The Olympic Trials Marathon is set for February 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. Today — about two months before the race — the USATF announced the “B” standard for the trials will be slower than previously declared.
The B Standard is now 2:19 for men and 2:45 for women, a minute slower for men and 2 minutes slower for women.
The change comes after the IAAF announced yesterday they had changed the entry standards for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, making it easier to qualify in 17 track and field events (plus the marathon and race walk, which aren’t quite track, I guess).
Before the change, 195 women had qualified for the Trials, with 154 of them meeting the B standard. On the men’s side, 170 qualified and only 27 have the A standard.
(If you’re unfamiliar — you can compete for a spot on the team with the B standard, but you can’t compete in the Olympics without the A standard. In the U.S. marathon trials, it is unlikely someone with just the B standard will finish in the top 3 and qualify for a spot on the team. It does, however, happen in track events sometimes — leading to some last-minute attempts at the A standard. But in the marathon, the men’s standards are 3 minutes apart and 6 on the women’s side — pretty big differences.)
First, congrats to the runners who can now book their trip to LA! I’m excited to see how many more runners can get in.
My thought is that a marathon with more people is going to be more interesting and draw more attention, so for the trials it’s nice to have a decent-sized field. You can’t go to the Olympics on the B standard anyway, and the talent pool is deep enough you’d need to run the A standard to make the team.
A softer B standard lets more American dream the big dream — hitting the OTQ.
A friend of mine also noted that a softer B standard also “reflects the broader spirit of the marathon” and is a “throw back to the original marathoners who were just regular people.”
The change prompted me to Tweet back at USATF with two questions: Will the B standard stay this way for 2020 (pending other IAAF changes, of course, but is this a permanent change or just for Rio)? And, when does the 2020 qualifying window open?
Update: they tweeted back pretty quickly and said that info won’t be available for a while. And they actually read this blog!
My time at Indy Monumental — while certainly not an elite time — is 25 minutes slower than the standard. That’s a minute per mile, thereabouts. A minute sounds like not very much and completely impossible at the same time.
And while this post is primarily about the marathon trials, which are right around the corner, I should note a number of other events also have adjusted times. Leo Manzano now has the A standard as a result of the changes.