Molly Seidel ran a stunning race in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics to secure the bronze medal in her third-ever marathon. Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya won the gold in 2:27:20, while her countrywoman Brigid Kosgei took the silver.
Seidel had previously only run a marathon in the Olympic trials and the 2020 London Marathon, which she finished in 2:25:13. She won four NCAA titles at Notre Dame, but the longest of them was 10,000m.
Jepchirchir has been more successful in the half marathon, winning the world championship at that distance in 2016 and 2020. Kosgei owns the women’s marathon world record, set in 2019. The two Kenyans began to break away from Seidel at around 37k.
Among the other Americans, Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego finished 17th, 5:33 behind Jepchirchir’s winning time. American Aliphine Tuliamuk had to drop out after 20k due to a hip injury.
Seidel ran a strong race from the start, joining the lead pack of about 12 runners who stayed together through the first hour and a half of the race.
Deena Kastor – the last American woman to medal in the marathon, in 2004 – was among those who celebrated Seidel’s surprise bronze:
In winning a medal, Seidel fulfilled a childhood goal. As a fourth grader, she declared, “I wish I will make it into the olympics and win a gold medal”:
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, an Israeli runner who had been in fourth place behind the medalists until the final kilometers, fell back and finished in 66th place. The top Japanese finisher was Ichiyama Mao in eighth.
The race was moved up to 5 p.m. ET – 6 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo – due to weather. While the organizers originally hoped to have the marathons in Tokyo, they moved the events 500 miles north to Sapporo, a city on Hokkaido island, in order to have lower temperatures for the runners.