The Casual Fan's Five-Minute Guide to the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials -
7 min read
fairly easy
We preview Saturday's 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trails for the casual sports fan who doesn't know much about running. Enjoy.
By Jonathan Gault

February 27, 2020

If you're a regular to, you've probably been thinking about the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials since a few minutes after the 2016 Trials concluded. You've also probably read most of our pre-race coverage of the 2020 Trials, which will be held in Atlanta on Saturday (you can find it all here).

But quadrennially the Trials give the sport an opportunity to expand its reach beyond the LetsRun diehards (whom we love) and draw in the viewer running has long coveted: the casual sports fan. When an athlete makes the Olympic Trials, suddenly aunts, uncles, co-workers, friends – lots of people who've never paid attention to running – are very much into it. And with the Trials being shown live on NBC at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (the men go off at 12:08, the women at 12:20), this preview is for them.

If you're a casual fan: welcome! We're happy to have you, and hopefully after reading this article, you'll have a better idea of what's going on this weekend. And if you're a LetsRun regular, by all means keep reading. But also maybe tweet this article out, show it to your family or significant other, or email it to your friends. Because there aren't many better opportunities to convert new fans than the greatest of all American marathons: the US Olympic Trials.

Let's get started by hitting a few FAQs before getting into who you should be rooting for.

Why is this race so important?

It's the only race every four years where the best marathoners in the United States all show up and race each other on the same day. The top three automatically qualify to represent the US at this summer's Olympics in Tokyo (technically Sapporo, since that's where the marathons will be). It's cruelly, beautifully simplistic, and the battle for third always produces drama.

Where is it being held?

Atlanta. A big part of Atlanta's bid was channeling the Olympic legacy of the 1996 Games: the course begins and ends in Centennial Olympic Park and runs…
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