It's December 18, and there's a big race to look forward to this weekend. One of few silver linings of the pandemic continuing to rock this country is that it has produced the most exciting December -- from a running perspective -- that any of us can remember.
The race, as by now you must have heard, is the Marathon Project, the elite-only event in the Arizona desert where roughly 100 of the top North American-based marathoners will chase personal bests on a flat, fast course in near-perfect conditions.
The Marathon Project is a showcase of the best of our sport, with race organizers Ben Rosario, Josh Cox, and Matt Helbig pulling it off because they truly care about the sport of running and the people in it. Yes, some of the athletes are going there with the hope of hitting a time to earn a shoe bonus. But for many of them, that bonus is incidental. There are no appearance fees here. More than anything, the Marathon Project is a chance to do what these athletes live for, to do what they couldn't this year in Boston, Chicago, and New York: to race.
It is an event where we can expect fast times. Sara Hall plans on going out in 69:40 for the first half, putting her on pace to challenge Deena Kastor's American record. On the men's side, roughly a dozen athletes are expected to come through around 64:30, setting the stage for a historically deep day (the record for most Americans under 2:10 in a single marathon is four; it may be more after Sunday).
So get hyped, one last time, for a big race in 2020. And let's hope for more on the horizon in 2021!
Photo: Bob Martin for Virgin Money London Marathon
Everything You Need to Know About the Marathon Project
There have only been six races in history in which multiple Americans have broken 2:10 (the record is four guys under 2:10), but we could see as many as half a dozen Americans break the barrier in Arizona.
Hall is planning on running the first half in 69:40, while the next group is slated to hit halfway in 71:30. Kellyn Taylor, Stephanie Bruce, Emma Bates, and D’Amato are among the US stars chasing PBs in the desert.
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