USATF is setting tougher standards for the 2016 Olympic marathon qualifier to “raise the bar” and make the U.S. more competitive going forward.
The men will see the qualifying time drop only by a minute, from 2:19 in 2012 to 2:18 for the Rio Games. However, the women will have to increase their pace over the 26.2 miles course by a full three minutes after seeing their time drop from 2:46 to 2:43.
USATF is also bringing back the A and B qualifying classes for men after abandoning them in 2012.
To earn an A standard and have their expenses for Trials covered by USATF, the boys will need to finish under 2:15. For women, the A standard has been lowered slightly to 2:37, down from 2:39 for the London Olympics.
“The main thing in revising the standards is to continue to raise the bar,” Jim Estes, director of events for USATF, told Runners World Newswire. “That seems to have worked if you look at 2012 compared to 2008 – the numbers were higher, both overall and as far as the number of A qualifiers.”
Hopefully more difficult standards will improve Team USA’s chances of bringing home its first marathon gold since Joan Benoit in 1984, or at the very least keep our runners on the course for the entire race.