US olympic trials

2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials: Run Down

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Since 1896, the summer Olympics occur, every four years, in a different host country each time. At the first modern Olympics held in Athens, Greece, 14 countries partook in the games. This summer, when the Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 204 countries will be competing.

For each event at the Olympic Games, there are certain standards or marks that athletes have to achieve before being eligible to participate. In order to make sure that the Olympics feature the highest caliber athletes, each country is allowed to send just three people to represent their country (unless it is a team sport, such as basketball). Since the marathon is a long and grueling event, the Olympic Marathon Trials are held in February, many months before the XXI Olympiad. This is done to ensure proper recovery time for those who qualify to represent Team USA, as they will be racing another marathon this summer in Brazil.

Olympic Marathon Trials
Left to right: Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman, the three men who qualified for Team USA at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

When/Where/How to Watch

Los Angeles, Calif. on February 13, 2016

Start Times:
Men Start | 10:06 am
Women start | 10:22 am

Can’t make it to L.A.? Tune in to NBC or NBC Sports Live Extra, as live coverage begins at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST. This is the first time ever that the Olympic Trials Marathon will be aired live.

The Course

  • The course passes by popular locations in Los Angeles: Staples Center, USC campus, downtown L.A., Convention Center, Exposition Park and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Feel free to spectate near any of these marquee venues, as they’ll each make for a spectacular Instagram backdrop!
  • The race starts out with an initial 2.2-mile loop and then it turns into a spectator-friendly course, as the athletes run four six-mile loops. Similar to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston four years ago, the course is flat and fast, leading to faster finishing times. No matter where you stand on the course, the runners will pass by you four times, making marathon spectating super easy!
  • Typically when spectating a marathon, the runners only pass you once. This course was structured with the purpose of creating a better experience for the fans. The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are held every four years in a different U.S. city (Houston in 2012 and New York City in 2008), meaning this is a historic event that you won’t want to miss. Another perk about being a fan in L.A. is that it’s free of charge to watch the race!

Fast Facts

  • 179 men have qualified to race.
  • 216 women have qualified to race.
    • 19 women qualified at the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
  • Runners from 41 states and Washington, D.C., have qualified to race.
  • The list of all athletes who are entered to race can be found here.

Qualifications Broken Down

In order to be eligible to compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, athletes need to “qualify.” In order to qualify, they must run an event to the standards below during the window of August 1, 2013 and January 17, 2016. Runners are allowed to qualify to run in the Trials as long as they at least run the “B” standard or faster.


Half Marathon


Half Marathon


*According to USATF’s (USA Track & Field) Official Athlete Manual for the Olympic Trials Marathon, men who have hit the “A” qualifying standard of 2:15:00 or faster for the marathon or women who have run 2:37:00 or faster are eligible for a “hospitality package” that includes reimbursement for travel and transportation to and within Los Angeles, along with accommodations and meals for three days and nights. “B” standard qualifiers — men who have run between 2:15:01 and 2:19:00 for the marathon or 1:05:00 or faster for the half marathon, and women who have run between 2:37:01 to 2:45:00 for the marathon or 1:15:00 or faster for the half marathon — are eligible to enter the 2016 Olympic Team Trials but do not receive reimbursement for travel, lodging or meals.

How do you make the Olympic team?

  • At the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (held on February 13), the top three male and female finishers qualify to run in the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team USA.
  • For the top 10 finishers, there is a $600,000 prize purse up for grabs, which is split evenly between genders. The prize purse is broken down below:

US Olympic Marathon Trials

Seasoned Competitors

  • Meb Keflezighi is looking to be only the second man to win back-to-back Olympic Trials Marathons as well as looking to make the Olympic Team for the fourth time, at the age of 40. Meb has raced numerous Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series events over the years. He’s won the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon three times each, as well as the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in the marathon. Get the inside scoop on Meb’s training as he finishes his last days at altitude in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

  • Deena Kastor, also past the 40-year mark (turns 43 the day after the race), is looking to make her fourth USA Olympic Team. Deena is the American record-holder in the marathon (2:19:36) and the bronze medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 26.2-mile distance. She has also won half marathons at Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia, Arizona, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, Dallas, San Jose and the Carlsbad 5000.
      • UPDATE: As of 10:02 a.m., February 10, Deena has unfortunately withdrew from the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, due to injury.

deena kastor
An ecstatic Kastor, crossing the line at the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, setting a Masters Half Marathon World Record. Deena ran 69:36, bettering the record by 20 seconds.