(26-Feb) -- Dozens of American men and women who hope to run the 2020 Olympic Marathon in Tokyo will test the USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon course in Atlanta this Saturday at the special Road to Gold road race. The race, which will use eight miles of the 26.2-mile Trials course, was set up by the Atlanta Track Club to allow athletes to collect real-time reconnaissance in a race situation almost exactly one year before the Trials which are scheduled for Saturday, February 29, 2020.
PHOTO: Amy Cragg wins the 2016 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon in Los Angeles (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"I have been visualizing racing the 2020 Olympic Trials since the moment I crossed the finish line in Rio," said reigning Olympic Trials Marathon champion Amy Cragg of the Nike Bowerman Track Club. "I am thrilled to be able to experience the course in Atlanta, so I can add the sights, sounds, and feel of the city into my constant daydream as I prepare to take on America's best marathoners next year."
Cragg is just one of 18 women who have qualified for the Trials who plan to race in Atlanta on Saturday. Her 2:21:41 from the 2018 Tokyo Marathon makes her the second-fastest qualifier behind Jordan Hasay of the Nike Oregon Project. Other qualified women who will race in Atlanta include Allie Kieffer (2:28:12 qualifying time), Bridget Belyeu (2:30:59), Carrie Dimoff (2:31:12), Kaitlin Goodman (2:32:08), Danna Herrick (2:32:19), Taylor Ward (2:32:42) and Sydney Devore (2:32:43). Emily Sisson, who will make her marathon debut in London on April 28, will also be competing. She has qualified for the Trials through the half-marathon standard.
On the men's side, Jared Ward (Saucony) is the top entrant, a 2016 Olympian like Cragg. Ward, who was the top American at the TCS New York City Marathon last November, has a Trials qualifying time of 2:12:24.
"I am excited to see how the course feels and to see what kind of elevation change I need to be ready for when I come back in 2020," Ward said through a statement. "After the race we'll sort out some tempo and long runs in Utah that mimic the course.”
Other men set to compete are three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein of Hansons Brooks --who is running the Boston Marathon in April and who has qualified for the Trials through the half-marathon standard-- Tyler McCandless (2:12:28 qualifying time), Brogan Austin (2:12:38), Chris Derrick (2:12:50), and Shadrack Biwott (2:12:52).
"We're excited to welcome runners and walkers chasing their personal roads to gold," said Atlanta Track Club executive director Rich Kenah, who is also the race director. "Whether you will be chasing your Olympic dreams here in 2020 or chasing a new personal best, this race is an opportunity for participants of all ages and abilities to experience Running City USA at its best."
The race will start Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive, and the finish on Andrew Young International Drive adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park. The race is open for entry to anyone; full entry information is here:.
RESOURCE: Road to Gold Course Map.