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 photo by Kevin Morris

(USATF) - ORLANDO — Making her marathon debut a record-breaking one, 25-year-old Fiona O'Keeffe stunned the running world with her 2:22:10 win at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon Saturday morning. O'Keeffe, whose only previous national title was a USATF 10 Mile Championships win in 2022, pulled away from a deep pack of superb American women after 18 miles to claim the ultimate crown in U.S. marathoning and become the youngest-ever winner of the women's Trials. PLUS image galley

Training partners and former BYU teammates Conner Mantz and Clayton Young dominated the closing stages of the men's race, with Mantz taking top honors by one second in 2:09:05, the second-fastest time in men's Trials history. Young's 2:09:06 was the third fastest ever at the Trials.
 
Qualified for the Trials by virtue of her 69:34 half marathon at Raleigh in December, O'Keeffe was a mystery factor coming into the Trials, with her coach very high on her prospects. Though she had never raced longer than 13.1 miles on the road before, the Stanford grad looked like a seasoned veteran as she paced herself perfectly to beat American record holder Emily Sisson, who earned silver in 2:22:42. Minnesotan Dakotah Lindwurm, who was a walk-on at NCAA Division II Northern State University, grabbed the final Paris ticket with a 2:25:31 in third.
 
After Mantz and Young broke away from their challengers for the final time with just over two miles to go, the battle for third was compelling. Zach Panning had made much of the early running and was at the front through 23 miles before the pace took its toll and he started to drop back. Four-time World Championships marathon veteran Elkanah Kibet was the first man to catch Panning, taking over third between miles 25 and 26, but he couldn't hold off Army teammate Leonard Korir, who sped past him in the last 400 meters to take third in 2:09:57. Korir was a heartbreaking fourth at Atlanta in the 2020 Trials, relegating Kibet to the same position today. Kibet’s fourth place time of 2:10:02 bettered Abdi Abdirahman’s existing Masters American record of 2:10:03.
 
The deepest quality field in women's Trials history featured the current and former American record holders in the shape of Sisson and Keira D'Amato, and those two were among the large lead pack from the gun as runners covered the initial two-mile loop in downtown Orlando. Joined by Sara Hall, the fourth fastest American ever, the lead crew had more than a dozen women in tow over the next eight-mile loop. By the halfway mark in 1:11:43, there were still 12 women in contention with a span of six seconds between first and 12th.
 
D'Amato, who set an AR of 2:19:22 at Houston in 2022, slipped back by mile 17 and then dropped out after 20, as O'Keeffe stamped herself as the woman to beat by taking a five-second lead on Sisson, Hall, and Betsy Saina at 19 miles. O'Keeffe stretched that lead to 10 seconds over Sisson during the next mile and the contest for third was on. Caroline Rotich came into the picture to take third at mile 21, a few strides ahead of Lindwurm, with Saina, Emily Durgin and Hall trying to hold on.
 
Saina, the eighth-fastest American ever, dropped out at mile 22 and it was left to Lindwurm and Rotich as they had a nine-second edge on Hall. The duo stayed in close proximity for two more miles before Lindwurm built an 11-second margin at the 25-mile mark and finished strongly for bronze. O'Keeffe clicked off a 5:09 mile between 24 and 25 and looked supremely confident, sealing her victory with a solid 5:22 mile before her celebratory stride to the finish in front of a very appreciative crowd. Jessica McClain, who wasn't in the top 30 on the qualifying times list coming in, shattered her PB with a 2:25:46 in fourth. Hall set an American masters record with her 2:26:06 in fifth.
 
Mantz and Young, the only two men who had achieved the Paris automatic qualifying standard coming into the race, were never in trouble apart from a dropped water bottle by Mantz at the first hydration station, staying in the lead pack throughout. Rio 2016 bronze medalist Galen Rupp, the 2020 Trials winner, was in the group of more than 20 men that was covered by a five-second blanket after six miles, and by the half marathon point there were eight men within one second at 64:07 as Panning and Teshome Mekonen were leading.
 
Panning continued to make the pace over the next four miles, stalked by Young and Mantz, with Mekonen and a few others hanging on. At the 20-mile mark, Panning was leading Mantz and Young as the trio broke away from the rest of the field, and the two BYU grads slapped hands as the long march for home began in earnest. Panning soon began to feel the effects of the early pace and struggled to stay with Mantz and Young. He was gamely fighting to stay in podium position until he started to lose more ground after 24 miles, dropping 43 seconds back with just over a mile to go.
 
Kibet, a 40-year-old with vast marathon experience, started to advance on Panning, while Korir had 14 seconds to make up on Kibet. Korir ultimately got the best of Kibet, who was fourth in 2:10:02, smiling and showing great joy in taking bronze, and CJ Albertson came roaring home over the final mile to take fifth in 2:10:07. Panning was sixth in 2:10:50.

WOMEN'S TOP 10

  1. Fiona O'Keeffe (Puma) 2:22:10 (Trials record, old record 2:25:38 by Shalane Flanagan in 2012)
  2. Emily Sisson (New Balance) 2:22:42
  3. Dakotah Lindwurm (Puma/Minnesota Distance Elite) 2:25:31
  4. Jessica McClain (unattached) 2:25:46
  5. Sara Hall (Asics) 2:26:06
  6. Caroline Rotich (Asics) 2:26:10
  7. Makenna Myler (Asics) 2:26:14
  8. Lindsay Flanagan (Asics) 2:26:25
  9. Emily Durgin (adidas) 2:27:56
  10. Annie Frisbie (Puma/Minnesota Distance Elite) 2:27:56

MEN'S TOP 10

  1. Conner Mantz (Nike) 2:09:05
  2. Clayton Young (Asics/Run Elite Program) 2:09:06
  3. Leonard Korir (Nike/U.S. Army WCAP) 2:09:57
  4. Elkanah Kibet (Asics) 2:10:02
  5. CJ Albertson (Brooks) 2:10:07
  6. Zach Panning (Hansons-Brooks Distance Project) 2:10:50
  7. Nathan Martin (McKirdy Trained) 2:11:00
  8. Josh Izewski (ZAP Endurance) 2:11:09
  9. Reed Fischer (Tinman Elite) 2:11:34
  10. Colin Bennie (Brooks) 2:12:17

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