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Upon United States Track and Field (USATF) announcing that the 2024 Paris Olympic Marathon Trials will take place at noon in Orlando, Florida, there has been some initial pushback.
The primary concern is over temperatures and the mid-day sun. While it is possible that the temperature could be high and the sky cloudless, it is more likely that the temperatures will be similar to those in Paris in mid-August.
See you all at 12pm at the USATF Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, FL on Saturday February 3rd.— Lee Troop 🇦🇺 (@runtroopy) August 1, 2023
It’ll be warm, it’ll be humid, there will be carnage & there will be drama, BUT 3 men & 3 women WILL BE going to the Paris 2024 Olympics!
Time to get to work!
The average daily high in Orlando on February 3 — when the marathon is scheduled to happen — is 22-23 Celsius or 71-74 Farenheight. The low is usually 10-11C or 50-52F. A noon start should be in between the two, but closer to the daily average high. The mean daily temperature at this time of year is 16-17C or 60-63F. Not perfect marathon running weather, but certainly not extreme. For example, Sapporo’s 34C or 95F (high) during the Tokyo Olympic Games or Doha’s temperatures for the 2019 World Athletics Championships, where scores of athletes dropped out.
American ultramarathon runner Camille Herron posted on social media that there are no excuses, athletes have seven months in which to prepare for the Orlando-based trials.
We’re 7 months out from the Olympic Marathon Trials. No excuses to not be prepared for a potentially hot day in Florida 👊.— Camille Herron 🦸♀️ (@runcamille) August 1, 2023
When I trained for the 50km World Champs in Doha, I trained every day at lunch w/ layers, treadmill w/ layers, & bottle tucked in shorts whole race. https://t.co/xBdKbcBBoM
Paris could be warmer
The daily mean in Paris in August is 20C or 69F, with lows of 16C or 60F and highs of 25C or 78F. Paris had a record high of 39.5C or 103F during the 2000s.
At any rate, it is likely that if the forecasts in advance of either race are unsafe, organisers will be forced to change the start times.
What should be a bigger concern is the differences between the two courses. Some athletes race better in varying situations. As Orlando is flat, it will suit some, and Paris is undulating, which will serve others. If there should be concerns with Orlando as a venue, athletes should wonder why the USATF did not choose a hillier route.
Be that as it may, coaches typically choose workouts to replicate what is expected during a race closer to it happening. Some of that concern may be ameliorated. For example, Trent Stellingwerff mapped out a workout pre-Budapest that Canadian record holder Natasha Wodak ran. The hills were similar to those in the Hungarian city.
Qualifying standards for Trials and Olympics
The qualifying standards for the US Olympic Marathon Trials are 2:37:00 for women and 2:18:00 for men. There are also standards if a marathon time has not been achieved within the qualifying window. Athletes who have run 72:00 or 63:00 in the half-marathon may toe the line too.
The USATF will take the first three American male and female athletes to cross the line. However, the qualifying standards for the Paris Olympic Games are published as 2:26:50 and 2:08:10, respectively. Athletes who are top three in their country and are ranked top 80 globally, may qualify outside of the published standards. Additionally, World Athletics reserves the right to invite athletes in certain situations.