O’Keeffe Wins Olympic Trials Marathon

O'Keeffe 2

ORLANDO, Fla. – Stanford graduate Fiona O’Keeffe ’20, smashed the women’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials record in her debut at the distance on a warm Saturday to secure her spot in the Paris Games.

O’Keeffe made an ambitious break with more than seven miles to go to win by more than half a minute in 2:22:10, an Olympic Trials record that achieved the Olympic time standard. O’Keeffe broke the American marathon trials mark of 2:25:38 set by Shalane Flanagan in 2012 in Houston.

O’Keeffe, who qualified for the Trials through a half marathon, was among three Stanford graduates to finish in the top five, followed by Jessica (Tonn) McClain ’14 in fourth in a personal best 2:25:46 and the legendary Sara (Bei) Hall ’05 in fifth in 2:26:06. O’Keeffe, who earned a Stanford degree in Earth Systems, was a six-time All-American at Stanford and the 2019 Pac-12 cross country champion, leading the Cardinal to a 1-2-3 finish and the team title.


Fiona O’Keeffe. Photo by Randy Miyazaki/

Hall was third through 18 miles, while McClain never was in the top 10 until 21 miles. McClain made up a 2:03 on fourth place over the final 4.2 miles, passing Hall and Caroline Rotich over the final mile to take fourth. 

Overall, seven Stanford alums – five women and two men – were represented, with Abbie McNulty ’18 placing 43rd and Madeline Duhon ’11 placing 100th in the women’s race. Jacob Riley ’11, an Olympic men’s marathon qualifier in 2020, dropped out after 18 miles and Kevin Havel ’12 dropped out after 10.

A pack of 12 women ran together in the early stages, passing five miles 27:03 and 10 miles in 54:27. O’Keeffe was part of that pack, alongside many of the other key contenders, including Emily Sisson, Keira D’Amato, Hall, Caroline Rotich, Betsy Saina, Dakotah Lindwurm and Lindsay Flanagan.

D’Amato led the pack as they reached the halfway point in 1:11:43, putting them well on schedule to finish inside the Olympic qualifying time of 2:26:50. But by 16 miles, D’Amato had fallen a few seconds behind the lead pack, which was now down to nine.


Jess Tonn

Jessica McClain. Photo by David Hicks.

O’Keeffe started to stretch ahead of the field shortly before the 19-mile point. The other leading opponents, most of whom are seasoned marathon runners, opted not to go with her, but it proved a decisive move for the marathon novice.

O’Keeffe’s lead grew with each mile. At one point, at mile 25, she had a 40-second lead over Sisson. Further back, Hall’s challenge was starting to fade,…

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