A look back at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta

While we may be in difficult and uncertain times right now, it can be helpful to look back at some positive experiences that happened not that long ago. And believe that we can return to those experiences in time. Recently our ElliptiGO team was in Atlanta for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials. Of the over 700 qualifiers, there were close to 100 ElliptiGO athletes competing, many of which were among the favorites to make the team. With some of the deepest fields our sport has ever seen, a record number of qualifiers, and probably the toughest course in Olympic Trials history, there was a tremendous build up to these races that would decide the first Track & Field Team USA qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics. The rest of the team roster was to be decided at the Track & Field Trials in Eugene, OR in late June. 

We now know that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that were set to occur in just a few months, will be postponed to the summer of 2021. Meaning there likely won’t be a US Track & Field Trials this year either. And maybe no official competitions at all this summer. It leaves our sport and the athletes in it with a lot of questions that will hopefully be addressed and answered in time.

Looking back to the Atlanta Trials experience, there was little if any fear or panic about the spread of coronavirus at that time. We were in large crowds, attending social gatherings, and enjoying the experiences with the thousands of supporters that love this sport. Social distancing was not in our vocabulary yet. ElliptiGO has continued to support athletes across our sport and we were very grateful to be able to celebrate the hard work that went into months and years of training for these athletes and teams.

As the races began on the 8 mile loop course, it was almost impossible to separate the individuals from the large packs that were forming. And as the race developed over the unrelenting hills, separation began. But it wasn’t until the later miles that we saw the real separation of the athletes that would finish in the top three and make the team. Among those athletes that made the Olympic team were ElliptiGO users Aliphine Tuliamuk (1st – 2:27:23) and Molly Seidel (2nd – 2:27:31). Both were well known athletes with highly decorated careers in the sport, but did not have the fastest PRs in the race and probably weren’t the favorites on paper. But that’s why they run the race. Both have suffered major injuries over the last couple years which have affected their training greatly. Not to mention that this was Molly’s first marathon ever (she qualified with a Half Marathon time).

Molly Seidel Riding an ElliptiGOMolly certainly isn’t the only athlete that has overcome adversity to find success. Including the one athlete that finished ahead of her that day. Ben Rosario, coach of Aliphine Tuliamuk and the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite team elaborated. “Aliphine, who won the Olympic Trials Marathon, has had a major injury each of the last two years, and both times she has used the ElliptiGO bike in her rehab, and as a supplementary tool as she eased back into running. I can remember many afternoons where I set up the trainer in my garage, along with some loud music, so Aliphine could power away and build fitness. Those are tough times for an athlete but they are all worth it on a day like February 29”. Rosario and the athletes on NAZ Elite are certainly doing something right, as they had 3 athletes in the top 8 that day. Aliphine was joined by training partners Stephanie Bruce (6th) and Kellyn Taylor (8th).

ElliptiGO has been proud to work with the majority of professional training groups across the Country and believe that it has helped athletes achieve greater success through higher volumes and intensities, and fewer injuries through an overall smarter training approach. After the race, Pete Rea, Head Coach of the On ZAP Endurance team spoke about the importance of the ElliptiGO product in their training approach. “ElliptiGO training has been instrumental to ZAP’s success in recent years. Before ElliptiGO, we’d supplement training to recover from tweaks in the pool or stationary bike. Now we have the ability to implement exercise which replicates the body’s normal running motion perfectly minus the impact. For the first time in our sport’s history, we have a device which allows runners to improve their running fitness even while not running”. The ZAP team had all 9 of their athletes qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials this year, led by Tyler Pennel in 11th place, who was one of the few athletes to run a lifetime Personal Best time (2:12:34), bettering his PB from 6 years earlier.

We want to congratulate all of the athletes that qualified for these Trials, especially the incredible athletes that we’ve been so fortunate to work with. As athletes look ahead to an uncertain Spring and Summer season, we want to continue showing our support for this community and nurture their  goals. Even if that goal is to just stay active. Many athletes are using this time to take care of nagging injuries and weaknesses that may not have been fully addressed in the past. Everyone can learn from this approach. Use this time for good; not only to help people in need, but also to take better care of yourself and arm yourself with the best health and strength that you can. We have a very supportive sport and community. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits and focusing on goals can certainly do us all some good, and keep us more positive and motivated.

For more information on ElliptiGO training for elite athletes and teams, visit our Athletics page. 

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