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Gwen Jorgensen, Olympic triathlon champion, sets second marathon

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Gwen Jorgensen, the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion, will race her second marathon in Chicago on Oct. 7 as she prepares to bid for Tokyo 2020 on the road.

Jorgensen, 32, joins a Chicago Marathon field that includes Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history, and world bronze medalist Amy Cragg.

Jorgensen made her marathon debut in New York City on Nov. 6, 2016, two and a half months after winning the Rio Olympic triathlon.

The former University of Wisconsin runner was 14th in 2 hours, 41 minutes, 1 second, more than 16 minutes behind the winner, on limited marathon training.

She said this Chicago Marathon will be her first “real marathon,” according to Runner’s World.

In 2017, Jorgensen gave birth to son Stanley Lemieux and announced her move from triathlon to road running with an ultimate goal of marathon gold in Tokyo.

She returned to racing Feb. 10 and was seventh in the 10,000m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships on June 21.

To make the Tokyo Olympic team, Jorgensen must finish in the top three at the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020 in Atlanta.

It might be the most difficult U.S. Olympic marathon team to make of all time. The field should include not only Hasay and Cragg, but also possibly Shalane Flanagan and Des Linden, who won the most recent New York City and Boston Marathons, and 10,000m American record holder Molly Huddle.

“I believe I can still do it, and I remind myself of what I was like in my first triathlon year,” Jorgensen, who transitioned from an Ernst & Young accountant to become a pro triathlete in 2010 and 2011, said, according to SI.com. “The second year, I was at the [2012] Olympics.”

The Chicago Marathon men’s field is headlined by four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah and defending champion and double U.S. Olympic medalist Galen Rupp.

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Bernard Lagat sets marathon debut

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Bernard Lagat, a five-time Olympian who in Rio became the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history, will make his marathon debut in New York on Nov. 4.

“A few years ago, I was able to watch the TCS New York City Marathon from one of the lead vehicles, and I knew that when I ran a marathon someday, I wanted it to be in New York,” the 43-year-old Lagat said, according to a press release.

Lagat retired from track racing after placing fifth in the Rio Olympic 5000m, where he was briefly a bronze medalist before two disqualifications were overturned. Lagat previously earned Olympic 1500m silver and bronze competing for Kenya in 2000 and 2004.

If Lagat continues racing marathons through 2020, he could try to tie Angolan João N’Tyamba‘s record for Olympic participations by a male runner at six and become the fourth-oldest Olympic male runner.

“My mind isn’t going that far yet,” Lagat said, according to SI.com. “I’m just going to take this one at a time. My training partners have asked me, ‘If you are successful in New York, will you run the marathon for 2020?’ and I say, ‘I don’t know.’

“I want to get ready for New York City first, and whatever happens there will determine 2020.”

Lagat finished 31st in the world half marathon championships on March 24.

Lagat joins a New York field that includes defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman.

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Molly Huddle returns to New York City Marathon with pie-in-the-sky dream

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Molly Huddle was scared going into her first marathon in New York City in 2016, two months removed from the Rio Olympics.

“That I wasn’t ready enough,” she said last week. “My coach wasn’t sure how I’d handle the marathon, and I may have to go back to the track.”

Huddle, a two-time Olympic track runner and American record holder at 10,000m, crossed the Central Park finish line in third place two years ago.

It was a landmark result for not just Huddle, but any American. She became the first U.S. runner of either gender to make the New York City podium in six years.

Much has changed for U.S. women’s marathon running since that day. For Huddle, the difference is in mindset.

Huddle will race the New York City Marathon for the second time on Nov. 4, joining a field that includes 2017 New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden.

“Hopefully try and finish higher than I did before,” Huddle said. “I could go somewhere and try and run a PR, and I choose to come back to New York because, to me, that’s kind of the ultimate, pie-in-the-sky dream would be to win the New York marathon. All of my eggs are in that basket.”

Huddle did go back to the track in 2017, as planned, to race the world championships in London. The native of Elmira, N.Y., expects to enter at least one marathon per year from here through the Tokyo Olympics.

She can take motivation from Flanagan and Linden’s breakthrough victories.

Flanagan won her first marathon in New York in 2017, at age 36 in her 10th overall marathon. Linden won her first marathon in Boston on April 16, at age 34 in her 16th marathon.

Huddle is younger than both (turns 34 on Aug. 31) with much more to learn, having raced just two marathons so far.

“I would love it to be my turn,” Huddle said in reference to Flanagan’s prophetic tweet to Linden last November. “I don’t know if I’ve paid my dues yet in the marathon. I came to it late in my career, so I don’t have a lot of time to make mistakes.”

Or time for calamities like Huddle’s second marathon back in April.

It was arguably the worst weather in the Boston Marathon’s 122 editions — high 30 degrees at the Hopkinton start, 20 mile-per-hour headwinds and a downpour throughout.

Huddle slogged through it in 16th place, getting passed by elite men who started 28 minutes later.

She finished in 2 hours, 50 minutes (22 minutes slower than her New York City debut). Huddle said she wasn’t thinking clearly for the last three miles and didn’t feel normal again until an hour after the race.

“I was really confused. I couldn’t find the drinks table,” Huddle said. “They were asking me questions at the finish line, and I couldn’t answer them. Everything felt slow. I was frozen.”

It was a shame because Huddle felt fitter and more confident going into Boston than she had on an abbreviated buildup to her first marathon in New York City in 2016.

She broke the American record in the half marathon in January. She had not been beaten by another American in a road race since 2012.

“I could have not trained one step and run faster than [2:50],” in normal weather, said Huddle, who scheduled a root canal for the day after Boston.

Huddle raced a very abbreviated track season this summer, picking up her 27th national title between the track and road in the 10,000m in Des Moines on June 21.

She felt tired after and is seeing a chiropractor and physical therapist to get ready for her third marathon build-up.

Huddle has vivid memories of her New York debut two years ago.

She came off the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16 and saw a group wearing Saucony clothes (Huddle’s sponsor). Their cheers had to be for Huddle, because she was alone for more than half the race after dropping back off the early leaders’ pace.

“It felt like I was time-trialing 15 miles to the finish line,” Huddle said. “I would love to get into a marathon where I’m racing head to head.”

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