People who run marathons find themselves chasing down a dream: the dream of finishing, of qualifying for Boston, of running a sub-3, and for a very select few, of qualifying for the Olympic Trials (otherwise known as running an OTQ). For the latter, achieving that dream has become harder than ever.
At its annual meeting last December, USA Track & Field announced new qualifying standards for the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials, with men needing to run a sub-2:18 marathon—a minute faster than the requirement for the 2020 Trials. For women, the difference was even starker: They had to run a sub-2:37 marathon, or eight minutes faster than the 2:45 time required in 2020.
The consequences of the new OTQ standard will potentially result in a much smaller field: of the 511 women who qualified for the 2020 Trials, just 83 had a marathon time that would have met the 2:37 standard to give them the opportunity to toe the line at the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials. Seventy-six fewer men would have OTQ-ed in 2020, according to the new standard.
And yet, we know people will strive for this dream. Enter the Bandit OTQ Program. Want to know more? We asked our head of Community Steve Finley some questions about the program.
Hey Steve, what is the Bandit OTQ Program?
The Bandit OTQ Program is a support system for runners with ties to NYC that are pursuing a OTQ over the next 18 months. The goal is to bring together a community of runners that are going through a shared experience while supporting them in their pursuit.
Additionally, Bandit as a brand wants to amplify these individuals because they have such amazing, relatable stories. Parents, copywriters, nurses, physical therapists - all these “normal” people who also happen to be extremely ambitious and disciplined with their athletic goal-setting. We love the professional side of the sport, but there’s just something special about people that grind out their miles among a pile of other life responsibilities.
What makes you excited about this group of athletes?
Training at any level is difficult. I'm excited about this group because they are taking on and mixing it up with professional athletes. Each of the Bandit OTQ athletes has a full time job, family & social obligations, lives in or has a deep connection to NYC and somehow still finds time to train and support their teammates and fellow athletes.
These men and women are leaders in performance, sure, but also in many other ways. Being able to support them on their journey in representing not only themselves, their clubs and this program at home and internationally, but also representing New Yorkers in general - they're not afraid to work their asses off and mix it up with anyone, anywhere.
How does the competition stack up?
Marathoning, and American Marathoning, is extraordinarily deep right now. We’re seeing World Records and National Records fall annually, which is extremely exciting for the sport of running. With the Bandit OTQ Program, these athletes will not be competing to win any of the major marathons immediately, but they are some of the fastest runners within their communities.
What makes marathoning in 2022 special for elite athletes?
2022 is the start of the qualification window for the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials, the top American marathoners who are competing this fall will be looking to punch their ticket to the 2024 Trials to get ahead of it for next year.
American men will be chasing a sub 2:18:00 marathon performance, 5:16 pace per mile, while the women will be looking to dip under a 2:37:00 marathon, 5:59 pace per mile. With speeds like that it’s no wonder why many are targeting the world record Berlin Marathon course and the typically fast Chicago Marathon, while others will look to marathons with large packs of runners chasing fast times like December’s California International Marathon or January’s Houston Marathon. No matter the day, weather or course, the time standards hold as firm reminders that the only way to qualify is to earn it.
(Current)* Full Roster & Race Details:
- Brendan Martin - Berlin
- Erin Gregorie - Berlin
- Lily Anderson - Berlin
- Jeanne Mack - Berlin
- Gabrielle Yatauro - Chicago
- Grace Keller - California International Marathon
- Ana Johnson - California International Marathon
- Jenny Grimshaw - California International Marathon
- Rolanda Bell - 3K Steeplechase
- Erin Jaskot - 5K
*More athletes to be announced.