in Paris. At 10 am, the temp is normally in the mid 60s and at 2 pm in the low 70s.
All past data and the projected August 11, 2024 data comes from DarkSky.
Temp (F) on February 3 in Orlando since 2012
|6 a.m.||8 a.m.||10 a.m.||12 p.m.||2 p.m.||4 p.m.|
|Proj. Paris August 11, 2024s||64||64||66||70||73||74|
Wind (mph) on February 3 in Orlando since 2012
|6 a.m.||8 a.m.||10 a.m.||12 p.m.||2 p.m.||4 p.m.|
|Proj. Paris August 11, 2024||5||6||6||7||8||8|
Dew point (F) on February 3 in Orlando since 2012
|6 am||8 am||10 am||12 pm||2 pm||4 pm|
|Avg Dew Point||50.6||51.9||55.6||55.5||54.3||53.3|
|Median Dew Point||54||55||61||60||59||59|
|Proj. Paris August 11, 2024||54||55||55||55||55||55|
Quick Take: We still need to know the Olympic standards
World Athletics has not announced the standards for the 2024 Olympics yet, but they are expected to be faster – perhaps significantly faster – than the standards for the 2020 Olympics (2:11:30/2:29:30). The standards for the marathon at the 2023 World Championships are 2:09:40/2:28:00 (times achieved by five American men and 11 American women so far in 2022) and the Olympic standards will likely be harder than that.
Could we see a scenario where someone who finishes in the top 3 in Orlando doesn’t make the team? We need to know more at this point – not just the standards, but how Americans react to chasing them in 2023 – but it’s certainly possible. World Athletics did create a loophole geared toward the US trials that would allow any country with three qualified athletes to sub out any or all of them as long as the substitute has run at least 2:11:30/2:29:30 during the qualifying window. (For more details on how it all works, we explain it here).
Anyone hoping to get in with that easier standard better hope they get it before race day, however. It was warm at the 2016 Trials in LA and only one man ran faster than 2:11:30 that day: Galen Rupp won the race in 2:11:13 with Meb Keflezighi second in 2:12:21 and Jared Ward third in 2:13:00. The temperature was 66 degrees at the start of that race; it could be even hotter in Orlando in 2024.
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