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Metaphorically speaking, the road to hell was paved with good intentions. Lest we forget the road to heaven is paved with good actions.

Privileges are the few, as the Paris Olympic Games will accept just 80 male and 80 female marathon runners to toe the line at next summer’s Games in the city of light.

World Athletics has published the current list of athletes who are in the running to toe the line next August. The qualification window started on November 6, 2022, and will end on May 5, 2024. (If May 5th sounds familiar, it’s Cinco de Mayo as well as Independence Day for Holland). During that time, athletes have an opportunity to run at least as fast as the qualification standard or be ranked globally with those top 80 spots.

The standards are tough at 2:08:10 for men and 2:26:50 for women. Up to three per country in each gender may be nominated to their country’s respective teams.

As autumn and spring are busy marathon periods, the list may change dramatically during these two seasons. Marathons to watch this fall are Frankfurt, Valencia, New York, and Amsterdam. Also of interest will be Fukuoka in December, Houston in January followed, by Tokyo, Prague, Milan, and London among others. The recent Toronto, Chicago and Berlin marathons may end up having repercussions when all is said and done.

The men

The men’s number one ranked of course is Kelvin Kiptum of Kenya with his world record performance of 2:00:35 from the 2023 Chicago Marathon on October 8. Fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge is ranked number two at 2:02:42 from the Berlin Marathon on September 24. Number three is Tanzanian Gabriel Gerald Geay from his Valencia performance of 2:03:00. Interesting implications are afoot. While top athletes have been avoiding each other so as to collect as much of the appearance and prize money as possible, Kipchoge is the two-time defending Olympic champion. If Kiptum wants to be king for longer than a day, he needs an Olympic gold medal. Will they face off?

Currently, for those who have run 2:08:10 or faster, 50 are from Kenya, 41 Ethiopia, 19 Japan, three are from Uganda, five are from Morroco and one each from several other countries. Many more are listed without a time but within the global ranking list — for now. Currently, North America’s fastest is Cameron Levins of Canada with his 2:05:36 from his run in Tokyo in March. Australia’s Brett Robinson ran 2:07:31 in Fukuoka, Japan in December 2022. Bahrain’s Marius Kimutai ran 2:05:06 in Barcelona in March.

Canada’s second-fastest marathon runner of all time Trevor Hofbauer wants to run Valencia in sub-2:08:10 for a near two-minute personal best. He has run 2:09:51. In October, he ran the Royal Victoria Half Marathon in 1:04:07, well composed. The attempt was to run the marathon pace well within himself. Mission accomplished.

Rui Pinto of Portugal is ranked 80th by global position. His best from April 2023 is 2:11:23 from Rotterdam. That is not going to get it done. Pinto, will have to race again and improve upon his time. He will be squeezed out by performances this fall.

The Americans will run the Paris Olympic Trials in Florida to flesh out the six athletes that they intend to send to Paris. Kenya, Ethiopia and Japan with a large number of athletes to choose from will hand-pick and they do not always go with the top three by time not all East African athletes want to go to the big, preferring cash-rich marathons instead. Most countries just hope to have six athletes qualify.

The women

Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa holds the world record at 2:11:53 from her 2023 Berlin Marathon performance. She of course is ranked first. Number two is Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan with her Chicago performance of 2:13:44. In third spot is occupied by Ethiopian Amane Beriso Shankule with her 2:14:58 Valencia performance from December 2022.

Women have to run sub 2:26:50. Currently the slowest within that time is Sutume Asefa Kebede from Ethiopia. She is the 72nd Ethiopian during the qualification period. There are 39 Kenyans, 20 Japanese, and 13 Americans under that benchmark. Canada has one in Malindi Elmore with her 2:23:30 performance from Berlin this year. It is the second-fastest Canadian performance all-time behind Natasha Wodak with her 2:23:12. Wodak is seeded on global rankings at the moment.

Fifty-four positions are currently taken by time standard. Amazingly 25 have run sub-2:20; the competition is getting fierce.

To track athletes in all events at World Athletics click here Road to Paris>>

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