2020 Atlanta Diary: Course Adjustments Announced for 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon

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WomenLeadEarly-USOlyT16.jpgWomen's 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, photo by PhotoRun.net

MenEarly-USOlyT16.jpgMen's 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

Today, the Atlanta Track Club announced some changes on the 2020 Trials course, due, in part, to input from athletes in test event this past March 2020. The full release is published below.

Course Adjustments Announced for 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon

Changes Made to Accommodate Historic Number of Competitors

ATLANTA - August 29, 2019 -- With record participation expected and after receiving feedback from America's best marathoners and coaches, Atlanta Track Club and USATF announced adjustments to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon course today. The race organizers will replace a previously planned six-mile-loop with an eight-mile-loop which the athletes will run three times. This change will decrease the number of turns and reduce overall elevation gain on the course.

The updated course utilizes an additional mile of Peachtree Street in the heart of Atlanta. Competitors will begin their race in front of Centennial Olympic Park - the crown jewel of the 1996 Atlanta Games - and head down Marietta Street toward Peachtree. They will proceed three miles north on Peachtree until they pass the intersection of Peachtree and West Peachtree, then turn around and head back down Peachtree in the opposite direction, loop through Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward neighborhood and return to downtown. The runners will complete this loop nearly three times before diverting to a three mile final loop that runs under the Rings and Torch structure from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, goes by the Georgia Capitol building and passes by the sports stadiums that house the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United FC. They will then reach the welcome sight of the finish line inside Centennial Olympic Park.

Eliminated was a loop around the Margaret Mitchell House and onto 10th Street, which included four turns on narrow roads in the span of less than one tenth of a mile.

The changes to the course come after a test-race in March and several subsequent course tours with qualified athletes. These opportunities provided race organizers with real-time feedback, examples of potential bottlenecks related to overlap with a field of an estimated 600 qualified athletes. As of August 28, 341 women and 181 men have qualified for the Trials. By comparison, 246 women and 211 men qualified for the 2016 Trials in Los Angeles and 227 women and 160 men qualified for the 2012 Trials in Houston.

"We are excited by how many American distance runners qualified for the chance to chase their Olympic dreams here in Atlanta," said Rich Kenah, Executive Director of Atlanta Track Club which is serving as the Local Organizing Committee for the Trials. "Candidly, we did not anticipate a field this large when we designed the original course and we are adjusting accordingly. We listened to the athletes and will make some changes that we believe will be in their best interest on race day."

Athletes will have access to fluid stations every two miles along the course, with personal fluid stations for all competitors every fourth mile. A static map of the updated course is included in this release. An animated map can be found here. An updated elevation profile will be released soon.

"The changes are in keeping with integrity of the race," said Ed Eyestone, coach of 2016 Olympic Marathoner Jared Ward. "The first priority is safety and these changes show a respect for that with both the men's and women's races."

"This shows that Atlanta Track Club is trying to make a course that is athlete friendly and spectator friendly and leaving no stone unturned," said Ben Rosario, coach of Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite. "Having run the course, I'd say this change makes it better."

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon will be held in Atlanta on Saturday, February 29, 2020 as part of America's Marathon Weekend. The top three women and top three men will be selected to the team that will compete in Olympic Marathon in Tokyo next August. Spectators are invited to enjoy the race for free along the route. The race will also be broadcast nationally live on NBC.

You can follow the latest Trials news at atlanta2020trials.com and by following the hashtag #Atlanta2020 on social media.

About Atlanta Track Club

Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

With more than 30,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race (peachtreeroadrace.org) - the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Atlanta Marathon, PNC Atlanta 10 Miler and Invesco QQQ Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club's All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit atlantatrackclub.org.

About USA Track & Field

USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country's #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.

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