Scott Fauble Says “It Will Take Under 2:08:10 to Make the Team” at 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials

It took 2:10:03 to make it at the 2020 Trials in Atlanta

ORLANDO, Fla. — In the 13 months since the qualifying system for the 2024 Olympics in Paris was revealed, athletes, coaches, agents, and media, have tried to determine how it will all play out. Fans of American distance running have been particularly focused on the men’s marathon. World Athletics set the automatic qualifying standard in that event at 2:08:10 — a mark that only six Americans had ever run at the time. Would three Americans be able to run that fast during the Olympic qualifying window?

So far, only two men have: Conner Mantz (2:07:47) and Clayton Young (2:08:10). The standard was never meant to be the be-all, end-all, however. World Athletics inserted a provision that the top 64 men on its Road to Paris list as of January 30 would earn spots for their country at the 2024 Olympics. That date was assumed to be a carve-out to create certainty for the US Olympic Marathon Trials, which will take place tomorrow on February 3 in Orlando.

The Road to Paris list was intended to include a combination of auto standards and world rankings, but more men ran fast than expected. In the end, only one of the first 64 spots in the field was awarded by ranking. The rest went to athletes who had hit the 2:08:10 standard.

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While the US is well-positioned to earn a third spot when the final 16 spots are awarded on May 5, as of now only the top two finishers at the Trials are guaranteed an Olympic berth (as long as they have run 2:11:30 within the qualifying window). That uncertainty has benefited no one in the US distance running world. One of the great appeals of the US Olympic Marathon Trials are their simplicity — that the top three make the team and fourth place goes home devastated. Now fans are left with the unsatisfactory possibility of having to wait until May for that third spot to be confirmed.

There is one way to cut through the drama. The US can earn a third Olympic spot if someone other than Mantz or Young runs the 2:08:10 standard during Saturday’s race. And Scott Fauble — who is currently the #3 American on the Road to Paris list at 69th overall — said at Friday’s pre-race press conference that he fully expects that to happen.

I think tomorrow it will take under 2:08:10 to make the team,” Fauble said. “I think people have prepared well enough, and if you look at the Trials in 2020, it took a pretty fast time on that course. That was a hard course and it still took 2:09, 2:10. I think US distance running has improved since then and I think that there will be a big enough mass of guys up front that it’s going to be a fast race.”

Fauble is among the favorites to make the Olympic team in Orlando (Kevin Morris photo)

On a hilly course on a windy day at the 2020 Trials in Atlanta, it took 2:10:03 to make the team. It is not hard to imagine the Orlando course running 90 seconds to two minutes faster under ideal conditions. But it will be warm and sunny on race day, with a temperature around 58 degrees at the 10:10 a.m. ET start rising to 67 by the finish. The main eight-mile loop, which athletes will run three times, does not offer much shade.

But Fauble, who journeyed to Nike’s world headquarters in Oregon ahead of the race to help plan his heat strategy, said athletes have been well aware of the potential for warm conditions in Orlando.

“The weather is not bad enough to slow people down and I think everyone should have prepared for it,” Fauble said. “Enough people will have prepared well enough for it where it will figure itself out.”

It has been 24 years since the US failed to send the maximum of three men’s marathoners to the Olympics — Rod DeHaven, winner of the 2000 Trials, was the only American man to run in Sydney. With a target field size of just 80 athletes, the 2024 Olympic marathon will be the smallest since 1980 in Moscow, when 66 countries boycotted the Games. But Fauble is confident that when the gun is fired in Paris on August 10, three Americans will be on the start line.

“You guys need stuff to write about and so you guys like to hand-wring about who makes the team and how do you do it and what the process is,” Fauble said. “It’s pretty rare for the US not to send three people in most, if not every event.”

We chatted with Fauble for five minutes after the press conference on Friday where he talked about his buildup, overhauling his fueling strategy, how his mindset has changed since the 2020 Trials (where he finished 12th) and what making the Olympic team (or not making it) would mean to him.

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