ATLANTA — Galen Rupp, one of America’s most accomplished long-distance runners and a bronze medalist at the Rio Games in 2016, qualified for his fourth Olympic Games by winning the U.S. marathon trials on Saturday.
Aliphine Tuliamuk won the women’s marathon in 2:27:23 and will be joined in Tokyo by Molly Seidel and Sally Kipyego.
On a cold day with winds gusting near 20 miles per hour, the 33-year old Rupp took the lead near the 16-mile mark and finished the course around downtown Atlanta in 2:09:20 to win the trials for a second consecutive time.
The battle for the final two spots was engaged with about three miles to go as Jake Riley began to significantly gather ground on a pack of runners including Olympians Abdi Abdirahman and Leonard Korir.
Riley made up more than a minute over the final few miles, eventually holding on for second place. Abdirahman, 43, will become the oldest U.S. male marathoner in the Olympics after taking third place and the final spot on the American team, holding off a final surge from Korir. Abdirahman wasn’t able to participate in the 2016 trials due to a calf injury but competed in the 10,000-meter race in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He finished ninth at the New York City Marathon last year.
Rupp, if healthy, was a heavy favorite to make the U.S. team. Though there was some uncertainty about his readiness, having gone through Achilles surgery in October 2018 and dropping out near the end of the Chicago Marathon last fall with a calf injury, Rupp looked strong as he pulled away from the field. His final margin of victory was 42.50 seconds.
Rupp, who resides in Portland, won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in the 10,000 meters, becoming the first American to medal in that event since 1964. His bronze in the 2016 marathon was the first American medal since Meb Keflezighi won silver in 2004.
The early part of the race belonged to Brian Shrader, who had broken away from the pack with a 31.51-second lead at the halfway mark. But Rupp started closing the gap at the 15-mile mark and easily took the lead as Shrader faded and ultimately dropped out of the race.