3 Thoughts About The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta

The Olympic Marathon Trails were held in Atlanta over the weekend and for me, this is my super bowl. I've spent years following these athletes on social media, watching their training, trials, and triumphs. I'm a super fan when it comes to running, and so getting to watch the trials was everything for me. I have a lot of random thoughts on things I noticed while watching the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, and thought I'd share them in a post so we can discuss if anyone else is a super fan like me. 

2020 olympic marathon trials course, olympic marathon trials 2020 date, 2020 marathon trials qualifiers, olympic trials marathon qualifiers, olympic trials marathon Atlanta, olympic marathon trials 2020 Atlanta, how to qualify for the US marathon trials. #running #marathon #olympics #training #workout #halfmarathon #5k #10k
Image Source

1. Controversial Nike Shoes. Nike recently released a new running shoe named, "The Alphafly". Loaded with tons of foam, a carbon plate, and a big enough heel drop that it's caused a lot of controversy. Nike has had two similar models before the Alphafly over the last few years (the Vaporfly 4% and the Vaporfly Next%), and people have broken lots of world records and personal bests while wearing these shoes. Some people believe the shoes give an unfair advantage and that they are a form of mechanical doping. 

It was amazing to see in the women's race that the first two finishers were wearing other shoe brands (the third place person was wearing the Alphaflys). First place finisher was wearing the Hoka Carbon X, while the other runner was wearing a new released Saucony Endorphin Pro. These shoes are also loaded with carbon fiber plates, but it was nice to see that 1) other shoe brands are catching on, and 2) Nike isn't the determining factor when it comes to running success. 

The mens race was won by three men in the controversial Nike shoes, so I don't really have many deep thoughts on that. 

2) Did pro runners drop their shoe sponsorships just to run in the Nike shoes? Many professional runners are sponsored by shoe brands. This is why so many other brands have rushed to make a carbon fiber racing shoe the last few months so that the playing field would be leveled a bit at the trials last weekend. Two runners I'm aware of in particular, Sarah Sellers who ran for Altra, and Allie Keiffer who ran for Asics, were both seen wearing the new Nike shoes on the marathon course. According to their instagram profiles neither one of them are affiliated with their shoe brands anymore and it makes me wonder if they did so just to wear the Nike shoes in the trials. This is of course just speculation, but it makes me wonder if it's gotten to the point where pro runners don't feel as though they can be successful without them. 

Clearly since the first and second place women were not in Nike's that's proof enough that it's not just down to shoes. 

3) People who are not natural born citizens running for team USA. There seems to be an interesting trend where people who are originally born in Africa come to college here in America, get citizenship somehow very quickly, and then run in our olympic trial races and run for our country in the olympics. It raises a few questions. 

1) Were these people not competitive enough to compete in their country so they came to our country where they'd have better odds of making an olympic team? 

2) Did these people really just come here for the greater opportunities we have here in general? 

3) Should olympic teams only be comprised of natural born citizens? I don't have a definitive opinion one way or the other, and Team USA isn't the only one experiencing this. Many people are moving to countries and gaining citizenship in a large variety of nations and then competing on their olympic teams. The African nations are historically stacked with amazing distance runners and so maybe these people really are just getting citizenship elsewhere to that they can make it to the olympics another way. 

This weekend at the trials two of the three men who will be representing Team USA, and two of the three women who will be representing Team USA are all originally from other African nations. To be clear, this isn't a question about race, it's simply a question stemming from, "Is this fair?" 

If you were at the trials and came in fourth place to two people who weren't originally from your country, would you feel like they unfairly took your spot at the olympics? It's a question I don't have an answer to, but would love to hear your opinions! 

All this being said, I am a huge fan of all of Team USA's athletes for the marathon this summer, and their personal stories really are nothing short of amazing. 

Did you watch the trials? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear it all in the comments below! 

Update: I forgot Jacob Riley came in and took second place for the mens team when I was originally writing this. That means there is only one Non-US born citizen on the mens team. And those who have gained citizenship actually took a lot longer to get citizenship than I previously thought. 

That original comment about, "very quickly" was in reference to Leonard Korir who became a US citizen by joining the Army in 2015, and ran in the trials this weekend. I forgot that he wound up not placing in the end when he was passed by Riley and Abdirahman. 

This is why I shouldn't write posts late at night, and why I should definitely fact check some more. But I love the conversation and would love to see it continue!

Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!


  1. Regarding item 3, I don't think anyone became a US citizen "very quickly." Sally Kipyego arrived for college in 2007 and gained citizenship in 2017 (10 years later). Aliphine Tuliamuk arrived in 2010, also for college, and gained citizenship in 2016 (6 years later). On the men's side, only one runner in the top 3 was foreign-born (not two, as you state). And Abdirahman came to the US as a teenager so he probably didn't have much say in the move. This is his fifth time representing the US at the Olympics.

    1. You're totally right! I forgot when I was writing this that Riley came in to take second place at the end. I was thinking for some reason that the two people in Army jerseys (Leonard Korir and Augustus Maiyo), were one of the top three finishers. The announcers mentioned that they gained citizenship through joining the army, (Korir in 2015, and Maiyo in 2009). I was aware that it was Abdirahman's fifth olympic games, but didn't know the circumstances of him coming to the states, and also didn't know the timeframe in which It took for the others to gain their citizenship. (I often forget that it's 2020... things that happen 10 years ago still seem like short timeframes in my mind!) But now that the citizenship issue is ruled out, is it still fair? It seems more fair now after understanding that these people have been in our country for a LONG time, but it does raise the issue that someone could just come to our country, join the military for citizenship, and then run the trials and get a place in the olympics in a very shortened timeframe. Maybe it doesn't apply to this particular instance as much as I thought, but it's still something that can be happening in our country and many other nations as well. (Again, I really don't have all the answers and clearly don't have all the research either, just posing thoughts and questions!)

  2. Thanks for the very interesting and informative article.

  3. Catching up on all your posts! I am ALL ABOUT the Olympics! I can't wait until summer. Thanks for all the background info!

    Happy day!